Election Canada by Derek Black, Broadmoor
Press, Sackville, New Brunswick, 1982, 163 p.
Everyone, or so it seems, wants to write a
book. Unfortunately not every budding author can find a publisher, at least not
among the major commercial publishing houses. As a result, some good
manuscripts are left unpublished while in other cases authors entrust their
work to small publishers who may be less critical or have fewer resources to
check material submitted. The latter appears to be the case for this book.
Despite its title the book is not about
elections as much as Prime Ministers. The first fifty pages are devoted to
information, in point form, about every Canadian Prime Minister since
Confederation. The usual facts such as date of birth, education, occupation,
marriage, military service and previous political experience is augmented by a
few unusual headings such as the publications of each Prime Minister. This
initiative, like the book as a whole, was a good idea but was not researched
carefully enough to make much sense. For example, why list Lester Pearson's
memoirs but not those of John Diefenbaker?
The second chapter consists of maps showing
the distribution of seats after all federal elections since 1967. Provincial
governments at the time of the elections are also listed. Another section of
the book, lists the Premiers of all provinces since they joined Confederation.
Provincial election results since 1967 are given in chapter 4.
The most interesting parts of this book are
chapter 5 which gives some "quotable quotes" attributed to each Prime
Minister and chapter 6 entitled "Comparative Statistical Data". The
latter is really a gold mine for trivia buffs. It lists such things as the
oldest Prime Minister when taking office, which Prime Ministers had sons who
became Members of Parliament and numerous other odd bits of Canadiana.
One cannot become very enthusiastic about
this book because of the incredible number of mistakes both minor and major.
The names of Sir John A. Macdonald (not MacDonald), Alexander Mackenzie (not
MacKenzie) and William Lyon Mackenzie (not MacKenzie) King are mispelled
throughout. Laurier's given name is Wilfrid (not Wilfred). There are factual
mistakes too. Members are appointed (not elected) to the Privy Council and the
Imperial Privy Council. The definitions in the Glossary, (most of which are not
even used in the Book) are unclear to say the least and a few, like private
bill, are simply wrong.
The book contains no date of publication but
the title leads one to believe it was published in 1982 and much of the
information is updated to that year. So why is Tommy Douglas still listed as
sitting in the House of Commons (p. 87) when he retired in 1979? Why is Pierre
Trudeau listed as having only two children (p. 1116)? In fact nearly every page
has some typographical, spelling or factual error!
The author wished to make Canadians more
knowledgeable of their political heritage and more appreciative of those who
have held political office in Canada. That is a noble, although difficult
objective. Surely more harm than good would be done by a wide diffusion of such
careless or mistaken information.