________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 17 . . . . April 29, 2005


The Little Book of Canadian Political Wisdom.

Rick Broadhead. Illustrated by Andy Donato.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2004.
200 pp., cloth, $21.95.
ISBN 1-55263-640-2.

Subject Headings:
Political satire, Canadian (English).
Canada-Politics and government-1935- Humour.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Ronald J. Hore.

***1/2 /4


Most Nonsensical Statement During a Speech: "Seals don't eat beef. I was interviewed one day in France. I explained one of the problems is we have too many seals. A reporter came to me and asked if it was true that seals eat cod. I said I don't know. I'm not a seal. But I can tell you seals don't eat beef because seals are not living in Alberta." - Prime Minister John Chretien on July 8, 1995, speaking at a Liberal Party fundraiser in Calgary.

Best Ad-Hoc Solution to our Environmental Problems: "You know, if all of us quit breathing, can you imagine how much carbon dioxide we could avoid sending into the atmosphere?" - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein on February 26, 2002.

Most Unusual Advice From a Politician: "Popularity is bad for you ... I try to avoid it like the plague, and I've been reasonably successful." - Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in May 1992, as he campaigned for his third majority government.

This little book should appeal to anyone with a sense of humour, even if they lack an interest in politics. It is a 200 page collection of some of the best and the worst that our politicians have said over recent years. The oldest references include one from 1939 and three from 1952 - 1954. There are 100 quotations, each one headed by a category of some kind such as: "Best Observation About Canada," "Worst Display of Self-Confidence by a Politician," "Best Insult by a Saskatchewan Politician," "Best Denial by a Prime Minister." In general these are samples of the most humourous or outrages statements made, and the majority do not flatter the speaker, although there are examples of wit as well as gaffs.

     Matching the quotes are cartoons by the Toronto Sun's Andy Donato, one of the country's top political cartoonists. These cartoons have previously appeared in newspapers across the country. The cartoons, in general, are well suited to the quotation that they are placed beside, and I suspect that many were created as a direct result of the comment they closely describe. On their own, the cartoons will bring a smile to the reader.

internal art     The verbal abuse is well spread out. The following are the major contributors: Jean Chretien with nine examples, Brian Mulroney with six samples, John Crosbie and John Turner with five each, John Diefenbaker, T. C. Douglas and Pierre Trudeau with four apiece and Paul Martin with three. The big city mayors are not left out as we have Mel Lastman with four quotes and Allan Lamport with three. It does not matter how familiar the reader is with the speaker as, in general, the quotations are funny enough on their own, although a knowledge of the personalities involved and the situations certainly helps in a few cases.

     This book is not a heavy read, and anyone can pick it up, leaf through it and quickly laugh out loud. While the primary appeal would be for adults, students will appreciate the foibles of the grownups and the examples of how badly experienced speakers can fumble when pressed or caught off the cuff.

     If there is any complaint with the book, it is the length, as there is only one cartoon or quote per page; however, at 6.5" x 5.5," this size suits the format, and as the title implies, this is a "Little" book. This is the type of book left lying about the reading room or shown to friends to bring a smile. That there is plenty of material is illustrated by the fact that the author is currently working on a collection of a second 100 pearls of wisdom from our politicians.

     Whether or not someone is interested in politics, they will enjoy skimming through this volume.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald J. Hore, involved with the Canadian Authors Association and writers workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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