GRITS: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF THE LIBERAL PARTY
Volume 11 Number 2.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the internal workings of Canada's all-time most successful political machine, and more. McCall-Newman has an absolute winner in this thorough and frequently entertaining account of the federal Liberal party.
The main focus of the book is the party in the Trudeau era. The evolution of this formidable vehicle for the acquisition and maintenance of power is traced back to its nineteenth century origins. But instead of a routine chronological survey, the author chooses to pass back and forth through the time zones as she deals with key contemporary figures such as Keith Davey, Jim Coutts, Michael Pit-field, John Turner, Marc Lalonde, and Pierre Trudeau himself. References from Blake and Laurier to King, St. Laurent and Pearson criss-cross the fabric of the narrative as McCall-Newman alternately pushes and pulls the reader toward an understanding of how and why the Liberal party has so completely dominated the federal political scene in modern times.
While shedding some light on the formulation of party policy and strategy, the author seems most interested in the crucial interplay of the personalities involved in the issues. In this process can also be observed the sometimes subtle, occasionally 'awesome impact of the personalities on the party and vice versa.
Toward the end, McCall-Newman almost apologetically explains that her original intention was a one-volume account but, as if discovering the true proportions of an iceberg, she finds it necessary to write a companion volume to complete her story. In a way, there is a parallel experience within the book for the average reader. For such a person the start of the book is somewhat ponderous. But as the author probes deeper and quickens the pace, the pages come alive with continuously fascinating insights.
Authors such as Radwanski and, more recently, Richard Gwyn, have probed the personality and intellect of Pierre Trudeau. But this is the most complete account yet published of Trudeau's relationship to the Liberal Party—how he has transformed it, has himself been affected by it (or more likely by the power it has brought him), and above all how he has used it as the vehicle for his own ambitions. Very likely, it was the discovery of the complexity of this relationship that necessitates the second volume. The latter will analyse, as it reaches its inevitable denouement in the early 1980s, just what the end of the Trudeau era will mean for the party and for the careers of several men-in-waiting, whose impatience with the overdue abdication of the self-crowned prince is reaching break-point.
Allan S. Evans, Emery C. I., Weston, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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