Mike Harris Made Me Eat My Dog


148 pages
ISBN 1-55022-368-2
DDC 971.3'04





Illustrations by Steve Nease
Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


These humorous essays from Linwood Barclay’s Toronto Star column
satirize Mike Harris and his neoconservative government who have been
running Ontario since 1995. Barclay’s best weapon is his ability to
replicate Harris’s Orwellian-style doublespeak. The following, for
example, is Barclay’s take on the premier’s famous Common Sense
booklet: “The line-up at the public trough is over: It’s time people
stopped counting on the state to make a living for them, unless of
course you have made a career in politics, first as a trustee and then a
school board director, then an MPP and finally as a premier, and have
fixed it so that you have a whopping fat pension to set you up for life
once you’re booted out of office.”

Other themes in this collection include suggested reading while waiting
for medical attention in an Ontario emergency ward (War and Peace and
Moby Dick), Mike Harris’s favorite Hardy Boys adventure (The Ghost of
Democracy in the Ontario Legislature), and Do-It-Yourself surgery for
Ontario taxpayers.

Occasionally, Barclay seems to be wielding a cudgel rather a rapier.
One piece about government ministers using Coles Notes to read their own
legislation bludgeons the point black and blue. Another commentary about
the government’s preoccupation with casinos shows similar trauma. But,
nine times out of ten, Barclay’s satire cuts deep and cleanly. Barclay
dedicates his book to Mike Harris—and no wonder, a premier of
Harris’s calibre is a satirist’s dream come true.


Barclay, Linwood., “Mike Harris Made Me Eat My Dog,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2619.