You don’t need to know a thing about Canadian politics to cast a ballot this fall. This is, depending on your point of view, the bonus or drawback of democracy.
But what if you are one of those rare voters who wants to walk informed into the voting booth for the October federal election in Canada? How would you study up for what promises to be the rollicking chaos of Canada’s 43rd election?
Here, as a service to those would-be educated voters, or just those who are keen to get a start on all that campaign fun, are some books to add to the summer reading list.
For those looking for simple character references, several are available. Three of the major party leaders campaigning this fall have already introduced themselves to voters with autobiographies.
New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh has the most current book out on the market, with Love And Courage released earlier this year. It’s not exactly your typical leader’s life story, what with the tales of racism and sexual abuse Singh endured growing up, but it reveals lots more about this politician who still hasn’t quite managed to make an impact yet on the federal stage.
Justin Trudeau and Green Leader Elizabeth May put out autobiographies before the last campaign, but both books are still worthwhile reads.
Trudeau’s book, Common Ground, is highly illuminating about his childhood at 24 Sussex Drive and shows why he may not mind that new TV ad saying he’s not like his father.
Much has happened to May since Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada was released — including her marriage to John Kidder this year — but if the Greens do indeed turn out to be the party to watch in 2019, it might be wise to read up on the only woman leader in this year’s race.
For a more up-to-date telling of the Trudeau story, you have to wait a few more weeks. Two of the most eagerly anticipated books for Canadian political junkies don’t officially land until the latter half of summer.
Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister is by National Post columnist John Ivison. Promise and Peril: Justin Trudeau in Power is the work of CBC’s Aaron Wherry.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is the only one of the main party leaders who doesn’t have a biography out and his office didn’t reply to my questions about what books he might recommend for summer reading.
But Scheer’s last boss, Stephen Harper, released a book last fall, Right Here, Right Now, that was self-billed as “a manual for conservative statecraft in a populist age.”
So, maybe a blueprint for a future Scheer government?
We’re going to be told a lot this fall that democracy is at a crossroads — not just here in Canada, but globally, too, thanks to leaders such as Donald Trump.
A whole genre of books is rising up to explore radical shakeups in our political system. David Moscrop has penned Too Dumb for Democracy and Toronto activist Dave Meslin has come out with Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up.
None of these books are required reading, of course. Informed votes are worth exactly the same as uninformed votes when the ballots are counted.
But if election 2019 is a test of our democracy, as many currently speculate, it wouldn’t hurt to go into it well prepared.
Susan Delacourt is a columnist with Torstar Syndication Services.