by Tom Mulcair
When it comes to politics, I will admit that, while I can be highly opinionated, I have historically been largely apathetic. In making it my quest to become a more informed, active (hopefully) citizen, I figured that reading the memoirs written by leaders of major federal parties would probably be helpful. Since I was leaning toward voting NDP in the October election, I felt that a good place to start would be with Strength of Conviction, and, while I wouldn’t exactly say it scared me away, I wouldn’t say it was necessarily helpful in securing my vote.
In Strength of Conviction, Mulcair succeeds in writing the equivalent of dry sap: rarely exciting and frequently, well, sappy. It had a flow to match such a description, jerking away from observations from his past to awkwardly cram in jokes and his political beliefs. Of course, as much as I felt this was a measure of poor writing, I suspect that everything that garnered my criticism was, sadly, due to the author’s intentions. Mulcair appeared to be doing everything in his power to come across as a common man, like a friendly neighbour or an uncle that you hardly see. And, of course, it’s not all bad: From having a front row seat at such important moments of our past, such as the 1995 referendum in Quebec that very nearly tore the country apart, Uncle Tom actually has some interesting things to say. By the end, I’d even venture so far to say that he effectively finds his voice, becoming downright inspiring.
So, did Strength of Conviction teach me much about Mulcair or his party? Perhaps, though I’m probably jumping to conclusions that he would prefer I didn’t, mainly based on a writing style that didn’t work for me. Luckily for him, I don’t judge writing abilities too high on my list of requirements for the competence of a politician.