Straight Talk

Speeches and Writings on Canadian Unity


So begins this collection of Stéphane Dion’s speeches from 1996 to 1998. Organized around four central themes, Straight Talk shows the breadth and strength of Dion’s convictions. Dion believes that Canada is first and foremost a nation of caring people, in contrast to the image projected by the endless, dry constitutional debate. He argues that the melding of diversity and unity that is the basis of this nation is possible only because of the particular federalism that Canadians have invented. This federalism, however, is far from perfect and it is the responsibility of government to continue to work to improve it, always remembering that its core must be the quality of service it provides to Canadians. Dion believes that the Quebec question is not a constitutional question but one that concerns identity: many francophones believe that their identity and culture are not respected in the rest of Canada and see the anglophone majority as a force for assimilation, while many in other provinces feel that separatists do not share the same values of openness and tolerance. He believes strongly that the secession process the Parti Québecois has proposed - effecting independence on the basis of incorrect legal theory, an unclear referendum question, and a majority of fifty percent plus one - is difficult to reconcile with democracy and raises questions that must be discussed openly and resolved democratically. Straight Talk is a refreshingly honest and frank discussion about a matter that has been at the forefront of Canadian’s thoughts for too many years.


"I was pleasantly surprised by the collection. The introduction is clear and straightforward . .. and the selection of speeches has been carefully and thoughtfully done . .. [Straight Talk] fills gaps in the trade literature, where there is not much about contemporary federalism or the Quebec question. " Robert A. Young, Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario.