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Produced by T.I. Gzebb and Paul R. Norris; directed by Denise Withers
Active Productions, 1991. VHS cassette, 25:00 min., $99.00
Distributed by Magic Lantern Communications, #38 775 Pacific Rd., Oakville, Ont. L6L 6M4 or #201-6700 #3 Rd., Richmond, B.C. V6Y 2C3. Phone 800-263-1717

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up
Reviewed by Katy Campbell-Bonar.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

First in a series of six programs examining the Canadian parliamentary system, How Parliament Works provides a very thorough introduction to the process of Canadian government. Following an overview of the system, during which the Canadian system is contrasted with the British system of government, the roles and responsibili­ties of the Senate and the House of Commons are examined in some detail. The information, although almost overwhelming in detail, is clearly organized and surprisingly honest. Excellent production values prevail, although a hollow quality accompanies the audio. This is due more to the choice of location than to technical inexpertise.

Targeted for upper junior high grades, this program is clear and well paced. Excellent transitions present opportunities for the teacher to stop the program for classroom discussion. However, the viewer comes away with the sense that the country is managed almost entirely by white males who congregate in private club-like atmos­pheres. Although observations are provided by MPs, senators, committee members, the Governor General, and cabinet members, only three women (briefly) and no ethnic minorities are represented. For a series produced so recently (1991) in the prevailing political climate, the absence of the Voices of native Canadians, for example, is jarring. This effect is heightened by the host, who is British.

As noted above, the density of information assures the purchaser of getting his/her money's worth. The series would be enhanced, however, by the addition of a student's guide containing some of the more specific and difficult vocabulary. The teacher would be well advised to prepare advance organizers for less sophisti­cated students.

Magic Lantern Communications has an excellent reputation for providing well-planned and produced materials for social studies curricula. Neither will this series, based on the viewing of the introductory program, disappoint.

Katy Campbell-Bonar, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.
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