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Charles Taylor.

Toronto, Anansi Press, c1982.
231pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-88784-096-5.

Reviewed by Keith Wilson.

Volume 11 Number 2.
1983 March.

The fascination of this book lies not so much in its purpose—to explore the Canadian conservative tradition-as in its approach. The author, a long-time journalist, probes for the essence of conservatism in interviews with such diverse people as Donald Creighton, W. L. Morton, Al Purdy, Eugene Forsey, George Grant, Robert Stanfield, and David Crombie. He finally reaches the conclusion that there is a worthwhile Canadian conservative tradition based on a sense of reverence and good order, nationalist rather than continentalist, non-doctrinaire, and essentially humane. The vignettes of those interviewed are sheer delight: the somewhat irascible Creighton, the gentle Morton, the aggressive Purdy whose idea of privacy "is that you can take a piss in your own front yard," the constitutional gadfly Forsey with a skill for mimicry who admits to being in his "anecdotage," the sincere and thoughtful Stanfield, and the ebullient populist, David Crombie. Whether this conservative tradition can ever be placed within a political program is debatable, although Taylor thinks it possible if the Conservatives can put their house in order. The experience of the Clark government must not be allowed to be repeated: "If the ideology was misguided, the incompetence was calamitous: out-manoeuvered and finally outvoted by the Grits, the Conservatives returned to their familiar places on the opposition benches and to their familiar pastime of knifing each other in the back. Himself was restored as our Perpetual Leader, and the smiles on the faces of Keith Davey and Jim Courts raised smugness to the realm of the sublime."

A thoroughly enjoyable and thoughtful book. Highly recommended.

Keith Wilson, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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