Appropriate Representation of Minorities: Canada's Two Types Structure and the Arab-Palestinian Minority in Israel

41 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2006

See all articles by Ilan Saban

Ilan Saban

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2006


Appropriate representation of minorities is a fundamental manifestation of an affirmative action policy. One of the main aims of the article is to call attention to the fact that appropriate representation (as indeed affirmative action more generally) comes in at least two different types. The classic appropriate representation benefits members of minority communities without directly involving the community to which the targeted individuals belong. Appropriate representation of this kind is best known in the field of employment. Another type of appropriate representation grows out of the minority rights movement. Unlike classic affirmative action programs, this type involves minority communities directly. The minority community determines (or is a partner in the determination of) who benefits and how.

However, these two courses do not rule out each other and under certain circumstances, it is possible and in fact advisable to use them together. When is it morally preferable to use group representation as opposed to classic affirmative action to overcome state imposed inequalities? When is it feasible socio-politically? Both questions are difficult, and comparative legal study will probably be helpful in the quest for answers. For this reason, the article assesses similarities and differences in the responses given by two deeply diverse democracies, Canada and Israel.

Part I opens theoretical perspectives on types of appropriate representation for minorities and modes of inter-communal relationships which influence their adoption. Part II examines Canadian arrangements. The classic appropriate representation - Employment Equity, in Canadian terminology - is a successful building block of Canadian nation-building and political stability in relation to most facets of Canadian diversity. However, accommodating Quebec nationalism has necessitated the adoption of the dense type of appropriate representation: minority self-rule in major spheres of life and partnership in Canada's government and symbolic order. Part III compares the Canadian and Israeli contexts in search of conclusions about structures for appropriate representation of the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel.

Keywords: Minorities, Representation, Canada, Arab-Palestinian, Israel, French-speaking minority, Employment equity

JEL Classification: D74, E24, J21, J15, J71,K42, K00, K10, K19, K33

Suggested Citation

Saban, Ilan, Appropriate Representation of Minorities: Canada's Two Types Structure and the Arab-Palestinian Minority in Israel (2006). Available at SSRN: or

Ilan Saban (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905

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