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Doern, Russell.

Winnipeg. Cambridge Publishers, cl985. 227pp. cloth. ISBN 0-9692313-0-X (cloth) $18.95, 0-9692313-1-8 (paper) $9.95. Distributed by Cambridge Publishers, 14 Dennis Bay. Winnipeg, Man., R3K 127. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by R. Wieler

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

Russell Doern. a member of the Manitoba Legislature since 1966, left the New Democratic Party in 1984 to sit as an independent member. He broke with the NDP over the proposed language accord arranged between the federal government and the Pawley administration in Manitoba in 1983, which would have extended and entrenched French-languages services in the Constitution. Doern is the author of one other book, Wednesdays arc Cabinet Days (Queenston, 1981), an account of his experiences in the NDP government led by Ed Schreyer.

The book provides an interesting, if one-sided, view of the events that focused national attention on Manitoba politics during the French language controversy of 1983-85. The author traces the growth of opposition within the province of Manitoba to the federal-provincial deal of 1983. He details his role in polling constituents in his Elmwood riding ninety-three per cent (opposed NDP government policy on bilingualism) and his part in forcing the NDP into holding provincial and city plebiscites in which seventy-eight per cent of voters opposed the NDP plan. The author claims victory for the opposition movement on the languages issue, and views the Supreme Court ruling of 1985 on the languages question as a just decision.

Doern's book provides a valuable insight into a contentious issue in Manitoba politics. It also includes colourful and amusing comments on the political figures involved in events: Premier Howard Pawley, Pierre Trudeau, Roland Penner, and many other characters. The author's discriptions of meetings in his constituency, caucus meetings, and the dramatic bell-ringing episode in the Manitoba Legislature in early 1985, provide an inside view into the political process in Manitoba.

Doern's main contention in his book is that there is a difference between "individual bilingualism, which is essential to Canadian unity; and national bilingualism, which is the primary cause of national disunity." He argues that Manitobans are not Archie Bunkers and bigots, but that official bilingualism makes no sense in a province in which less than ten per cent of the populace is of French background. His account of events is self-serving, but provides a reasoned position for the forces that opposed the Pawley-Trudeau accord in those tumultuous times.

R. Wieler, Glenlawn, C.I., Winnipeg, Man.>
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