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A nation must think before it acts.
American scholars determined to understand the seemingly elusive nature of the Quebec-Canada debate owe a particular debt of gratitude to Hugh Segal. In an article that draws upon a wealth of personal experience, including many years of active political involvement in the Conservative Party, Segal has managed to illustrate all the optimism, innovation, anger, determination and frustration-as well as a host of inconsistencies and contradictions-that have dominated the constitutional discussions for several decades. Only in Canada, however, could a debate of such profound importance continue for so many years in such a civilized manner. It is true that a growing number of players on all sides of the issue have become a little hoarse, bored, increasingly exasperated, and even somewhat numbed to many of the more subtle nuances that have surfaced in recent years. It is equally important to recognize, however, that no group has ever decided to replace its universities and think tanks with military academies and battle tanks in order to prepare for an ultimate resolution of the issue on the battlefield, a sort of “The Plains of Abraham-the Sequel.” All Canadians can take pride in that civility, which has become a lasting hallmark and important underpinning of the debate.