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REVIEWS 495 nationalrightsand a revolutionary.' The demonstrably accuratestatementhere is that Riel wasa MEtis.Though he acknowledged himselfin early yearsa British subject,he neverclaimedto be or actedlike a Canadian.He took no interestin QuEbecnationalism nor did QuEbec showanyinterestin hisstruggleexceptat the timeswhenit wasbeyondhelp.Farfrombeinga revolutionary, hewas- inthemost laudableandunpejorativesense of the term- areactionary,seekinga return to the pastof MEtisself-sufficiency, an order that hadsadlyceased to beviablewhenthe buffalobecame extinct.Onecan join Dr Charlebois wholeheartedly inhiscondemnationof thepoliticalstupidity anddishonesty of Macdonald's pseudo-policy for the Canadianwest; onecan join himin hissympathy for Riel(whilefeelingprivatelythat Dumontwasfarthebetterman),butonecanin nowayagreewithhispresentation of Rielasa'revolutionary' hero,a kindof prairieBethune. GEORGE WOODCOCK Vancouu•T TheCommunist Partyin Canada: A History. •v^N^V^KVMOV•C. Toronto, McClelland andStewart,•975-PP.x, 3o9. $5.95. TimBuck: A Conscience for Canada. OSC^R R¾^N. Toronto,Progress Books,•975. PP. xvi,3o2.illus.$9.95cloth,$4.95paper. Whenthesurvivors of theMackenzie-Papineau Battalion werebeingscrutinized for repatriationhomefromSpain. in theautumnof •938,aBlimpish immigrationofficer from the UnitedKingdom,knowingthatmostof themenhadlosttheir passports, insisted theyprovetheirprevious Canadiandomicilebynaminga prominentCanadiancitizen .Theseratherbatteredvolunteers from WinnipegandVancouverand SudburyandToronto and half a hundredmore townsinsistently repliedin UkrainianandEnglish andFinnishinflections: T•MBVCK!! In that yearTim Buckwasa prominentCanadian,probablyat the zenithof his popularity.Althoughhewouldliveonfor anotherthirty-fiveyears,Buckfoundhis greatmoments in the •93os- in thecrisis years,ashecalledthem.In thatdecadeTim Buckand the Communistparty of Canadacameasnear to synchronism with the mainstreamof Canadianconcerns astheyeverwould.Never againwouldthe man andthepartyinspiresuchloyalty,suchgood-will.The partysurvives to thisday,its members morethaneverforcedtosuffertheultimateindignityof beingignoredas theircompatriots eschew eventhemostbenignof radicalstrategies. Here aretwonewstudies of Tim Buckandthe Communistpartyof Canada:the one, a portrait-memoirbasedupon forty hours of taped interviewswith Buck conducted byMacReynolds andthecBcduringthemid-•96os; theother,ascholarly chronicleof the historyof the partyfrom itsinceptionthroughthe pastdecade, derivedfrom theavailable secondary sources published in English,German,Russian ,and Ukrainianand from interviews with veteranparty memberssuchasJ.B. Salsberg andStanleyRyerson,but not indebted,evidently,to thosec•c interviews. The contrast between thetwobooks isstriking,instructive, andinevitable. OscarRyan'snarrativewascommissioned bythe'Tim BuckMemorial Fund'and, 496 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW naturally enough, isawarmandlovingtributetoitssubject. Buckisrepresented asa manof character, humble,good-natured, a masterpolitician, anadvocate of human rights, aproudstudent ofMarxandLenin.Yet,forallofRyan's elaborate andoften poetical flourish,Tim Buckeludesthereader.Somuchthatneedstobe described andassessed goesunnoticed, andwhena sensitive, controversial episode israised, thatmoment slips bywithonlyacavalier glance. If Ryan wants ustoappreciate Buck's career andtheservice ofthisremarkable mantoCanada andto'progressive' politics, thenhemustunderstand thathisaudience todayhasfewillusions aboutthesanctity, nevermind the genius,of politicalparties.Certainly,the memoirsof a political statesman are usuallyasenlightening(and readable)ashis collected speeches. I regretthat TimBuck:A Conscience for Canada, thoughstylish in format and truly poignant attimes, is,afterall,another'document,' liabletothesame sortofanalysis as oneof Buck's'73 books,booklets and pamphlets.' In otherwords,thisparticular treatmentisbynomeans thedefinitive,unequivocal biography. One need notask the commuhists tobeany more forthright about their errors of judgment,theirmisplaced allegiances, theirhubris thanonemightof theLiberalsor the Conservatives.Even so,I must note the seven-linedismissalof the Soviet-German Treaty of Non-Aggression and Friendshipasa bid for timeand asa rebuttalto the refusalof Franceand GreatBritain to forge an alliancewith the SovietUnion 'to frustrateHitler'sopenwar threats...' Similarly,the Gouzenko caseisgivenshort shrift, Fred Rosebeingthe only culprit namedin the all-too-briefaccountof the arrestsand trials which followed. (Gouzenko'sdefection is not even mentioned.) Ryandoesalludetothe'tremorsfromwithinthepost-war socialist states - Hungary, EastGermany,Poland,Czechoslovakia,' butonlyto indict'theestablishment's commentators in Canada'who'letloosea succession of uninhibitedpropaganda deluges thatbrainwashed many,includingsomecommunists.' Yet, we knowthat eachof thesecrisesprovokedgenuineconfusionand despairon the Left. Finally, Ryan asserts that while Buck did not defend Stalin'scrimesasthey were revealedby Kruschev,still 'one must not lose sight of his [Stalin's]massivecontribution in buildingtheSoviet state especially duringthetoughdecade afterLenin's death.' Tim Buckisnottobeexcused asa Sovietagentanymorethanheistobebeatified. He possessed a singularlyunassuming disposition, workedall of his life for the laboringclasses, wasa man of abidingdignity,but he wasa Marxistin the midtwentieth century, andthisisarole,aburden,thatisnoteasily comprehended, not evenbythefaithful. Professor Ivan Avakumovic hascomposed a historyof the Communistpartyof Canadathatisintelligentandarticulate.It is,to my knowledge, the firstof itskind and soisboundtobereadcarefullyandcriticallybyall of thosescholars whohave interested themselves in one or another feature of the movement. I would have wished,for example,that the author had inserteda profile of that elementof Canadiansociety whichhasgivensuchunstintingsupportto the Communistparty anditsprogrammes: therankandfile,the'saltoftheearth,'astheycalled themselves. Theirs wasan allegiancewhich wasinspiring,often noble,and if mostremain anonymous, stilltheyleft theirmarkswhereverthecommunists foundcombat. The historyof the party includesthe historyof public attitude toward its REVIEWS 497 philosophy andmission. The response of the cc• isalreadya matterof record,but what of the other parties and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 495-497
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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