Literary Review of Canada May 2021

Where the country’s best writers, thinkers, and artists come to take a stand on the topics that matter most. An unrivalled source of long-form reviews and commentary.

Literary Review of Canada
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10 Issues

in this issue

1 min
our contributors

John Baglow reads and writes in Ottawa. Murray Brewster reports on the military and foreign policy, usually from Parliament Hill. Kelvin Browne is the executive director of the Gardiner Museum, in Toronto. Christina Cheung teaches secondary math and English in Oakville, Ontario. Elaine Coburn directs the Centre for Feminist Research at York University. Brad Dunne is a freelance writer and editor in St. John’s. Sheree Fitch is the author of Mabel Murple, Kiss the Joy as It Flies, and many other books. Keith Garebian is working on a new memoir, Pieces of My Self. Mark Kingwell has written numerous books, including The Ethics of Architecture. Paul Marsden is a former military archivist for Library and Archives Canada and NATO. Julie McGonegal is the author of Imagining Justice: The Politics of Postcolonial Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Cara Nelissen wrote Pray for Us Girls. Amanda…

3 min
consider the snark

WHEN FUTURE HISTORIANS tell the tale of this unending nightmare, they will have plenty of primary source material from which to draw. But to save themselves some trouble, those distant scribes might simply lift passages from The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll’s wonderful nonsense poem from 1876. On the constancy and conviction of Doug Ford or Jason Kenney or François Legault, for example, they might observe, “He was thoughtful and grave—but the orders he gave /Were enough to bewilder a crew.” On the various restrictions that have kept large shopping centres open and small outdoor patios closed, they might note that “the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes.” On the clarity of public health messaging, they might recount how officials “all spoke at once, so that none of them…

6 min

RE: Historical Friction by Patrice Dutil (April) I WOULD LIKE TO THANK PATRICE DUTIL FOR reviewing my book, Transforming the Canadian History Classroom: Imagining a New “We.” Discussions about teaching, learning, hist ory, the nation, and our identities within that nation are important to have, and I am always humbled when my ideas contribute to these conversations. These discussions can be fraught and difficult and are best held when they begin with respect for others and with clarity on one’s position. Forums for big issues often start with a version of this idea: respect for others and awareness of the “I” statements versus “we” assumptions. I think in history classes, in particular, this awareness of one’s self and of others is foundational for learning an honest and transformative history that helps one…

11 min
lost and fonds

IN 1967, AS THE NATION CELEBRATED ITS one-hundredth birthday, the federal government opened the new Public Archives and National Library, just west of the Supreme Court of Canada. The building’s Soviet-style facade disguised two stunning reading rooms, with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the Ottawa River. Inside, it was a thoroughly modern facility, in both form and function. The nine-storey granite structure, designed by the noted architecture firm Mathers & Haldenby, was the perfect complement to another move the government made that same year: reducing the period researchers had to wait for the release of federal records, from five decades to three. The halcyon days of Canadian history soon followed. The deluge of materials that came into the public domain lured scholars — those studying political and military hist ory, as well…

4 min
do you have an appointment?

At the Pleasure of the Crown: The Politics of Bureaucratic Appointments Christopher A. Cooper UBC Press 148 pages, hardcover, softcover, and ebook IN THE EYES OF MANY, THE AMUSING Sir Humphrey Appleby, portrayed by Nigel Hawthorne in the BBC series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, represents the quintessential public servant: cool, calm, and firmly in control. But how does a smug deputy minister — the one who knows where all the political bodies are buried — actually come to have a job in the first place? It’s the Byzantine workings of this world that Christopher A. Cooper tries to explain in At the Pleasure of the Crown: The Politics of Bureaucratic Appointments. Cooper, who teaches public management at the University of Ottawa, acknowledges that the comings and goings of high-ranking administrators can seem “frivolous…

34 min
period piece

John Lawrence Manion joined the federal public service in 1953 and held numerous roles until his retirement as principal of the Canadian Centre for Management Development, in 1991. Since then, the annual Manion Lecture has addressed “pressing public policy and public management issues that affect the professional roles and responsibilities of public servants in a way that challenges orthodoxies, speaks to the future, and broadens horizons.” On December 10, 2020, the veteran political commentator Jeffrey Simpson delivered the Manion Lecture via webcast, from which the following is adapted. IT IS AN HONOUR TO DELIVER THE ANNUAL Manion Lecture. The circumstances of its delivery are perforce unique — thank you, COVID-19 — but the name attached to this speech remains the same. I did not know Jack Manion, but I’ve heard much…