Inequality in Canada

The History and Politics of an Idea

A provocative survey of the idea of inequality across two centuries of Canadian history.


In Inequality in Canada Eric Sager considers one of the defining—but hardest to define—ideas of our era and traces its different meanings and contexts across the 19th and 20th centuries. Sager shows how the idea of inequality arose in the long evolution in Britain and the United States from classical economics to the emerging welfare economics of the 20th century.


  • Winner, Canadian Historical Association 2021 Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize 2021


"The book is a wake-up call to anyone who thinks that concern about inequality is new. Sager skillfully identifies how inequality was conceived and also how it failed to be conceived. He carefully traces intellectual debts to different historical conditions and material circumstances. It's an extraordinary accomplishment. " E. A. Heaman, McGill University

"As we think about where we have been and where we want to be, one useful starting place is Eric Sager's Inequality in Canada, which offers a detailed account of how politicians, preachers, economists, and editorialists have articulated and debated the issue since colonial days. Sager's concluding chapter, "To Explore and to Know Again," is so passionate, wise, sad, and engaging that readers should try to stay with him to the end. " Literary Review of Canada

"This is intellectual history at its best and Eric Sager is at the top of his game: confident, but never arrogant, comfortable with his sources, and critical, in the best sense of that word. Inequality in Canada is a masterful piece of scholarship. " Donald Wright, University of New Brunswick