Brian Mulroney: The Boy from Baie-Comeau


226 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88862-693-2




Reviewed by Alexander Craig

Alexander Craig is a freelance journalist in Lennoxville, Quebec.


The best words to describe this book are, appropriately for journalism, “zippy” and “snappy.” It’s been, to use another such term, a quickie, so we can’t expect much new material, searching criticism, or analysis. We can, on the other hand, expect a lively, fast-moving, and readable account of our present Prime Minister’s rise to power, and that is what we do get.

The authors show us how Mulroney has, even since his student days at St. Francis Xavier, carefully built up a large and wide network of friendships. One of the drawbacks of the book lies precisely in that aspect of the man: much of the material in the book is drawn from these same people — largely youngish, pleasantly aggressive yuppy types (one of the authors even ran as a PC candidate in the election that took Mulroney to the prime-ministership), so that’s another reason for not expecting a great deal of criticism. Any negative views that do appear, therefore, stand out. The United Steelworkers up on the North Shore are far from enthusiastic about Mulroney’s term as president of the Iron One Company of Canada. And later in the book the authors note that “Brian Mulroney can deliver a speech with such a rich mixture of blarney and glucose that it has been known to knock listeners into a diabetic coma.”

Yet it is still too early to expect anything more than a survey of where Mulroney is coming from, and how he managed to reach where he is. In this respect, the book offers a lot of interesting material on the Tory Party in Quebec, Mulroney’s style, and his leadership campaigns.

While the book is about the past of Brian Mulroney (hence the subtitle and the fact that, for example, Chretien and Turner have only two and one references, respectively, in the index’s nine pages), it’s also a guide to where the country as a whole might be heading. Thus, the reminders we get of the rhetorical flourishes — some people might call them excesses — serve not only to show how Mulroney got where he did, but also to show one way, among others, to keep a watch on our leaders.


Murphy, Rae, Robert Chodos, and Nick Auf der Maur, “Brian Mulroney: The Boy from Baie-Comeau,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,