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SPOILS OF POWER: THE POLITICS OF PATRONAGE.

Simpson, Jeffrey.

Toronto, Collins, 1988. 416pp. cloth. $27.95. ISBN 0-00-217759-5. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Thomas K. Chambers

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January


Political neophytes should read this book. If they have any illusions about the honour of the profession they have chosen, these will soon be destroyed, for Spoils of Power is about patronage in Canadian politics--a patronage so insidious and so blatant as to make a thoughtful person weep.

We have all read about patronage in our newspapers. The topic became political dynamite in 1984 when former prime minister Pierre Trudeau made 225 patronage appointments before leaving office. His heir, John Turner, agreed to these appointments in writing. This turned out to be political suicide, for it left him open to Mulroney's knock-down blow during a TV debate: "You had an option, sir. You could have said I am not going to do it.....You had an option to say no.....You could have done be tier."

Jeffrey Simpson, the national political columnist for the Globe and Mail, has done a masterly job in laying bare the bones of patronage from the days of pre-Confederation Canada to the government of Prime Minister Mulroney in 1988. In between we learn of the ingenious methods used by Sir John A. Macdonald to try to ensure his continued stay at the helm of our country and those used by his successors, Laurier, Borden, King and St. Laurent.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn what Canadian politics is really all about.


Thomas K. Chambers, Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology, North Bay, Ont.
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