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Gary Levy

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 As a result, some good manuscripts are left unpublished while in other cases authors entrust their work to small publishers who may be less critical or have fewer resources to check material submitted.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.

The Editor

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Vol 6 no 2

Last Updated: 2020-09-14