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Edited by Chuck Reasons. Toronto, Between the Lines, c1984. 216pp, paper, ISBN 0-919946-46-1 (cloth) $22.95, 0-919946-47-X (paper) $12.95. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Lois Hird

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

Who benefited the most in Calgary during the oil boom of the late 1970s? Seven Calgarians attempt to answer that question, while challenging a statement made in the text, "what is good for business is good for all of us." Described by the editor as "an inquiry into both the boom and the bust," the book is a selective analysis of Calgary's corporate world.

Corporate ideaology is evident in other Canadian cities one writer acknowledges, but states it is "nowhere as pervasive, total and unchallenged as it is in Calgary, Alberta." The bust is attributed to priorities and decisions made by a few influential sectors, rather than to government interference into the business of corporations. According to one writer, it was the corporations who benefited from the Canadianization of the oil industry, because they are the real owners.

The influences of the oil industry, real estate, and city government, together with the administration of (he Calgary Stampede and Ihe 1988 Olympic Committee are scrutinized in detail, chapter by chapter. However, no mention is made of the health care system, a major public concern during those same several years.

One corporation, Imperial Oil Limited, is singled out for harsh criticism along with two individuals, Patrick O'Callaghan, publisher of the Calgary Herald, and Mayor Ralph Klein. Two oilmen are given passing credit for establishing two major museums, but the significance of the Glenbow Museum or the Nickel Museum is not explained.

A chapter devoted to western separatism seems to be included to further criticize the corporate world, as the writer of that chapter acknowledges that the movement never had a major base in Calgary.

The final chapter discusses those who suffered during the boom and bust. Among the individuals mentioned (there are no companies, although Dome Petroleum's situation is explained earlier) are a worker injured at a major construction site, a homeowner who went to jail in a foreclosure dispute, and a few social interest groups who had disputes with the corporate world or city government.

The writers are qualified to speak out, one is a former alderman, another is a newspaper reporter, and the others have backgrounds in sociology. The book though, reads like a sounding off by a few dissatisfied citizens. While there is mention that history repeated itself, there are no suggestions of remedies or possible changes to prevent the situation from recurring. However, the book does give a detailed account of the multiple problems Calgarians faced during a unique crisis.

Lois Hird. Calgary, Alta.
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