Introducing Trouble, or the Trouble with The Trouble With Canada


  • Donna L. Lillian York University


William Gairdner has written several popular books, including the two Canadian best-sellers, The Trouble with Canada, and The War Against the Family. Gairdner’s political and social views, as the title of the second book suggests, fall within the “family values” spectrum of the New Right. In the introduction to The Trouble With Canada, Gairdner, referring to the terms conservative, liberal, and socialist, asserts, “One of the aims of this book, therefore, is to provide a key to the real meaning of these terms” (p. 4, italics mine). Indeed, in that book, as in his other writings, Gairdner does redefine not just those terms, but the world and everything in it, to suit his particular ideology.

Gairdner deliberately aims his books at a non-academic readership, therefore at a readership which is untrained in deciphering the author’s subtle but effective rhetorical and discursive techniques. It is the task of linguistics, informed by feminist theory and critical discourse analysis, to delineate the rhetorical and discursive strategies by which Gairdner makes his views appear to the unsophisticated reader to be irrefutable and incontrovertible. The goal of my research is to conduct just such an analysis, and to demonstrate the connection between the discursive strategies of Gairdner, and those of other propagandists of the political and religious right.

As part of my ongoing research, the present paper provides a detailed analysis of the Introduction to The Trouble With Canada. Following Sykes (1985) and Fowler(1985), I engage in a detailed analysis of the text, identifying the micro-linguistic features such as modality, transitivity, lexis, and syntactic complexity employed by the writer to encode his ideology. In addition, I position this particular example of Gairdner’s discourse within North America. In addition to providing an example of critical discourse analysis in action, the present paper lays the foundation for a broader examination of elite discourse strategies within the Canadian context.



How to Cite

Lillian, D. L. (1997). Introducing Trouble, or the Trouble with The Trouble With Canada. Papers from the Annual Meetings of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association (PAMAPLA) ACTES DES COLLOQUES ANNUELS DE L’ASSOCIATION DE LINGUISTIQUE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES (ACAALPA)., 20, 95–103. Retrieved from

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