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The Nature of Politics

Grant MacEwan once quipped, "After food and girls, my greatest interest is politics." MacEwan was fortunate enough to gain experience in all three levels of Canadian politics: municipal, provincial, and federal.† In Poking into Politics, first published in 1966, MacEwan set out to reawaken political enthusiasm by writing a book that explored democracy and the values of public service and that offered insight into MacEwan's own personal political experiences. Thought often difficult to understand, politics affects everyone in one capacity or another, and MacEwan believed it was necessary to publish material that could educate Canadian on the nature of politics in Canada.

MacEwan divides the book into two parts: "Voter" and "Politician."† In "Voter," MacEwan explores the origins of democracy, particularly examining how Greek and British models affect the political landscape in Canada.† MacEwan takes a long, hard look at the nature of politics in the Canadian West, from significant events to some of its key players. He tackles the contentious Red River Rebellion, the battle for British Columbia, and the establishment of two new prairie provinces in Alberta and Saskatchewan. MacEwan also explores the history of Canada's two long-standing political rivals-the conservatives and the liberals.

Poking into Politics is MacEwan's first book that covers political history of Canada, a topic he felt had been largely ignored. He wrote the book while serving as Alberta's lieutenant governor, and the content reflects his strong concern for democracy, integrity in politics, and sound journalism.

In part two of Poking into Politics the author provides amusing stories and insight into the life of a Canadian politician. Until the publication of Journals, it was the closest thing to a MacEwan autobiography. MacEwan's role as a public servant was a valuable experience. He spent four years as a member of the provincial legislature, nine years as an alderman, and nearly three years as the Mayor of Calgary. Poking into Politics is a collection of some of his most candid observations. By sharing some of his insight into the nature of politics, MacEwan hoped to inspire Canadians and have them view politics in a different light.†

(Read a selection of chapters from Poking Into Politics here.)


MacEwan, Grant. Poking into Politics. Edmonton: Institute of Applied Art, 1966.

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††††††††††† For more on Grant MacEwan, visit Peelís Prairie Provinces.

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