ROM History Wars – Heavyweights Battle Over Canadian Identity

Posted: March 9, 2012 - 12:13 , by David McKay

It was another full house in Samuel Hall/Currelly Gallery on the Wednesday evening March 7 as the ROM History Wars debate centred on the place of French language, culture and people in Canadian society and governance. As the format allows a straw poll of hands up in the air, the measure of the audience was taken at the beginning of the debate and after to see if our speakers had moved anyone on their views of a bilingual Canada.  The results of both votes showed a significant number of people who were and remained undecided.  Not surprising when considering such a complex issue. Most people, about two-thirds, voted that Canada is not bilingual, binational or bicultural at the beginning of the debate. By the end, this proportion increased by only a little.  The debaters had a tough time swaying opinion, but tried their best, providing a great evening for an enthusiastic audience.

This History Wars debate attracted an enthusiastic audience of 500.

The National Post printed summaries of the combatants’ arguments:

The French fact – by Antonia Maioni, Associate Professor, Political Science, McGillUniversity

The myth of two Canadas – by David Bercuson, Director CMSS, Dept of History, University of Calgary

The discussion centred on “what does Quebec want?” That question has been asked ever since Confederation, and today Canada is sometimes bilingual, occasionally bicultural; (except when it’s multicultural), and some in Quebec see it as bi-national if not deux nations. What were we? What are we? What should we be?

This debate was the second year/season of ROM History Wars and the seventh debate of the series. Stay tuned for a bigger and badder debate – “The War of 1812 was Only the Beginning of US Designs on Canada”, which will be held on June 8, 2012 in Koerner Hall, a larger venue, next door at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

The online program description and ticket purchasing will be posted shortly, or sign up for the Let’s ROM e-news and have upcoming events and exhibitions information e-mailed right to you.

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