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Manning, Preston
Toronto, Macmillan Canada, 1992. 373pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-7715-9150-0. Distributed by Gage Distribution Company. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

The New Canada does two things. It provides an autobiography of Reform Party leader Preston Manning and it gives a history of the meteoric growth of Reform from a small regional party on the fringes of Canadian politics to that of a player in the big leagues. It is clearly written and tries to provide answers to the many questions that have been raised about Reform's political agenda.

Manning does an excellent job explaining the frustrations many western Canadians have with the federal political system. The basis of this frustration is that the West has suffered economically from federalism, even when the government in Ottawa has many western members of Parliament. Therefore, Manning believes, a new system that listens and responds to western interests and does not always give in to those of Quebec and Ontario must be developed.

A large part of the book deals with how the parry began and the work that was required before it was finally taken seriously by the older parties. Chapters are devoted to the elections of MP Deborah Grey and the late senator Stan Waters. These show how hard working and devoted to achieving their goals Reform Party supporters can be.

The chapter entitled "Adventures in the Marketplace," in which Manning explains his career as a consultant, is the least interesting in the book. It is included to show how his views on resolving conflicts were formed. While this may be important, it is not likely to attract readers to the party.

A major difference between Reform and other parties, Manning points out, is that Reform believes MPs should be more accountable. Their voting behaviour should, as much as possible, represent the views of their constituents. Those views would be determined by surveys or a referendum. MPs that refused to listen to their constituents would lose their jobs and by-elections would be held to find replacements. Just how this would work has to be clarified and, while the concept sounds very democratic, it may turn out to be the most impractical of Reform's innovations. Public opinion can easily be swayed and frequent by-elections would likely have to be held to satisfy it.

Thomas F. Chambers teaches politics, economics and history at Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology in North Bay, Ontario.

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