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Leslie, Peter.

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1987. 213pp, paper, ISBN 0-8020-5677-6 (cloth) $35.00, 0-8020-6611-9 (paper) $15.95. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 15 Number 6
1987 November

Peter Leslie is director of the Institute for Intergovernmental Relations at Queen's University. As such, he is well qualified to discuss Canada's national economic and political goals. What these goals have been in the past and how they are changing are important topics and should be understood by as many Canadians as possible. Leslie's book, however, is noi likely to achieve this objective. It is geared to too small an audience. Few people outside an advanced seminar on Canada's economic prospects will read it because most lack the concentration and the background the book requires.

Some of Leslie's assumptions may also be questioned. He says, for example, "The interplay of economic policy and the politics of constitutional change has been prominent throughout Canadian history, but never more so than in the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s." To most students of Canadian history, nothing has been of more profound importance than Confederation and Macdonald's national policy. They are responsible for Canada as we know it today. The second national policy that included social welfare and an agricultural price support system did not fundamentally change the country. Neither has the third national policy which, starting in 1974, was to develop an economy based on technological innovation.

There are also some contradictions in the book. Leslie claims, for example, that Ottawa wanted to strengthen the manufacturing position of central Canada. He also claims that "a major undeclared purpose" of the National Energy Program was to shift "the locus of industry activity to remote sites in the arctic and off the eastern seaboard." Can one policy achieve two contradictory goals?

Some notable aspects of government policy are ignored by Leslie. He argues that Ottawa always wanted to strengthen central Canada at the expense of the regions. If this is true, why have we had so much money spent by DREE and its successor? I always thought it was to develop strong regional economies, a goal with few, if any, successes.

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