Not One of the Boys

by Sharon Carstairs
272 pages,
ISBN: 0771590164

Post Your Opinion
by Allan Levine

YOU COULD NEVER accuse Sharon Carstairs of not being frank and honest. As leader of the ManitobaLiberal Party from 1984 to 1993, she played politics according to her own rulesand refused to be bullied by anyone, especially the male politicalestablishment that so often confronted her. In Not One of the Boys (Macmillan, 272 pages, $24.95 cloth), Carstairs recounts her life story and offers herversion of how she rebuilt the Manitoba Liberal Party to become the first female leader of a provincialopposition in 1988. Born into a politically-mindedfamily in Halifax in 1942 (her father was Senator Harold Connolly), Carstairsearned degrees in education and history before entering politics, first inAlberta and later in Manitoba. Her experience has led her to conclude thatwomen in this country are still not treated as equal partners by their malecounterparts, by the media, or by the general public. Carstairs is not one toforgive or forget very easily. You can almost hear that steely, high-pitchedvoice for which she is so famous, as she chastises the many men who havecrossed her -- Lloyd Axworthy, John Turner, and Gary Filmon areamong those on a lengthy list of offenders. Unlike other politicalmemoirs, Carstairs`s recollections are not full of sordid tales of backroomnegotiations and secret meetings. While her condemnation of "oldstyle" politics in many instances rings true, she often sounds too muchlike the former schoolteacher she is, admonishing her students to behavethemselves. (Perhaps this tone explains her excessive use of exclamationmarks!) Nevertheless, SharonCarstairs leaves Manitoba politics with her integrity intact. A "voicewith a difference" in the provincial legislature, she was most certainlynot one of the boys.

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