Labour of Love: The Fight to Create a More Humane Canada


247 pages
Contains Index
DDC 331.88'0971




Reviewed by R. Matt Bray

R. Matt Bray is a professor of history at Laurentian University and the
co-editor of At the End of the Shift: Mines and Single-Industry Towns in
Northern Ontario.


Part personal memoir, part labour union organizational manual, part
political philosophizing, part history of Canadian labour, and part
leftist diatribe, Labour of Love is an interesting mélange of Buzz
Hargrove’s observations about his life and times in the
United-cum-Canadian Auto Workers Union. Hargrove bewails the decline of
the left in Canada, politically and socially, arguing that his own CAW
is one of the few hopes for its regeneration, and rails against the rise
of the new right and its corporate agenda. When addressing issues of a
general political nature, such as the Rae government (“a shocking
disappointment”) or its Harris successor (“an unmitigated
disaster”), much of what Hargrove has to say is predictable and
formulaic. So, too, the labour history segments cover well-traveled
ground. Much more informative, and the real strength of the book, are
the sections that relate his personal experiences in the UAW/CAW, the
cut and thrust of union politics, labour negotiations, and the
like—matters on which he can speak with authority. Elaborating these
experiences would have better served Hargrove’s objective of
resuscitating the left in Canada .

With respect to his personal life, Hargrove decided on “full
disclosure,” as he phrased it. Much of this is anything but flattering
to him and clearly pained him to write. What emerges, ironically, is a
glaring contradiction between his public “fight to create a more
humane Canada,” and the suffering that he quite candidly admits to
having both experienced himself and caused to others close to him.
Public leadership, obviously, does not come without a price that few may
be prepared to pay.


Hargrove, Buzz, with Wayne Skene., “Labour of Love: The Fight to Create a More Humane Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,