Paikin and the Premiers

Paikin and the Premiers

Personal Reflections on A Half Century of Ontario Leaders

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
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Interviews with and comments about John Robarts, Bill Davis, Frank Miller, David Peterson, Bob Rae, Mike Harris, Ernie Eves, Dalton McGinty and Kathleen Wynne.
Publisher: Toronto : Dundurn Press, 2013
ISBN: 9781459709584
1459709586
Characteristics: 406 p. :,ill
Additional Contributors: TVOntario

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j
JerryTowne
Feb 16, 2018

Considering Paikin's research and writing skills, I would agree that this book underwhelms.

b
baldand
Feb 12, 2016

This is a dreadful book in every way. It is poorly framed: starting with Premier John Robarts, who Paikin never met, when the title requires that it deal only with premiers that Paikin has interviewed. Robarts only seems to have been included because otherwise, even for Liberals, the book would have seemed churlish towards the PC premiers, Paikin not having kind words for any of those he interviewed except for Bill Davis. It is poorly edited, from beginning to end. (Here is the beginning: “I’ve had the opportunity to interview all eight premiers of Ontario”. No, he hasn’t. He has interviewed the last eight of the 25 premiers of Ontario.) The ignorance of basic economic facts of Paikin staggers the mind. (Just one example: the recession of the early 1990s is repeatedly described as the worst since the Great Depression, although by any measure it was milder than the 1981-82 recession under the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau.) His analysis is puerile. (Rae days, the job sharing program of the NDP government instituted to cut government spending in 1993, when the recession was over, is conflated with stimulus measures previously instituted by the government when it was ongoing.) It is incredibly lazy in its editing, even the most obscure references going unexplained (e.g. Shelley Martel, unidentified as a cabinet minister under Bob Rae, or Polkaroo, a character in a children’s show on TVO mentioned by Mike Harris, that saw its last season in 1993 before Harris took office).
Under Paikin, The Agenda has established itself as the Pravda of the Liberal Party. However, it is breathtaking just how shamelessly Paikin shows his true colours in this book: “most of our viewers and close to 100 percent of our employees would have opposed everything he [Mike Harris] stood for in public life”. So 45% of the Ontario electorate voted for Harris in 1995 and 1999 but all or virtually all of The Agenda staff opposed everything he stood for. Of course, “everything” is a bit of a stretch, but Paikin is making a public display of his progressive zeal for his Liberal masters.

j
johnsankey
Jan 26, 2015

Mostly transcripts of Paikin's interviews, his comments are mild but lucid. The best part is when he got four premiers from three parties in the same room together and they agreed on so much. (It begs the question, of course, why they couldn't have been more civil when they were premiers.)

r
rpavlacic
Dec 12, 2014

I was expecting some fresh insider perspective from the one guy who knows Ontario politics better than anyone. Other than a campaign bus comment from Frank Miller and a CBC producer's correct prediction of the 1990 outcome (that Rae would win, and Peterson would lose his seat - which the author admits he laughed at), there really isn't that much here that we don't already know about (except for the extent of John Robarts' issues with depression) other than personal observations. The rest is full of transcripts of interviews from Robarts to Kathleen Wynne - all historical information and not much use to someone expecting to learn something new. Paikin has written much better and is capable of better stuff than this. Next time he should tell a real insider story.

l
Lauren31
Jun 24, 2014

The "personal reflections" in the title is a bit of a misnomer. This book is primarily a collection of transcripts from past interviews Paikin has had with Ontario Premiers. Still interesting, but not exactly a fresh read.

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