Faultlines: Struggling for a Canadian Vision


460 words

Title: Faultlines: Struggling for a Canadian Vision; by Jeffrey 
Simpson; Harper Collins; Hardcover, 395 pages; $26.95

Reviewer:  A. T. Connellan, "A uniquely personalized montage 
of Canada, portrayed by a wordsmith with few peers. Anyone 
less skilled would produce terminal ennui." 

Simpson explores our psyche

We are a flawed country with a faulty constitution. That we have 
functioned this long as a nation is more a tribute to persistence 
than good management. Journalist Jeffrey Simpson, now on 
sabbatical, as a Knight's Fellow at Stanford University, after 
completing his 20th year with Canada's best newspaper, 
understands this better than most. 

Canada has no shortage of players in the national pastime of 
Constitutional Navel Gazing. Many have come before author 
Simpson and more will follow, but few will have taken such a 
novel approach in their exploration of the Canadian psyche. 

Jeffrey Simpson has presented us with a portrait of Canada 
as he and others see it. For Faultlines, he identified the 
situations or challenges that faced the nation, and labelled 
them. Then, like an artist faced with a canvas flawed, marked, 
weakened and slightly torn, he sought out those who could 
provide not only recommendations for repair but who would 
lend an assortment of colors for his palette. 

Some of the faces may be familiar, some are new. All are the 
product of their own unique Canadian experience, and have 
much to say. The eloquent voices of Georges Erasmus, 
Mary Eberts, Derek Burney and Leon Dion accompany those 
of Preston Manning, Joe Fratesi, Clyde Wells and Lucien 
Bouchard. Each contributes colors varying in hue, depth, 
richness, and softness. 

History is the final judge of events and individuals. The Free 
Trade Agreement seen through Derek Burney's eyes will 
provoke a second regard for many of us. Clyde Well's 
extraordinary political cowardice on Meech Lake may come 
to be viewed as the seminal act that livened the Reform and 
Bloc parties with their leaders idiosyncratic visions of Canada. 
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, language rights, 
and aboriginal self-government are examined from the inside 
out. Charged by first hand experience they add a visceral 
vigor to the "artists" vision, but make no mistake the brush 
belongs to Simpson. The vignettes are his. A uniquely 
personalized montage of Canada, portrayed by a wordsmith 
with few peers. Anyone less skilled would produce terminal ennui. 

This is not a book for those addicted to the puerile mind candy 
of public affairs television. Simpson doesn't pander for 
understanding. He challenges cognition in tight, dense sentences 
that cause literary double-takes. The reader wonders, are these 
really faultlines, or are they the essential strands of steel that 
give the Canadian fabric its' inherent durability? 
At this pivotal point in our history you are asked. What is your 
vision of Canada, your thoughts and recommendations? On the 
journey to your conclusions, and of all the works available on the 
subject, this brilliantly conceived book, cogent and coherent in its 
assessment, is the recommended read. 

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