Canada's Three Solitudes

Canada's split personalities complicate North American relations.

Issue: Winter 2005-2006

EVERY COUNTRY has its problematic national story: race in the United States, class in Britain, empire in Russia. Canada's problem is its perpetual identity crisis, a collective neurosis bred of being a confederation of English and French peoples--what the novelist Hugh MacLennan once called the country's "Two Solitudes"--and the small neighbor to one of history's few great nations. Canadians alternately worry about too much American attention--of being overwhelmed by the United States--and, as suggested by the title of a recent book, Invisible and Inaudible in Washington (2000), of being ignored by the United States. (It didn't help that the New Republic once judged the most boring headline ever to be "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.")

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