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Serge Pelletier

The Broadview Book Of Canadian Parliamentary Anecdotes, Marc Bosc, Broadview Press, Peterborough, 1988, 343 p.

Marc Bosc is a Procedural Clerk with the House of Commons' Journals Directorate. His book is one of a series of three collections of anecdotes published by Broadview Press: the other two are about the Middle Ages and about Canada in general. Anthologies of anecdotes constitute a very specialized literary genre, and to succeed they have to meet certain criteria. As Mr. Bosc explains, an anecdote is the account of an incident or event that is interesting, funny, or striking in itself. It is more likely to reveal something immediate about an individual than to present an in-depth personality analysis; it might also be said that the anecdote's form makes the incident reported seem trivial or without real importance. Be that as it may, the teller of anecdotes can usually count on being a popular success.

Politicians on the whole lend themselves particularly well to being anecdotalized. Their visibility, their idiosyncrasies, the curiosity of the media, all make them ideal targets. Canada's politicians are no exception. As Mr. Bosc's book makes abundantly clear, our parliamentarians are neither drab nor conventional: on the contrary! Their quips, their escapades, their obsessions, both in the House and outside it, make hilarious reading.

Mr. Bosc has chosen to give us his personal favourites, in chronological order, from Confederation to the present day (the latter including only former parliamentarians who are no longer active in politics). Memoirs and biographies were the main sources. And as could have been expected, Prime Ministers are the subject of more anecdotes than anyone else.

This is an entertaining book, and one that humanizes a great many Canadian political figures.

Serge Pelletier, Research Branch, Library of Parliament

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 12 no 2

Last Updated: 2020-03-03