It’s Federal Election time again in Canada, complete with an historic eleven-week long campaign, a legitimate three-way race, and, perhaps, the NDP’s first ever shot at forming Her Majesty’s Government in Canada.
So, it’s obviously time for some recommended reading.
Get To Know The Leaders
The leaders of the main political parties are all subject of recent (or recently rereleased) books, many of them autobiographical. The NDP’s Tom Mulcair has a refreshing memoir called Strength Of Conviction. It’s less a political leaflet and more a, “Hi, I’m Tom and here’s my charming story of a large family, hard working parents, and standing up for what you believe in. And Jack, don’t forget Jack.” Which is exactly what Mr Mulcair needs – an introduction to the voters.
Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May both wrote books last year, now out in paperback just in time for you to read again. Though according to colleagues who have read it, Mr Trudeau’s book just isn’t ready yet.
Stephen Harper, of course, didn’t write a book about himself. That was never going to happen. But longtime political commentator John Ibbitson has written an eponymous one. It’s the only in-depth account of our enigmatic Prime Minister’s early years, philosophical underpinnings, and disenchantment with the Canadian establishment after a youthful fling with Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals. It’s also about a strategic, dark-arts-of-politics man who jettisons allies and seems to have no friends left. But he loves cats.
Dig Into The State Of Play
A couple of great books have been around for a while about Canada’s political landscape. Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson wrote an insightful, somewhat controversial book called The Big Shift a few years back. It describes a Canada in which the old consensus is breaking down, especially as the West gains power and shifting demographics change political facts and priorities.
I’ve been meaning to get to Shopping For Votes for a while – so I guess now’s my chance. It’s a take on the segmentation of the electorate, a game being won by the Conservatives, and the turning of politics into a marketing game. An even more depressing take on politics comes from former NDP premier, yet also former Liberal leader, Bob Rae who’s written a review of what he thinks is wrong is Canadian politics.
And Remember The Last Nine Years
At the end of the first Conservative majority government since the Mulroney years, where are we? Two years back, Paul Wells wrote a superlative look at Harper’s ideas, tactics, strategy, and incrementalist vision for the country. The Longer I’m Prime Minister read like the first revelation of Harper’s mind, and is essential reading if you want to see what another Harper government would look like.
To get your blood pressure up, the angriest book out there is definitely Party Of One. Billed as a look at the centralizing tendencies of Stephen Harper, it’s an encyclopedic recap of the controversies, battles, shenanigans, and some would say outright lies of his near decade-long premiership. For a slightly calmer view of the same, check out Dismantling Canada.
And finally, although most of it covers familiar ground, Kill The Messengers opens with some incredibly smart chapters on the relationship between Canada’s media and governments right the way back to the fifties.
So read. And vote.