Jane Austen and the Council of the Federation

Jean Leclair

Abstract


As I was preparing this article1 about the Council of the Federation, about the manner in which it differed from its predecessor, the Annual Premiers’ Conference, my thoughts were constantly harking back to my favorite English author, Jane Austen. Although the titles of her novels are different, and despite the fact that Elizabeth Bennet is not an exact replica of Elinor Dashwood,2 Jane Austen always writes the same story: the battle between reason and emotion, between sense and sensibility. Now, quite frankly, as do Alain Noël and others before me, I believe that the Council of the Federation is not more than a light institutionalization of the Annual Premiers’ Conference.3 It is the same story again. And one that also has to do with the tension between sense and sensibility. During my preparation, I also recalled the very first sentence of Jane Austen’s masterpiece Pride and Prejudice which runs as follows: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Amusingly, the Council of the Federation’s philosophy could be articulated in a similar fashion: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a federal government in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of provinces.”


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