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Vancouver, New Star Books, c1984. 31lpp, paper, ISBN 0419573-34-7 (cloth) $12.95, 0-919573-35-5 (paper) $4.95. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Chris Kempling

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

In a province whose politics are as polarized as British Columbia's, it is not surprising that a volume of this nature would be written. The authors and editors of this polemic against the restraint policies of Premier Bill Bennett's Social Credit government are universally critical. One could be cynical and say that since the authors are either professors at British Columbia universities or union researchers, i.e., all victims of Bennett's restraint policies that are strongly directed against unions and education, their objectivity could be called into question. In general, however, the essays examine the facts without too much breast-beating, and invite the reader to compare them with the current government rhetoric.

The bleak, monochrome cover picture of a Vancouver food bank line-up is an ideal tone-setter for this volume of fifteen essays. The essays cover such topics as Socred legislature tactics, the Solidarity phenomena, the "Illusion of the Provincial Deficit," the influence of the neo-conservative Fraser Institute on government policy, and the philosophy behind the education cut-backs. The essays are written for the average reader, who may, however, find them somewhat dry at times.

I can envision, however, New Democrats confronting their neutral or Socred friends with juicy excerpts from The New Reality, all the while sporting "I told you so" looks of smugness. The essays are thoughtfully written, carefully researched, and effectively poke holes in the Bennett government's rationale for the restraint program. Several of the essays also include alternative suggestions that would achieve fiscal restraint but minimize the human hardships.

The main thrust of the essays is that the harshness of the program is unnecessary, and that a large number of British Columbians are suffering in order to please corporation executives, New York bankers, and Fraser Institute right-wingers.

The volume has numerous helpful features including a chronology of events, introductions to each section, and a short biographical sketch of each contributor and editor.

It is ironic that the book was partly financed by the British Columbia government through lottery revenues since, if every voter were to read this book, there would probably be new faces in power after the next election. Recommended reading for all voting British Columbians and indeed, for Canadians who may, under the Mulroney government, experience similar types of fiscal restraint for political reasons.

Chris Kempling, Quesnel, B.C.
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