An inspiring case for parliamentary democracy and a sympathetic exploration of current discontents.
In The Once and Future Canadian Democracy Janet Ajzenstat debunks conventional wisdom about Canadian political identity and history. She shows that linking Canadian identity to an ideology that favours the common good over individual interests and counts on big government to achieve it is strangling Canadian democracy by placing fundamental questions beyond debate. To revitalize politics we need to abandon the idea that ideologies evolve from "right" to "left", from conservatism to socialism, and look at our political differences in terms of the distinction, more familiar in the arts, between classicism and romanticism. She argues that by abandoning our current modes of debate and rediscovering the Enlightenment liberalism that is an enduring part of our political tradition we will help to recreate Canada as a place of debate on fundamentals, not one in which a monolithic definition of identity answers all questions in advance.