In Shall We Dance? Charles Blattberg shows that while a just politics based on dialogue is at the core of Canadians' sense of ourselves as a citizenry, our current forms of dialogue are inadequate. For example, neutralist thinkers such as Pierre Trudeau assume that politics must take place on a unified foundation, with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms having a trumping status when it conflicts with values not contained within it. The final word thus goes to those Supreme Court justices responsible for applying the Constitution. Any dialogue here, it is clear, is of that limited sort known as pleading. Pluralist thinkers such as Kenneth McRoberts, however, defend an approach that is in keeping with the longstanding Canadian political tradition of compromise. For them, we need see that even our most basic rights are open to negotiation, a form of dialogue that aims at accommodation. Blattberg argues that both of these approaches have failed and asserts that the preferred form of dialogue in Canadian politics today should be that of conversation.
As he shows, only conversation aims for genuine reconciliation of conflict; only it will help us realize the common good that is at the heart of what he calls a patriotic politics; and only such a politics can help us be true to our history, to our present, and, indeed, to our future.