Provincial Politics In Canada, by Rand
Dyck, Scarborough, PrenticeHall, 1986, 626 p.
Rand Dyck's Provincial Politics in Canada is
a systematic and fairly comprehensive introduction to the history and politics
of each province in Canada. Dyck outlines the different political cultures,
histories, and structures in a most lucid and readable manner. He pays
particular attention to each constituent unit's evolution, political ideology,
party and electoral systems, voting trends, pressure groups, and relationship
with the federal government. Dyck's primary sources are 1981 and 1984 poll data
and Statistics Canada reports.
However, the strength of the author's
approach is also a weakness. Dyck follows the pattern of other scholars, most
notably Martin Robin in his Canadian Provincial Politics, who focuses almost
exclusively on a province-by-province account rather than attempting the more
intellectually demanding comparative approach. Except in his all too brief
conclusion, Dyck makes no attempt to contrast the provincial policy formation
process. There is no concerted effort to demonstrate the relative economic and
political strengths and weaknesses present in each province. There is no effort
to explore how federal and provincial political cultures are reconciled and
translated into policy preferences. Admittedly, this is a difficult task. In my
view, however, it is a particularly rewarding one. The reader is directed to
the work of Roger Gibbons, most notably in his Regionalism: Territorial
Politics in Canada and the United States, or to Mildred Schwartz' Politics and
Territory: The Sociology of Regional Persistence in Canada, for two examples of
this comparative approach.
One other important omission is the limited
attention paid to the role of provincial bureaucrats. Provincial public
servants have become integral to the policy process in recent years, but their
presence is almost totally ignored in this book.
I do not want to be too hard on Provincial
Politics in Canada. The author's goals are quite modest and as a broad
introduction to the subject, the book is perfectly adequate for the
undergraduate and educated layman. The bibliography is quite complete and is a
useful guide for those who would like to know more about a particular province.
Jonathan Lemco, School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns
Hopkins University, Washington D.C.