Look Ma... No Hands: An Affectioinate Look at Our Wonderful Tories


206 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-7704-2007-9





Reviewed by P.J. Kemp

P.J. Kemp was a journalist living in Brigham, Quebec.


This is a look at the Tories all right, but it is not particularly affectionate, and the Progressive Conservatives come off looking somewhat less than wonderful.

The most interesting part of the book briefly deals with the history of the PCs, who have apparently always chosen their leaders by default and done their best to undermine those leaders at every turn. The Joe Clark phenomenon was not new or unusual, only the most recent in a lengthy and tedious line of Caesars and Brutuses.

Fotheringham then goes on to do his own skewering of the last four PC leaders, beginning with the surprisingly peculiar Diefenbaker. Robert Stanfield garners a very respectful and, yes, even affectionate review from the critical Foth, who wistfully concludes that Stanfield was the right man at the wrong time. Even Joe Clark rates some respect, though Foth does not hesitate to hoist him on the petard of his various and sundry incompetent ventures that eventually lost Clark his leadership. Mulroney, as yet an unknown quantity, gets only a skimpy review, missing the usual cuts to the viscera that Foth is so well known for.

Parts Two and Three of Look Ma... deal more with the many flunkies and minions who work so hard to keep it all going in Progressive Conservative land. In other words, it gets as dull as a Hollywood gossip column to someone who doesn’t accept that Hollywood is the beginning and end of Western civilization. Perhaps we should care about how the people who run the political machines think and conduct themselves; but it’s one of those “shoulds” that’s right up there with losing weight, cutting out smoking and drinking, and being nice to your spouse. Or, fried cabbage can’t be made appealing by pouring tart sauce over it.

A nice thing about Foth is that he actually seems to like women, and not necessarily just in all the old familiar places, either. PC women are described in glowing and even loving terms, with heartfelt pleas for more women to involve themselves in politics. “The Party of Grey and Blue” chapter might profitably be distributed to all Canadians of the male persuasion by way of pointing out that women are indeed not only part of the human race, but also part of the political process.

Overall, Look Ma... No Hands could have benefitted from some firm editing, but it is otherwise lively, witty, and informative reading.


Fotheringham, Allan, “Look Ma... No Hands: An Affectioinate Look at Our Wonderful Tories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/37665.