Decision at Midnight:
Inside the Canada-U. S. Free-Trade Negotiations

by Michael Hart, Bill Dymond,
448 pages,
ISBN: 0774805145

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Brief Reviews - Non-fiction
by Clive Cocking

IT RATTLES the old stereotypes to come across a book written by bureaucrats that's both interesting and easy to read. But Decision at Midnight: Inside the Canada-US Free-Trade Negotiations (UBC, 472 pages, $35 cloth) is exactly that, as well as an important, revealing account of a vital period in our economic history.

The authors -- Michael Hart, Bill Dymond, and Colin Robertson -- were mid-level trade officials, part of Canada's negotiating team, who began writing the book while negotiations were underway, which may account for its freshness. Withheld from publication by the government for six years (while the controversy cooled), the book presents a fascinating inside look at the process, the people, and the politics of negotiating the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement. There's much good stuff here about the history of the issue (our schizophrenic flirtation with free trade), the evolution of our final drive for a deal (in the face of an initially hostile bureaucracy), the tense bargaining between Canada's "pugnacious" Simon Reisman and the United States' low-balling "haggler" Peter Murphy, and the truly Byzantine style of American decision-making.


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