Canadian Politics Unplugged


150 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 1-55002-466-3
DDC 971'.002'07






Illustrations by Peter Whalley
Reviewed by Geoffrey Hayes

Geoff Hayes is an associate professor of History and the Director of
International Studies Option at the University of Waterloo.


Eric Nicol has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a columnist, a
playwright, and the author of more than 35 books. He has written about
almost everything—golf, football, sex, tennis, his beloved Vancouver
and Canada—and three times has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal
for Humour.

Since the days of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canadians have always been a
ready audience for political satire. But it is a fair bet that Nicol’s
most recent skewering of Canadian politics won’t win him a fourth
Leacock medal. This is a fun, light book “for people who have no idea
how Canada is governed, i.e. visitors, illegal immigrants, and citizens
who have lived in this country all their lives.” Nicol takes playful
aim at all the usual targets: both houses of Parliament, the cabinet,
the prime minister, political parties, Quebec, Toronto, and politicians
in general. In both length and tone, the work strives to be a funny
“Lament for a Nation.”

The problem is that the book is not all that funny. Like Peter
Whalley’s simple cartoons, Nicol’s humour seems dated. Or perhaps
the present state of Canadian politics is no laughing matter. Possibly
Nicol’s style is the problem, or it could just be me. My father has
always loved puns that are bad enough to make his family cringe. He
might like this book, for Nicol cannot let a line go by without trying
out another pun. Sometimes they work (e.g., “The main advantage of
being a Liberal is never having to say you’re Tory”), but even his
best efforts wear thin after a while. Stuart McLean admits in his
introduction that he has never met Eric Nicol, but would like to. So
would I. He would be fun to meet, a real curmudgeon. If only he would
lay off the puns a bit.


Nicol, Eric., “Canadian Politics Unplugged,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,