Monday, May 07, 2007

Books I'm reading

Dead Centre by Jamey Heath. I wanted to like this book. I really did. But Wiley clearly needs to hire better editors. I'm sure there's an excellent book somewhere in there, but between a narrative that jumps around without any real rhyme or reason, and a writing style that leads to a number of just-plain-difficult to read sentences, Heath's book was incredibly frustrating.

The one undeniable virtue to Heath's book is his attack on The Myth of 1988. You know the one: The NDP brought us free trade by doing the unthinkable for a Canadian political party -- contest an election with candidates and a then-popular leader. The result? A shocking disaster: the party that won a large plurality... won the election! I know! How could we Dippers let something so horrible happen to Fair Maiden Canada?

Heath takes aim at the most obvious problem in the NDP-is-Satan myth that Liberals love so much: Mulroney's strength wasn't in areas where the NDP won seats. The one area of Canada where Mulroney's support stayed rock-solid in 1988 was in Quebec, where his appeals (coded and otherwise) to the separatist vote won him 63 seats. Quebec is the only province where Mulroney's public support actually grew between 1984 and 1988. Or to put it another way, Mulroney won more seats in Quebec, 1988, than the Liberals and NDP won in Ontario combined.

But of course, to actually deal with these facts, Liberals would have to look at why Quebec was such fertile ground for Mulroney in the 1980s, and the answers there, if dealt with honestly, would lead directly to questioning the unquestionable Cult of Trudeau. And it wouldn't serve the (apparent) main purpose of Liberals today, which is hating the NDP with a fiery passion.

This shouldn't matter, anymore. We're almost 20 years removed from 1988, and back then I was grappling with the thorny issues of... long division and proper conjugation of the french verb "avoir". But sure enough, a few months ago when Jack Layton was on TVO, you've got useless idiots like Rick Salutin blaming Jack for Harper, "just like in 1988." Clearly, this situation is hopeless.

Speaking of doomed Liberals leading their party to successive defeats under a bumbling leader against a rejuvenated Conservative party, I'm also reading Right Side Up by Paul Wells, finally. I'm enjoying it much more than Heath's (sorry Jamey!) and hopefully not just because it confirms every low opinion of Paul Martin that I ever had. A more thorough review should be coming.

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