CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

John Bejermi.

Ottawa, Borealis Press, c1983.
532pp, cloth, $34.95.
ISSN 0714-8143.

Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by P. J. Hammel.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

The primary purpose of this bilingual, annual publication is to provide directory and biographical information about elected and appointed officials in the Canadian Parliament. Although the title might suggest that, as a handbook, it might deal extensively with the workings of the Canadian Parliament, the opposite is true. Just enough of this information is presented to provide a framework into which to fit the information about people.

The book is divided into five chapter/ sections. The first, "The Introduction: The Canadian Parliamentary Process," is a brief one and one-half page statement. The second, "The Governor General of Canada," presents two photographs and a fairly extensive biography of the Right Honourable Edward Schreyer; brief expository information about the role of the governor general and the office of the secretary to the governor general follows.

"The Senate of Canada," the third chapter/section, lists first those senators who have retired during 1982-83 and those who have died. Next, the Speaker, Leader of the Government, Leader of the Opposition, and Principal Officers are identified, with pictures and biographies. The largest portion of this section consists of the biographies of current senators, in alphabetical order by surname. For each, there is a photograph plus: name, political affiliation, senatorial designation (i.e. geographical representation), birth place and date, education, parliamentary service, committee service, marital status, spouse's name, special interests, and parliamentary address. A telephone directory for the senate (senators and officials) concludes this section.

The House of Commons is the concern of the fourth chapter/section. A very brief history of the House is followed by a section identifying elected officers and senior officials (appointed); for each there is a photograph, name, and official position. A brief exposition of the electoral process and the functioning of the House of Commons precedes the biographical list of MPs. For each member, the following information is presented: photograph, name, political party, Constituency name and province, birth place and date, parliamentary address, constituency address (and home address where it differs), education, profession, parliamentary service, committee service, war service (this information is new to this edition), ministerial appointments, constituency description (social, economic, etc.), marital status, spouse's name, children (by name), special interests, election results (for the two previous elections), total population of the constituency, and legal description of the constituency. The variation in the amount of personal information varies from member to member and probably depends upon what each member makes available. Significant is that the prime minister and members of the Cabinet are identified only in their individual biographies; it would have been useful to have this information in list form near the head of this section. A telephone directory of members, departments, and officials concludes section. A telephone directory of members, departments, and officials concludes this section.

The final section deals briefly with the Library of Parliament, including a telephone directory for branches and personnel. The work concludes with an index, which is new to this edition and which presents in one list all members of parliament and senators.

A serious weakness of this work is its failure to properly identify and separate the major chapter/sections. In one instance, "The Senate of Canada," which is so identified in the table of contents, is not specifically so identified in the text. There is, also, some evidence of careless editing, for example: "spouses name," rather than "spouse's name," appears in every instance.

More important, however, is the wealth of biographical information which is not readily available elsewhere. Although the information in this edition is valid as of September, 1983, the annual nature of the publication provides for continuous updating. Its bilingual presentation makes this work useful in all schools in Canada.

P. J. Hammel, Faculty of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.
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