Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada

Article excerpt

Peter C. Newman, When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2011), 304 pp. Cased. $32.95. ISBN 978-0-307-35826-4. Paper. $22. 978-0-307-35827-1.

On 2 May 2011 the party that governed Canada for 68 years of the twentieth century was reduced to a rump of just 34 seats out of 308 in the House of Commons. What had been for so long 'the natural governing party' of Canada was relegated to third-party status in the Commons. On top of this, the party was leftleaderless with the defeat of then party leader Michael Ignatieff.

In this book, Peter C. Newman seeks to chart the political waters in which the Liberal party ran aground so spectacularly. While the book has the leadership of Michael Ignatieffas a backdrop, Newman contends that 'the book is less about [Ignatieff] than about the looming disappearance of the Liberal party' (p. xiv). As a journalist, Newman creates a very readable narrative of the decline of the Liberal party, offering many insights into the dramatic reversal of party fortunes. Perhaps most significantly, Newman points to this political routing as being as much Ignatieff's inheritance as his own doing, focusing on the numerous other systemic issues facing the Liberals. Chief amongst these is having a regional power base and a way to fund itself, both of which the Liberals have struggled with.

Newman points out the failure of the Liberals to spark any flame of interest with Canadians in the 2011 election. Whether through the party's anaemic response to attack ads against Ignatieff, or the inability to recruit star candidates to energise their campaign - Newman calls this 'another glaring gap' (p. …

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