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Macdonald, Alex.

Vancouver, New Star Books, c1985. 187pp, paper, ISBN 0-919573-38-X (cloth) $14.95, 0-919573-39-8 (paper) $7.95. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Ted Monkhouse

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

Macdonald, "Dean of the Legislature" and one of the pre-eminent socialists in British Columbia, began with the CCF party in the early 1940s and was never far from the ear of the legislature. Even today, still practicing law, counselling trade unions, and sitting in the legislature, he has earned the respect of politicians, whatever their stripe. He presents the reader with a collection of letters to young NDP researcher and squash partner, Hugh Legg. Teeming with the wisdom of time and experience, the letters are an eclectic, but fascinating insight into the mind of a democratic socialist. Written over the past two years, the letters reflect the political and ideological struggles seen in the news of British Columbia.

Clearly and simply written, Macdonald's wisdom shines through his many gems. "Silicon Chips Eat People"exemplifies his concern over the fair distribution of not only income, but leisure. He uses this example to show how new technologies require a reduced number of workers, who also benefit from overtime work, so the employer can save costs on fringe benefits that would have to be paid to additional workers. As work becomes scarcer in future, the union and management power struggle will increase with disputes over who has jurisdiction over the workers, and greed will increasingly raise its ugly spectre. From just this one example, it can be seen that this work is a primer of democratic socialism. Whether the reader agrees or not with the premise of such a book, it provides solid background and perspective on this aspect of Canadian society. It deserves to become one of the texts for courses in Canadian politics or labour history, whether for student or teacher. It is recommended for senior high and college level reading.

Ted Monkhouse, Wellington County Board of Education, Guelph, Ont.
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