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George Ehring and Wayne Roberts
Oakville (Ont.), Mosaic Press, 1993. 390pp,
paper, $18.95, ISBN 0-88962-554-9. CIP

Subject Heading:
New Democratic Party of Ontario.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

The victory of Bob Rae's NDP in the 1990 Ontario provincial election was totally unexpected, particularly by the New Democrats themselves. The party had an opposition mentality and was good at criticizing governments in the legislature but when it came to office had no polices, no agenda, for governing Ontario. This book attempts to explain why, once in power, the party disillusioned almost everyone, friend and foe alike.

Ehring and Roberts are long-time NDP members who had been very active in the party. Their NDP background and critical approach give the book much greater value than one written by outsiders. Because their expectations were so high, they suffered a deeper disappointment than those who disliked the NDP to start with.

There are three sections to  Giving Away a Miracle. Part 1 discusses what the authors call the NDP's "ten deadly sins." These include the lack of an economic plan and the lack of new ideas and imagination. Part 2 is a history of the party in Ontario under Stephen Lewis, Michael Cassidy and Bob Rae and how these men and their ideas shaped the party. The third part shows how the ten deadly sins influenced the performance of the party once it gained power.

Giving Away a Miracle is invaluable to anyone interested in the RAE government. It shows clearly that the NDP is a party like all the others, not idealistic, but full of opportunities. It explains clearly why the party has gone from victory in 1990 to an almost certain defeat in the next election. Even after three years in power, the party had still not worked out any meaningful goals and had alienated all of its strongest supporters. The book will bedisturbing to anyone who still believes in the NDP as a party of principle.

Clearly written and easy to understand, Giving Away a Miracle is recommended, certainly for secondary schools in Ontario which have had to live with the RAE government's policies.

Thomas F. Chambers is a professor at Canadore College of Applied Arts amd Technology in North Bay, Ontario

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