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Derek Black.

Toronto, Methuen, c1984.
178pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0458-97640-7.

Grades 7 and up.

Reviewed by Paul E. Blower.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

Of course, this book is already out of date. Taking April 30, 1984 as the cut-off point, the author includes no information on the outcome of the Liberal leadership contest two months later or the federal election in September. This major handicap, plus a few other problems, prevent it from becoming, as the author intends, "the bible of Canadian politics."

The first section is on prime ministers up to and including Trudeau (again, up to April 30, 1984). For each leader there is a caricature by Tom Andres and a capsule biography in point form (e.g., religion, military service, important career events, etc.). Better editing would have removed some inconsistencies (e.g., the date of Trudeau's marriage is given but not Clark's; no mention is made of Bowell’s mother while those of other prime ministers are named; the information is not given in the same order for each of the entries), and minor errors of fact such as the incorrect date given for Pearson's resignation might also have been eliminated.

Other sections include election maps (indicating how the provinces voted in every federal election from 1867 to 1980), a list of twentieth-century party leaders and current premiers, and a selection of quotable quotes (e.g., while most Canadians know that Laurier said "The twentieth century belongs to Canada," few are aware that he also said, "The great mass of the electors are ignorant").

Again, there are a few problems, mainly of clarity and consistency. In a section on provincial premiers and elections, the author assigns federal party labels to vaguely defined post-Confederation provincial parties "when provincial parties supported federal governments in policy, if not in name." Also, information on recent elections in the Yukon is included even though it is not a province. Some students may find such arbitrary and idiosyncratic practices confusing.

A section on "comparative statistical data" is frankly little more than a collection of trivia. Under "awards," the date Pearson received the Nobel Peace Prize is given, while the date he was made an officer in the Order of the British Empire is not. A section of "lists and charts" includes, in addition to a time chart and the names of all the governors-general and speakers of both Houses of Parliament, the names of the members of the federal cabinet as of November 1, 1983, information of virtually no current reference value. The glossary defines closure as "a cabinet minister's motion to shorten a bill in House of Commons," when what is being shortened is debate, not the bill. There is no index.

In short, of limited usefulness as reference and only marginally more justifiable as recreational reading.

Paul E. Blower, Sault Ste. Marie P. L., Sault Ste. Marie, ON.
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