Faultlines: Struggling for a Canadian Vision
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
Title: Faultlines: Struggling for a Canadian Vision; by Jeffrey
Simpson; Harper Collins; Hardcover, 395 pages; $26.95
Reviewer: A. T. Connellan, "A uniquely personalized montage
of Canada, portrayed by a wordsmith with few peers. Anyone
less skilled would produce terminal ennui."
Simpson explores our psyche
We are a flawed country with a faulty constitution. That we have
functioned this long as a nation is more a tribute to persistence
than good management. Journalist Jeffrey Simpson, now on
sabbatical, as a Knight's Fellow at Stanford University, after
completing his 20th year with Canada's best newspaper,
understands this better than most.
Canada has no shortage of players in the national pastime of
Constitutional Navel Gazing. Many have come before author
Simpson and more will follow, but few will have taken such a
novel approach in their exploration of the Canadian psyche.
Jeffrey Simpson has presented us with a portrait of Canada
as he and others see it. For Faultlines, he identified the
situations or challenges that faced the nation, and labelled
them. Then, like an artist faced with a canvas flawed, marked,
weakened and slightly torn, he sought out those who could
provide not only recommendations for repair but who would
lend an assortment of colors for his palette.
Some of the faces may be familiar, some are new. All are the
product of their own unique Canadian experience, and have
much to say. The eloquent voices of Georges Erasmus,
Mary Eberts, Derek Burney and Leon Dion accompany those
of Preston Manning, Joe Fratesi, Clyde Wells and Lucien
Bouchard. Each contributes colors varying in hue, depth,
richness, and softness.
History is the final judge of events and individuals. The Free
Trade Agreement seen through Derek Burney's eyes will
provoke a second regard for many of us. Clyde Well's
extraordinary political cowardice on Meech Lake may come
to be viewed as the seminal act that livened the Reform and
Bloc parties with their leaders idiosyncratic visions of Canada.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, language rights,
and aboriginal self-government are examined from the inside
out. Charged by first hand experience they add a visceral
vigor to the "artists" vision, but make no mistake the brush
belongs to Simpson. The vignettes are his. A uniquely
personalized montage of Canada, portrayed by a wordsmith
with few peers. Anyone less skilled would produce terminal ennui.
This is not a book for those addicted to the puerile mind candy
of public affairs television. Simpson doesn't pander for
understanding. He challenges cognition in tight, dense sentences
that cause literary double-takes. The reader wonders, are these
really faultlines, or are they the essential strands of steel that
give the Canadian fabric its' inherent durability?
At this pivotal point in our history you are asked. What is your
vision of Canada, your thoughts and recommendations? On the
journey to your conclusions, and of all the works available on the
subject, this brilliantly conceived book, cogent and coherent in its
assessment, is the recommended read.
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