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Jonathan Lemco

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.

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Vol 9 no 3

Last Updated: 2020-09-14