The Book Shelf

A Fat Lot of Good

by Hal Sisson

Published 2002 by Salal Press
Box 36060, Victoria, BC V9A 7J5
ISBN 1-894012-06-2 $9.99

By Sue Potvin

If, like me, you have family members and friends who refuse to give credibility to your theories that our government has an easy solution to solving our national debt problem, this book provides a great way to sneak this information to them.

Mr. Sisson sent me his latest book, A Fat Lot of Good; and because I so much enjoyed his laid-back style in The Big Bamboozle and was primed for an easy read to weave in between the many tomes that weigh so heavily on my soul, I started reading it almost immediately.

It quickly became obvious that the hero of the book, Phillip Figgwiggin, Q.C. (retired), had most likely been modelled on the author himself, so much do they seem to have in common.

Certainly Phil has a grand old time as an amateur sleuth, attempting to solve the murder of his godson, Dr. Dick. He involves his buddy, almost octogenarian Mike Fowler and together, the two old fogies crawl into action. With nitro spray firmly in hand and tongue firmly in cheek, they draw on their lifetime of experiences, braving bombs, bombshells and coronary crises while they close in on the murderer.

But the author is a wily old character himself. About a third into the book, with his character on a long drive to somewhere, he reveals Canada's monetary problems -- most precisely and concisely. One questions how seriously a reader might take it, given it is seated in a work of fiction. But for those whose minds remain forever closed to the possibility, it may be a great way to force them to absorb the concept, opening the door to a personal follow-up outside its pages.

Should you decide to gift the book to your Aunt Martha, be forewarned that the f-word is used, perhaps a bit gratuitously, a few times.

Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Mr. Sisson has a wealth of experiences from which he draws his characters and plot ideas. He was a reporter for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. He practiced law for 32 years, "retiring" in 1984 to (as he puts it) "devote time to croquet, marble collecting and writing fiction." He conceived, produced and starred in Sorry 'Bout That, the longest running annual burlesque revue in Western Canada.

And his sparkling wit is translated to the pages of his books, providing his readers with a fun read and sometimes a new way of seeing things -- on days that may not otherwise bring the best of news in these times.

Fraud, Deception, Manipulation

The Parliament of Canada has deceived the Canadian people since 1917 by imposing direct taxation on incomes and why this tax is illegal

By Robert A. Marquis, C.A.

The author, a Richmond Hill, Ontario, resident, started his research on this topic in the 1970s. The work experience that contributed to his knowledge of the subject includes service with Motorola Canada Limited, Grand and Toy Limited and as a financial consultant with the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. The book was first published in 1999, ISBN 0-9684802-0-9, $19.95.

The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace

Introduction by Howard Zinn

Published by Beacon Press
25 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass. 02108-2892 USA
ISBN 0-8070-1407-9 (2002)

By Sue Potvin

With the assault on our senses that is coming from every direction in these violent times, this peace-promoting anthology is a wonderful bedtime companion. It is packed with the wisdom of many of the great thinkers -- of our time and before our time.

"War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times," Zinn warns in his introduction. He wants us to take our example -- not from the military and political leaders, but from the doctors and nurses, firemen and policemen who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem, "whose first thoughts are not vengeance but compassion, not violence but healing."

"The cry for peace in these essays is not simply a protest against war," Zinn writes. "It also presents a vision of a different world, and suggests a way to fulfill that vision."

". . .one is scared to find at what a cost the peace of the globe is kept," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in the exerpt from War. "He who loves the bristle of bayonets only sees in their glitter what beforehand he feels in his heart. It is avarice and hatred; it is that quivering lip, that cold, hating eye, which built magazines and powder houses. . .If you have a nation of men who have risen to that height of moral cultivation that they will not declare war or carry arms, for they have not so much madness left in their brains, you have a nation of lovers, of benefactors, of true, great and able men."

In the exerpt from Civil Disobedience, we learn (or are reminded of) Henry David Thoreau's thoughts: "Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it." And "There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor. . ."

From his 1919 trial records, we hear words from Scott Nearing that are every bit as timely today: "the great curse of war is not that people are killed and injured, not that property is destroyed. That happens every day in peace times as well as in war times. To my mind the great curse of war is that it is built on fear and hate. . .Peace and love are positives and form the forces upon which civilization is built. . . war creates a hell inside of a man who goes to war. He is going to work himself up into a passion of hatred against somebody else, and that is hell.

Almost 50 years ago, Albert Camus deduced that the 20th century was one of fear and he wrote that the men of his generation were living "more and more like dogs." In Neither Victims nor Executioners, he made such insightful observations as: ". . .a man with whom one cannot reason is a man to be feared." And "We live in terror because persuasion is no longer possible." And "We suffocate among people who think they are absolutely right." And fear "implies and rejects the same fact: a world where murder is legitimate, and where human life is considered trifling." And ". . .little is to be expected from present-day governments, since these live and act according to a murderous code." And ". . .if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward." He might have written all these words in 2002.

Among the two dozen people whose words bless this book are also included the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Jonathan Schell, Arundhati Roy and Tim Wise.

Perhaps Mohandas K. Gandhi put it most succinctly when he said, ". . .wherever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love. . . The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work."


Driven by the importance and urgency of the book, Goodbye Canada, I have been buying it in lots of 10 and giving it to people to read with this message:

"This book is given to you with the following request.
1. If you do not read it, or if you disagree with its contents, please return it to me.
2. If you find this book of interest, please pass it, with this note, on to another.
3. If, like me, you become fired by the need to share this message with as many people as possible, please buy extra copies of the book and do as I am doing.

We can choose to sit idly by while the world around us spins out of control -- or we can choose to do something about it.

Thank you for giving this your consideration. Sue Potvin"

Not everyone can afford to take this kind of action. My thought was, "Can we afford not to?" We get so frustrated with those Canadians -- and there are so many of them -- who choose to be blind to all the things they believe they cannot change. But one thing those "ostriches" must remember:

"When you bury your head in the sand, your butt makes an excellent target!"

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by Paul T. Hellyer

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