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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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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