Maude Barlow is the national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians. Here are some excerpts from a Monitor interview.

On alternatives to elected office:

Partisan politics is so ugly. I prefer dealing with the issues, and I think there's another way to serve, that is, to help build democratic processes and access to public policymaking by ordinary citizens. It's missing in my country, and frankly in yours [the United States], too. If I can do that, I think it's more import than running for office.

On Canadian geography and politics:

We don't make a lot of sense, politically. If you look at the line that divides Canada and the United States, it's really a pretty strange thing. We really would make a lot more sense broken up into five regions involving the states and maybe two or three regions in the north. That huge East-West link to try to build one nation so large has taken an enormous amount of give and take - the larger, wealthier provinces, the wealthier regions, the wealthier peoples saying we will give up something in order to

keep the whole thing together. I fear that spirit of cooperation could be lost.

On tying Canada together:

Our ancestors had to set up national institutions, social programs, broadcasting, railways, airlines, and so on, so that we would exist from sea to sea, because they saw that if we don't share with each other - for survival, not because we're better than anybody else - we won't live, we won't exist.

My deepest fear is that, as we cut down these institutions, the very way we most identify as Canadians is being destroyed - and that we're going to wake one morning and people in British Columbia are going to say, `I don't know what I have in common with those people in Nova Scotia....'

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.