The Nevi Democrats 1951-19116

by Desmond Morton
253 pages,
ISBN: 0773046106

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Politics and Politicos
by Mathew Behrens

One would not expect the NDP, a party that takes pride in its mass democratic base, to indulge in the glossy hype characteristic of older, more established political forces. Instead, the New Democrats rely on quieter publicity, such as this examination of the party's quarter century on the Canadian landscape.
However, Desmond Morton is unlikely to inspire anyone with his history, which proves as dry and devoid of Mt as any sophomore political science text. In a discussion of some of the most important social gains of the past few generations, one expects lively prose, documentation, and the words of those leaders who sought to create a just and caring society based on "institutions and values that distinguish Canada from the United States."
Instead, we are treated to a skeletal outline that begins with the NDP's predecessor (the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) and brings us to the present. The only direct quotes from the party's charismatic figures appear at chapter headings, and much of the book suffers from lack of anecdote and human interest. After all, it was attention to such details that ensured a popular following for the late Tommy Douglas.
In his introduction, Morton writes of the sense of urgency and excitement that have made Canada's third party a vital force, yet he fails to convey any of that to the reader. We are promised that this account, though written by a New Democrat, will explore both bright spots and blemishes. However, the book seems weighted in favour of the party's moderate sector, which often comes under criticism from the activist wing for failing to live up to its original mandate.
Voters searching for an alternative voice who come across this book might very well stay home on election day.

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