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Michael Byers

Intent For a Nation: What Is Canada For?

Date Recorded: Sep 18th, 2007
Recorded At: Vancouver, British Columbia
Recorded By: Jim Taylor, Necessary Voices Society
Duration: 56:15  

Topic Background

Intent for a Nation is Michael Byers’ most recent book. Its title is followed by ” A relentlessly optimistic manifesto for Canada’s role in the world”, and it has been lauded as a compelling call to arms to reinvigorate our vision of Canada’s place in the world, from one of the best of our new generation of public intellectuals.

The book plays against Lament For A Nation, the influential 1965 work of political philosophy by George Grant, which paints Canada as a country already lost to the forces of Americanisation.

Reviewers have called Intent for a Nation “anti-American”, but Byers insists that this isn’t the case, and that the book is simply pro-Canadian.

“Why do Canadians think so small?” asks Byers, “we’re a serious country..but we don’t use our clout.” He argues that it is time for a clear-eyed appreciation of our country’s strengths and weaknesses. Instead of emulating our increasingly isolated neighbour, Byers says that we should be advancing the Canadian model, which he describes as an idealistic, fiscally prudent, socially progressive vision of foreign policy that, in his opinion, has never looked so good in this evermore competitive and volatile world.

Speaker Biography

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. His work focuses on issues of Arctic Sovereignty, military force, the law of the seas, and United States relations. He is the author of Custom, Power and the Power of Rules (1999), and War Law (2005). Byers is a regular commentator on the CBC and a frequent contributor to such periodicals as the London Review of Books, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.

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