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by I. M. Owen

IT WAS BAD NEWS last February that Norman Ward, the clear-headed political scientist and engaging humourist, had died. Hence it was cheering when one last book by him appeared, written in collaboration with a younger colleague at the University of Saskatchewan, David E. Smith. It`s Jimmy Gardiner: Relentless Liberal (University of Toronto Press, 415 pages, $45.00 cloth). James Garfield Gardiner (1883-1962) perhaps isn`t a household name any more, except in Saskatchewan, where the dam that bears his name has created the lake named after his old enemy Diefenbaker. But he was a major figure in his day: premier of Saskatchewan from 1926 to 1929 and from 1934 to 1935, when he entered Parliament and became minister of agriculture; he held that portfolio until the defeat of the Saint-Laurent government 22 years later -- a record for the tenure of any portfolio. In this capacity he created the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration and organized the enormously successful mobilization of agriculture for war. When the CCF won Saskatchewan in 1944, Tommy Douglas`s victory was always said to have been over the Gardiner Machine, though as this book shows Gardiner refrained from meddling in the provincial party after he went to Ottawa. He did, however, inherit and strengthen an effective organization based on local patronage -- "which of the two hardware stores would provide half a dozen shovels for a road crew, which of the two hotels should house an intinerant school inspector, or which of two weekly newspapers should print the voters` lists." Nevertheless, he was a principled politician, a devout Liberal who was also a liberal, a devout Protestant who defended French-language rights and fought the Orange Order and the Ku Klux Klan, a total abstainer who opposed prohibition as he abhorred conscription. He believed in the two-party system -- Tories were abhorrent but necessary to the system, while third parties were contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. And of course he was a fervent supporter of the old Liberal cause of free trade. Partisan politicians often stood for their parties` principles in those quaint old days.

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