Think Big: My Life in Politics (Paperback)

Think Big: My Life in Politics By Preston Manning Cover Image

Think Big: My Life in Politics (Paperback)


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He built a party from nothing to become Leader of the Opposition in just 14 years Preston Manning grew up in a political household but his first career choice was as a business consultant. It was only years later, when he sensed a rising discontent among fellow Westerners, that he decided the time was right to establish a reform movement. In the fall of 1986, he wrote a memo in Calgary. In the spring of 1987 he addressed a meeting in Vancouver. In the fall the Reform Party’s founding assembly was held in Winnipeg. And from then on the movement’s progress was unstoppable.

This is a candid account by Reform’s founder, and the father of the Canadian Alliance, of the most extraordinary story in contemporary Canadian politics. Manning describes Reform’s first battles: the election of “Senator-in-Waiting” Stan Waters, the grassroots campaign against the Charlottetown accord, and the hard-fought 1993 federal election. He frankly acknowledges some of his party’s early missteps in Ottawa. But he also recounts with vigour the cynicism – and worse – that was evident in the behaviour of the governing Liberal party. Manning denounces Mr. Chrétien’s mishandling of the Quebec referendum. And he recapitulates in devastating detail the full story of Shawinigate.

Manning describes the birth of the Canadian Alliance. He follows the agonizing growing pains it experienced under Stockwell Day’s inept leadership and he considers what might have been. He is candid in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the party’s current leadership. Of his own career – post-politics – he is cheerfully forward-looking: there is challenging terrain ahead and Preston Manning proposes to serve as an advance scout.

This is a thoughtful, informed, sometimes surprisingly funny memoir by a man who has attained, by dint of his own extraordinary achievements, stature as a contemporary statesman.
Preston Manning was one of the principal founders of the Reform party in 1987. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 and resigned his seat in January 2002. He is a Senior Fellow with the Fraser Institutue; Senior Fellow with the Canada West Foundation; Distinguished Visitor in Canadian Public Policy with the University of Calgary; and Distinguished Visitor in Political Science in the Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto.
Product Details ISBN: 9780771056765
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: October 21st, 2003
Pages: 464
Language: English
“Policy wonks will remember Manning’s memoirs for his parting insights on some of the issues that will dominate the Canadian agenda for the coming decade – medicare, the environment, or the future of western Canadian aspirations. Political junkies will parse Manning’s memoirs for his words on Day and for his impressions of Harper, as guarded as they may be. But Chretien should worry that it is the chapter Manning devotes to Liberal ethics over the course of his tenure that historians come to make their own.”
Red Deer Advocate

“Political power escaped Preston Manning; political influence never did from the day he and others formed the Reform Party of Canada”
–Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail:

“Manning…is one of a kind….Many Canadians have never taken him seriously. Others were with him from the start of the Reform experiment. And a few of us grew to realize, only in the last few years of his career, the magnitude of his talent and his commitment to all of this country. Think Big will appeal at least to the latter two groups, and may even give the first occasion to reconsider.”

“…disarmingly frank.…And in one devastating chapter, he sums up the ethical failures of the Liberal government more powerfully than any single précis I’ve yet read.”
National Post

“Faith, ethics, morality –these are his themes, and he returns to them time and again as he relives past glories, settles scores and muses about the future.”

“The overarching theme of the book, as the title suggests, is thinking big. For Manning, the Alliance represented one aspect of this idea. His dream was to move beyond the Reform party’s regional base and build a political tent large enough to accommodate social and fiscal conservatives, small-d democrats and reform-oriented federalists from across the country. He never achieved that goal. He did, however, send a signal to traditional party brokers in Ontario and Quebec that the West was capable of producing a formidable party, one that may yet achieve those objectives. The effort to create the Canadian Alliance was an important step along that road.”
Vancouver Sun

“Manning is speaking blunt truths. His party should listen.”
–Regina Leader-Post

“The literary voice is familiar, authentic, un-massaged; you sense there is an inner struggle to write from the heart without completely sacrificing a certain emotional distance he’s come to call friend. It’s the very mirror of his life in politics.”

“The loss of his political voice, taken for granted for so long, spoken on behalf of so many, was clearly the biggest defeat of all. He no longer feels so constrained.”
Edmonton Journal

“His early years are recounted mainly to indicate he always thought big, which is not untrue, and nicely focuses the whole book. Description of the ideas and emotions that spawned the Reform Party is quick and effective.…His accounts of political campaigns are well-paced.…His dogged though fruitless efforts to learn French are wittily rendered.”
Calgary Herald