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Robert M. Campbell and Leslie A. Pal

Peterborough (Ont.), Broadview Press, 1989. 405pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-921149-40-9. CIP

Post-secondary/Ages 18 and up
Reviewed by Howard Hurt.

Volume 17 Number 5
1989 September

The Real Worlds of Canadian Politics was co-authored by two professors of political science and is aimed squarely at the college market. Therefore, it is a textbook but one that has a very specific aim and unique methodology. The book presents six case studies: The CF-18 affair, the development of drug patent legislation, the dilemma of pornography, our abortion saga, Mooch Lake, and the Free Trade Agreement. While such an approach is commonplace in the social sciences, selections are usually pre­sented either as simple collections of related events tied together with notes or as brief examples used to demon­strate points made in an analytical textbook.

Here we have quite an extensive treatment of a few situations fitted into a carefully structured framework. All the issues were generated by the first Mulroney government but particular politicians or parties are not really the focus. Rather, the problems demon­strate how such factors as evolving standards of morality, the appearance of neo-conservatism, technological change, a preoccupation with region­alism, and the Charter of Rights have affected the actions of interest groups and the working of institutions.

A careful selection was necessary to underline these changes but, once that was made, the unfolding of the cases themselves demonstrates the prin­ciples. The introductions, notes, inserts, questions, and bibliographies are important but they never get in the way of the fascinating political stories. They certainly don't read like academic studies. The authors were consciously writing material for university course work but their first priority seems to have been to create a feeling for the frustrations that inevitably come with consensus building in a politically fractured land.

This is a highly structured textbook in case study format but, because the narrative style is entertaining and the scope limited to a few very timely themes, it will be fascinating stuff for anyone with an interest in the various worlds of Canadian politics. For this reason it should be purchased by public libraries although interest there may tend to fade with the memory of specific controversies. In academia, of course, the book will always be useful for students of Canadian history. The authors have made a genuine contribution to Canadian studies.

Howard Hurt, Curriculum Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
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