How would you explain the four chief elements of Canada's political culture: community, freedom, equality, and attitude toward and expectation of government?

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Canada has stated policies that frame Canadian residents' political culture, but residents' actual experience may diverge from the framed political culture. To make the point using the element of community, Canada's Department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship was adopted in 1991 and dismantled in 1993 because of residents' criticism of weaknesses in its defining points, such as in assisting Canadians to "enhance and share their cultures" (Marc Leman).

Community: Canada's political cultural element of community is explained as a sense of membership in a collected body of residents and citizens. Canada has a long history of regionalism to take into account. This underpins French-English divisiveness, including differences along economic and geographic lines. Current community issues for Canada include multiculturalism, diversity and ethnic distinctiveness.

Freedom: The political cultural element of freedom is explained through Canadians' belief in majority rule, parliamentary system, democratic process, and political compromise when in the absence of a majority. Freedoms relate to institutions and the law, to private and community rights, and to public expression of ideas.

Equality: The political cultural element of equality is explained as Canadians' belief in the power of one vote, in honoring a regular electoral process, and in being governed by popular sovereignty (the people hold the voice of power). Political equality is a less contentious equality than the equality of groups. Quebec's policy of interculturalism illustrates this. The policy of interculturalism acknowledges and accepts "culturally diverse groups (cultural communities) without, however, implying any intrinsic equality among them" (Marc Leman).

Attitude toward government: The political cultural element of attitude toward government is explained as Canadians' acceptance and support of government. Canadians look to government as the authority that binds and protects Canada's residents. Alienation toward federal government, founded in regionalism, does exist in some regions such as Western Canada and is historically based.

Expectation of government: The political cultural element of expectation of government is explained as the expectation of active government intervention to protect and direct society while ensuring solutions to social problems such as health care and education, and economic problems such as inflation and market crashes.

RESOURCES

Marc Leman, "Canadian Multiculturalism."

Open Textbook, Canada, "Chapter 17. Government and Politics." Introduction to Sociology.

David Zussman, "Political Culture." The Canadian Encyclopedia.

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According to Chapter 3, "Canadian Political Culture" by Stephen Brooks, in James Bickerton's book Canadian Politics (5th edition), the four crucial dimensions of Canadian politics are community, freedom, equality, and attitude towards the state (page 46). With regard to community, the author states that the "search for national identity unites successive generations of Canadians" (page 46). He believes that Canadians' constant search for a national identity helps to define the country. Canadians define their national identity based on a political culture rather than in an ethnic or racial way. He believes that this political culture has resulted in a modus vivendi that exists most of the time between anglophone and francophone Canadians.

Canadians' conception of freedom is different than that of Americans, in that they believe that it requires more frequent government interference with the market and with individual liberties. Canadians have a more positive conception of freedom, which requires the government to act, than a negative conception of freedom (as Americans do), which requires the government not to get involved in people's lives. Canadians also support equality to a greater extent than Americans do, including a publicly funded healthcare system. Canadians support government intervention to make their society more egalitarian. Canadians value equality of results, while Americans tend to value equality of opportunity. Finally, as mentioned earlier, Canadians tend to expect more government intervention and help than Americans do. The Canadian government is more active in wealth redistribution than the American government is, and it also provides more social services and collects a higher percentage of people's income as taxes than does the government in the U.S. 

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