Speaking Out Louder: Ideas That Work for Canadians.


448 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 978-1-55263-688-7
DDC 971.064'8






Reviewed by Hugh Mellon

Hugh Mellon is an associate professor of political science at King’s
College, University of Western Ontario.


Politics is about many things. Most of us are used to identifying its existence in instances involving power, authority, and competition for office. Another manifestation is the act of persuasion. Presenting ideas and personalities in hopes of winning over adherents and mobilizing supporters is an equally important aspect of public life. This book is a good example of such an effort at convincing and energizing. The author, Jack Layton, has had a long and interesting career in public life, culminating with the national leadership of the New Democratic Party. Here, he presents policy insights while also highlighting the parliamentary efforts of the NDP.


Layton devotes extensive attention to social concerns such as the environment, the status of women, Aboriginals, and health care. His interest and commitment to change is clearly evident. As a reader I was perhaps more engaged by several of his portraits of particular individuals. My favourite is the mixture of description and character study in the account of his official meeting following the June 2004 election with then–Prime Minister Paul Martin. The curious case of the Martin era becomes easier to understand when we read of his prime ministerial combination of talent and ego. Meanwhile, Layton’s references to the personal and political experiences of his wife, fellow MP Olivia Chow, and his father Robert, a Mulroney-era federal cabinet member, are also interesting. Those attentive to the personal dimension might note the sections referring to Chow’s bout with cancer as well as Layton’s tale of assisting his father in the search for suitable long-term care late in his life.


As pointed out at the outset, this is a work with clear and partisan aspirations. Those interested in such things will find Layton a spirited author with broad policy observations. Others, admittedly, may tire of the partisanship or the strong authorial presence. In any event, those intent on civil discourse and open debate can welcome the effort at literate persuasion and encourage politicians of all parties to attempt comparable writings.


Layton, Jack., “Speaking Out Louder: Ideas That Work for Canadians.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28171.