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Cohen, Dian and Kristin Shannon.

Montreal, Eden Press. c1984. 203pp, paper. $9.95, ISBN 0-920792-44-8. CIP

Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

This book will be a Canadian best seller. Written in an easy-going style the non-economist will understand, The Next Canadian Economy is exciting, challenging, and very provocative.

To provide the data for this book, economists Cohen and Shannon interviewed many experts from a variety of backgrounds and assimilated their responses. Their conclusion, which will not surprise too many Canadians, is that our economic and political institutions are not working and will not help us to succeed in the future.

Business people, union leaders, and politicians in control have all experienced the vibrant, prosperous Canadian economy of the post-war years. The politicians' main activity in the past was to redistribute wealth so that all Canadians could benefit from our prosperity. Business experienced unheard of growth and the rise of the conglomerate. Unions also grew and became strong enough to challenge the most powerful corporation.

All of this has changed. Big corporations are not best. Some of the biggest have faced bankruptcy. Unions have been devastated by the prolonged recession. Politicians must now learn to scale down the size of government and redistribute scarce resources.

The success of The Next Canadian Economy lies in its challenge to decision makers to face up to reality. Canada is changing. The past will not return. How Canadians adapt to these changes will depend on those with the power. If they are unable to rise to the challenge of the technological revolution, Canada will not be able to compete in the big leagues.

The signs that our economic and political systems are not working have been loud and clear for those willing to listen. The growth of the underground economy, new political parties such as the Green Party, and the militant groups picketing all over the country are good examples. In the prosperous post-1945 period when the system worked, there was little evidence of such frustration, Cohen and Shannon have clearly shown what the problems are. Will we find the solutions?

Thomas F. Chambers, Canadore C.C., North Bay, Ont.
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