On The Take: Crime, Corruption And Greed In The Mulroney Years Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 1995
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When On the Take came out in 1994, it made author Stevie Cameron a household name in Canada. Her book's revelations about the rampant corruption and petty greed of Brian Mulroney's decade in the prime minister's office reverberated for many years in the Canadian political landscape and helped destroy his Progressive Conservative Party. (The party, one of Canada's most venerable, never recovered from Mulroney's stewardship and eventually merged with the Canadian Alliance Party.) Cameron, one of the countrys leading investigative reporters, was one of the few reporters to consistently question and probe the corruption of the Mulroney years. She has a wonderful ear for storytelling, which helps make On the Take a page-turner. Cameron seems to rejoice in recounting the numerous unseemly episodes of the Mulroney administration and depicting all its seedy characters and hangers-on. Mulroney comes across as having been most comfortable in a powerbroker's backrooms, surrounding himself with dodgy bagmen and devious lobbyists. Cameron suggests that the country was "open for business," with a "for sale" sign on the front lawn. She writes that even in their final official act, as the Mulroneys departed from office in disgrace amid record-low popularity ratings, they tried to stiff taxpayers into buying their used furniture.
If On the Take can be faulted, it's because it feels a tad partisan. The implication seems to be that Mulroney was somehow much worse than other Canadian leaders--when, in fact, the subsequent regime of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was also marred by many corruption scandals. Cameron does a fine job of exposing Mulroney, but she seems to blame corruption too much on personality rather than any deeper, systemic causes. That said, On the Take is still a classic of Canadian nonfiction and a masterful depiction of how power is wielded in Ottawa. --Alex Roslin
From the Publisher
"The year's most hotly discussed Canadian book."
-Globe and Mail
"Reads like a thriller...Unputdownable."
"There has never been another book quite like this in the history of Canadian political journalism."
-Michael Bliss, Toronto Star
"A most dangerous, disturbing, and frightening read."
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Top Customer Reviews
Do other politicians take advantage of their power? Undoubtedly. But I question whether this level of graft and greed has been known in Canada in modern times. The details of the myriad ways the Mulroneys financed their lavish lifestyle go on and on and on and on. Some we read about in the newspaper during the Mulroney years. Most are fresh revelations.
In light of recent news about Schreiber giving Mulroney $300,000 in cash in hotel rooms and the subsequent re-opening of the Airbus bribery scandal, all Canadians should read this book.
One marvels at how Cameron keeps track of everyone involved, the politicians, their bag men, the riding organizers, business people and so on, all of whom it seems have to be rewarded once Mulroney became Prime Minister. Rewarded with government contracts, plum jobs or even Senate appointments for helping to get him elected. There was, apparently, an unwritten rule that 5% of any government contract was returned to someone who helped get it - even if it was a member of parliament; one cabinet minister directly asked for it, but otherwise it was hard to nail down. Cameron comes down hard on news editors who avoided news in order to avoid being told off by Mulroney's people. She also comes down hard on the RCMP because it seems they also evaded their responsibilities.
The book is inevitably a little hard slogging because of the sheer number of stories, peoples' names and their positions; it certainly helps to have recollections of the events at the time. Karl Heinz Schreiber makes a couple of brief appearances, but this was before he became a figure in the daily news.
There are a few bodies in this book, and it seems unlikely they all committed suicide, though no charges were ever laid. It also seems likely that there was (and is?) money stashed in a secret European bank account. Both Mulroneys clearly have extravagant tastes, much of it was supported by the taxpayers.
How can one prevent all this recurring?Read more ›
The book is full of incidents and scandals which reveal not only the excesses of Ottawa privilege brokering but the morbid sense of entitlement to lush perks (at the taxpayer's expense) to which the Ottawa political class has become accustomed. Corruption in party politics, administrative corruption and the professionals who mitigate scandal damage are all actors in this Faustian political page-turner.
At this time, this book is a historical account of the business of politics in Ottawa in the 80s, it is a starting point for those who wish to understand how these events repeat themselves in every subsequent majority Ottawa government. Some day this cycle of privileged entitlement will be broken, but I'm afraid not in our lifetime, as it seems we've resigned ourselves to this behaviour in our leaders and party system.
Most recent customer reviews
This book led to a lawsuit that cost Canadian Taxpayers a reported $64Mil CDN. Any book that can do that deserves attention. Read morePublished on April 22 2006 by Rolly Bettse
Ms. Cameron's book landed like a bombshell on the Canadian political scene. I suspect that her book is one of the main reasons the Tories have never been able to recover from the... Read morePublished on Dec 10 2001 by browngeoff
While Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister of Canada he endured far more unfair press than any Prime Minister in Canada's history. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2000 by Charles M Sherrin
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