Towards a just community: an examination of the development of cultural citizenship rights in Canada from a communitarian perspective
Fuchs, Timothy B.
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The notion of citizenship, while a basic human right, has come under scrutiny. It was once assumed a liberal inspired regime of citizenship rights would reign as the primary ideological perspective in the Western world, however this has not been the case. Numerous competing paradigms have questioned the premise upon which liberal guarantees of citizenship rights are based. In particular, communitarianism has subjected liberal rights discourse to a closer examination. Communitarian theory holds that universalist principles negate any articulation of community and its internal diversity, such as cultural citizenship. It is this understanding of citizenship that has taken hold in Canada. The Canadian political experience illustrates a number of attributes associated with communitarian thought. It is a collectivist society that articulates a notion of the common good, acknowledges the internal diversity of its citizens and possesses a highly developed deliberative democratic process. To this end, Canada can be described as being more communitarian than liberal in nature in the process it has adopted to address citizenship rights. However, the type of commuIiitarianism displayed in Canada differs from the political models examined by such scholars as Michael Sandel, Iris Marion Young or Will Kymlicka. Cultural citizenship rights are fluid and malleable in Canada. While no clear guarantees of citizenship rights exist, there is a common commitment by Canadians to engage in a fair, open and inclusive deliberative process. This model is unique to Canada; it cannot be exported in that it is a product of Canadian political culture. As a result, the contemporary demands of cultural citizenship are dealt with effectively and democratically in Canada in that the proper mechanisms for public deliberation exist.