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Book Reviews

All in Good Time

by Brian Tobin with John Lawrence Reynolds

Brian Tobin is a rarity in Canada: an ex-politician who many people wish would return to the political arena. Indeed, since his departure from the legislative arena, the man many people called “the Tobinator” has left something of a charisma void on the national political scene.

While nobody can be sure whether Tobin will bring his colourful persona back into the fray, readers can at least content themselves with his new memoir, All in Good Time, written with veteran journalist John Lawrence Reynolds. The book is a refreshing change from the typical memoir of a career politician. Tobin sacrifices the usual heavy dose of bluster and self-aggrandizement in favour of healthy amounts of wit, honesty, and straightforward reporting of key events and people.

Tobin begins the narrative with the one event that will likely secure his place in the history books: his endorsement, as federal fisheries minister, of the famous March 1995 firing of several 50-calibre machine guns across the bow of the Spanish trawler Estai. The warning made the rest of the world take notice of Canada’s determination to protect its waters from illegal fishing by other nations. “Who,” writes Tobin in the introduction, “could be behind such an atypical act?”

That’s the question he aims to answer in the book’s subsequent 280 pages. Tobin does so with a well-crafted blend of personal anecdotes, political reporting, and numerous tales of encounters with the big names of Canadian and international politics. Throughout, All in Good Time remains an entertaining autobiography that, buoyed by its subject’s strength of character, will appeal to a wide non-fiction audience.