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Allen Gregg, Patrick Martin and George Perlin.

Scarborough (ON), Prentice-Hall, c1983.
254pp, cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 0-13-171349-3.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Allan S. Evans.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

This probably is the best book of its type ever written in Canada. It provides a penetrating analysis of the Progressive Conservative party's leadership convention, which culminated in the dramatic fourth-ballot selection of Brian Mulroney in the stifling heat of Ottawa's Civic Centre on June 11, 1983.

The authors begin with a brief summary of Joe Clark's ill-starred leadership of the PC party and then swing into a detailed account of the fateful leadership review held in Winnipeg in January, 1983. When the Clark forces obtained the support of a disappointing sixty-seven per cent of the delegates, the leader personally took the decision to call a leadership convention.

What follows is a fascinating analysis of the various candidates who came forth to challenge Clark for his job. A few of them, including John Crosbie and particularly Michael Wilson, were in many ways indebted to Clark for their prominence in federal politics. Others, such as Peter Pocklington and David Crombie, were perhaps as determined to deny Clark the leadership as they were to win it for themselves.

An outstanding service of the book is the insight it provides into the character, ambitions, and political style of the eventual winner and probable next prime minister, Brian Mulroney. It becomes apparent that the man has been preparing himself for political power virtually since his late teenage years. With a political network and organization inferior only to that of Clark himself, Mulroney is revealed as a master of public relations. His media presence and public-speaking skills, combined with great personal charm, total bilingualism and sensitivity to the "French fact" all combined to create the image that had always eluded Joe Clark, that of a winner who could defeat the hated Grits.

Despite his obvious strengths, it was surprising to learn that Mulroney's campaign actually floundered in mid-May, partly for a temporary lack of funds but principally because of the momentum achieved by the on-rushing charge of a rival candidate, John Crosbie. Fortunately for Mulroney, Crosbie impaled himself with some impatient remarks on the issue of his own deficiency in the French language. It was also somewhat disconcerting to learn of Mulroney's telling of occasional small but blatant falsehoods to reporters about his whereabouts and activities at certain times during his campaign in the West.

The authors' skills are especially evident in the latter part of the book. Not only do they provide a revealing picture of the techniques of contemporary political campaigning, but they also manage to sustain a high degree of interest and suspense in the machinations that led to the eventual defeat of Clark by Mulroney, an outcome which has, of course, been known to the reader from the very beginning.

This book is must reading for students of Canadian history and political science and should also prove attractive to the public at large. Includes appendices, notes and an index.

Allan S. Evans, Emery C. I., Weston, ON.
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