The Affects of Post-Materialism on Canada

Topics: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada, Individual rights Pages: 7 (2739 words) Published: April 7, 2008
Since the post war era, the political culture of the majority of the world has been witness to the erosion of materialism of the conflict ridden war era and the emergence of post-materialism that is common with spreading socioeconomic safety. With this change in political culture that permeates all levels of life, from economic to political; the public’s priorities have changed accordingly. More and more people are becoming concerned with self expression and life style rather than personal security and economic survival. This change in public priority can then accordingly transfer to a change in government policy and administration (In a liberal democracy the government consists of representatives of the public). Canada being a liberal democracy and being one of the top ten countries for the prevalence of post-materialism , should be expected to reflect these new post-materialistic values both in public focus and government policy. However some claim that this is not the case in Canada, that despite the rise of post-materialism, and Canadian’s new found focus on civil liberties and group based rights, their interests are not being represented by what is becoming an increasingly undemocratic government . I will attempt to demonstrate that in this modern post-material era, were Canadians are increasingly stressing civil liberties and group rights, government is showing disturbingly undemocratic tendencies and elites are being desensitized to public interest by focusing primarily on party lines and ideology, resultantly there are great political consequences taking place due to electorate reaction to the issue. Understanding this question, its validity and consequences are crucial to today’s political climate and to the future of Canada’s traditions and its future as a nation-state. Are we living in a in a friendly dictatorship, disconnected from the voice of the people and the ideals of our founding principles? To demonstrate that there is a recent interest in Canadian society regarding civil liberties and group based rights that are being neglected by those in power in favour of party lines, one must first explain this interest and illustrate its existence in Canada. The fact that Canadians are increasingly concerned with civil liberties and group based identity rights can be seen firstly (and this could be called the catalyst of this change in public focus) by the change from materialism to post materialism and the ideological change in the public this has caused. Post-materialism can be defined as the shift of public focus away from economic and physical security (Materialism) and more towards self expression and self fulfilment, while also becoming less inclined to leave politics (on a civil and social level mostly) in the hands of politicians and accepting pragmatic compromises . Materialism began to decline in the post war era, after many western and some European states were beginning to enjoy a relatively safe socioeconomic environment . Due to this, their priorities began to change and lifestyle acquired a renewed importance in public life. This phenomenon has also been clearly documented by The Inglehart-Welzel map, in which Canada’s current position is clearly stated as being of the top ten countries for the prevalence of Post-materialism(World values surveys)Secondly, the issue of Quebec separatism that emerged in the 1960’s has acted as a major exponent of group based and civil right politics in Canada by moving attention away from individual rights to group right (French Canadians in this case).this can be clearly demonstrated when Kallen states “Throughout the 1980’s constitutional debates, amendments designed to further entrench the special and dominant status of Canada’s two founding peoples –English/Protestants and French/Catholic “charter groups – have assumed top priority. Accordingly, the collective (Linguistic, religious and broader cultural) rights of this countries groups have consistently taken...
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