The Political Thought of Lord Durham

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The Political Thought of Lord Durham
John Lambton (1792-1840), the 1st Earl of Durham, was appointed Governor General and High Commissioner to British North America following the Rebellions of 1837 in Lower Canada and Upper Canada. He was charged with preparing a report on the Canadian situation, which he submitted in 1839. Rather than focus on the historical context of the Report - the events that brought Durham to Canada and the consequences of the Report's reform proposals - the author treats the Report as a text in modern political thought. She examines Durham's underlying arguments and assumptions and maintains that the Report advocates for political freedom and the place of national minorities in a free society. Durham's assimilation proposal follows from his consideration of ways of opening the widest political and economic opportunities for French Canadians. The author argues that far from being "racist," as other historians have suggested, Durham's proposals reflect the tolerance at the heart of liberalism which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, origin, or creed. The author suggests that Durham's argument highlights a present-day dilemma: that legislation intended to protect cherished minority traditions necessarily erodes liberal rights that those minorities hold equally dear.
Montreal and Kingston
McGill-Queen's University Press
Ajzenstat, Janet. The Political Thought of Lord Durham. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988.
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