24 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 1579 (1991-1992)
Group Rights: A Canadian Perspective

handle is hein.journals/nyuilp24 and id is 1591 raw text is: GROUP RIGHTS: A CANADIAN PERSPECTIVE
LEON E. TRA Nu,*
Allegiance to an identifying group structures per-
sonal identity; it indicates who I am. At its most
profound level, the loss of membership in an identi-
fying group is a loss or shattering of personal iden-
tity.1
Of equal importance is the threat to harmonious re-
lations between communities resulting from the de-
nial of a communal identity.2
Certain groups are said to evaporate in the Cana-
dian milieu, while others vigorously assert them-
selves. From this point of view it seems that the im-
portant phenomenon is not ethnic origin itself, or
even mother tongue, but the feeling of belonging to
a group and the desire of this group to exist as
such.3
I. INTRODUCTION
Canadians endlessly ponder the constitutional and cul-
tural nature of their society in the presence of perceived
threats from within and without. They realize that, within a
* Visiting Professor, Wisconsin Law School; Professor, Dalhousie
Law School, Halifax, Canada. The author thanks the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding this research project.
This article was written prior to the now failed referendum on constitu-
tional unity. Endorsed by both federal and provincial governments, the
accord was rejected by a majority of Canadians. See generally CONSENSUS
REPORT ON THE CONSTITUTION (1992). On the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms, see generally LEON E. TRAKMAN, REASONING WITH THE
CHARTER (1991).
1. Michael McDonald, Should Communities Have Rights? Refletions on
Liberal Individualism, 4 CAN. J.L. &JURISPRUDENCE 217, 219 (1991).
2. See generally REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF INQ.UIRY ON THE Post-
TION OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE AND ON LANGUAGE RIGrrs IN QUEBEC, bk.
3 (1972); Charles Taylor, Can Canada Survive the Charter?, 30 ALTA. L REV.
427 (1992).
3. ROYAL COMMISSION ON BILINGUALISM AND BICULTURALISM, REPORT,
General Introduction, at xxiii (1967) [hereinafter ROYAL COMMISSION RE-
PORT).
1579

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