Party Of One

A different kind of book review

Party of One
Author: Michael Harris

Those of you who know me well, know that I am not an avid reader. But, at times, I do spot a book with a title and a sleeve that attract my attention.  Because of my line of work, this particular book caught my eye so I went to the Legislative Library and signed it out using my staff card.

The book sat at my desk for a few days before I actually opened the cover and read the synopsis. I was instantly intrigued and began to read. It did not take long before my eyes spotted a grammatical error – page one and first line of Sign of the Times – an unnecessary comma. Eight lines later – same error and then a long dash that looks more like a hyphen.  Long dashes are not hyphens. Long dashes separate a thought from the main subject. They need a space after the main thought and before the sub-clause begins and then again after the sub-clause ends and the sentence gets back to the subject of the main clause. Sounds complicated; but, it is actually quite straightforward and logical. Unfortunately, few people care.

Grammatical and sentence structure errors are detractors and, unfortunately, the book loses its appeal to people like me. Nevertheless, since I have only arrived at page 11, I decide I best set the disappointment aside and continue reading.

The gist of the book is basically that Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, was born with an inquiring mind. He is a person who always questioned the status quo and subtly let his views be known through announcements, policy changes and legislative amendments that are presented as though acquired democratically. He is a complex or perhaps hidden person who doesn’t understand the distinction between working as an individual and working as a team player. It is either that or he simply does not believe in team work. I find this perplexing as he apparently loves to play hockey, the ultimate of team sports, and regularly watches hockey games. He also plays a musical instrument, in a band – a band that apparently is quite good. A band can only be good at the mercy of its musicians.

This book portrays Mr. Harper as a loner and a dictator masked in democratic clothing. His work persona is a personality that does not play well with others. With that demeanor, it is hard to understand how he has held on to the leadership of his party and been Prime Minister of Canada for so long.

As I read through the pages I developed an impression that lying and cheating is okay as long as you don't get caught. If you are caught, don't expect the boss to stand up for you and don't expect the boss to take ownership. Do whatever you have been directed to do and wear the consequences. The book cites several examples such as the Senate Scandal, the Auditor General investigations, First Nations litigation, abandoning Kyoto and devaluing scientific research. The Prime Minister is portrayed as a master or masterminded, almost czar-like and Caspar at the same time. Whenever the sky falls, he always seems to stand high above the tangled web or be completely out of sight.

When I turned the final page of this book, the first thought that came to mind is Democracy -- what is that exactly?

For people who are curious about the complex composition of the work ethic and spin within the world of politics, this would be a good reference source. Although I had trouble getting through the first dozen pages of the book for other reasons that relate to me and my passion, I did manage to put that aside and read all of it with significant interest.