Lawrence Martin, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart 1993
Just another book on the grim realities of the Tory decade? Indeed not! This book tackles the process as well as the product, and locates it in a useful and revealing context, that of a shifting group of advisors who pushed, pulled and prodded Mulroney into supporting U.S. policies and practices while identifying ever more closely with the overriding philosophy (neo-conservative, right wing) of the Anglo-American ruling elite.
The advisors included career civil servants, big-business lobbyists, media gurus, influential pollsters, party officials, and various free-lancers including the intriguing Border Boys, steeped in the U.S. corporate culture through intimate contact and longtime immersion.
On free trade, Mulroney had to be persuaded (he had rejected the idea in 1983) despite having himself been a corporate lawyer and CEO of a branch-plant, U.S. based company. The rest came easily. While the FTA rightly takes central place in the narrative, related components of the Tory Agenda are not neglected: the disastrous monetary policies; the whittling away of Canadian social programs; adherence to U.S. foreign policies and neo-colonial wars; rejection of opportunities for a "peace dividend;" and adoption-of U.S.-driven "globalization." Finally we have the paradox of hitching Canada to a model that is in rapid decline and losing support.
Martin's readable account is based upon his own revealing interviews with the hook's leading figures as well as available documents. Alongside the convincing narrative, the book provides a fascinating look at how government policies are actually changed, developed, articulated, and implemented: the "inner" side of public policy formation. Useful knowledge indeed.
Reviewed by John Marshall, a retired professor of library studies