The Way It Works: Inside Ottawa

The Way It Works: Inside Ottawa

by Eddie Goldenberg

View All Available Formats & Editions

The ultimate insider takes us behind the scenes, in the book everyone is waiting for.

As Jean Chrétien’s right-hand man for thirty years in Ministries all over Ottawa, Eddie Goldenberg got to know how things worked — especially from 1993 to 2003, when he was Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister.

What did this title mean? It meant that

…  See more details below


The ultimate insider takes us behind the scenes, in the book everyone is waiting for.

As Jean Chrétien’s right-hand man for thirty years in Ministries all over Ottawa, Eddie Goldenberg got to know how things worked — especially from 1993 to 2003, when he was Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister.

What did this title mean? It meant that Eddie made things happen. For example, during Paul Martin’s years at Finance, Eddie was the go-between who linked Chrétien and Martin, who were for much of the time barely on speaking terms. Or when vital decisions about the Iraq War had to be made, Eddie was the man who wrote the words, “If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate.”

And that’s the way this revealing book works; important decisions are used as case studies as we learn how things really happen in the tough world of politics.

Those less concerned with mastering the system will simply enjoy reading this as an engaging account of an exciting arena, filled with memorable anecdotes about the world’s biggest names.

“Journalists look for winners and losers so as to make good headlines. The real story is much more interesting, but is harder to write, and is very difficult to put in a clip of a few seconds.”

“President Bush smiled and said, ‘You know the guy who wanted to see me, What’s-his-name? I didn’t see him.’ I thought, poor Joe Clark; he had gone from ‘Joe Who’ to ‘What’s-his-name’ in less than twenty years.”
Excerpt from The Way it Works

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“When it comes to veteran Ottawa insiders, it doesn’t get more inside than Eddie Goldenberg.” The Way It Works is “engaging – part tutorial, part memoir, and the hottest Canadian political book on the fall list so far. . . . The real essence of the book, peppered with opinion and anecdotes – some quite surprising and entertaining – is offering a view of the inside, as promised.”
– Alan Kellogg, Edmonton Journal

“Conservatives are going to be lining up for Goldenberg’s book.”
– Roy MacGregor, Globe and Mail

“While he describes ‘complete co-operation’ between finance minister Martin and prime minister Chrétien on the big job of tackling the deficit, Goldenberg casts Martin in an unflattering light on several files. . . . The Goldenberg book also details the uneasy relationship between Chrétien and Martin, outlining the elaborate steps the staffers for each had to take simply to set up meetings and make sure they came off smoothly. And Goldenberg provides his account of the weekend Martin exited Chrétien’s cabinet, portraying Martin as indecisive at best as he tried to keep open the option of remaining finance minister after his own public remarks on his deteriorating relationship with Chrétien had clearly made that impossible.”
– John Geddes, Maclean’s

“Here is a splendid manual on the art of politics and the art of government from a very discreet Machiavellian manager. . . . a fascinating and valuable account of Chrétien’s rise to power and his uses of it. The author’s conclusions arise from a lifetime of personal experience and first-hand observation.”
– Neil Reynolds, Globe and Mail

“Goldenberg doesn’t disappoint. Part political science textbook, part memoir, The Way It Works is a fascinating and sometimes brutally honest look at the way the federal government really operates. . . . Sprinkled throughout are anecdotes that take the reader into the corridors of power and provide new insight into events like the 1996 Quebec referendum on sovereignty, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and Canada’s decision not to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. . . . The Way It Works is a must-read for political junkies, students of history or anyone who aspires to government. However, it’s also a good read for average Canadians who just want to get a better idea of the way their government really works.”
– Elizabeth Thompson, Montreal Gazette

“An elegant primer on government, politics and politicians. . . . As Goldenberg describes it, the improbable relationship to settle separatism began badly. As was his wont, Chrétien set out to put his new minister at ease with a humorous story. Dion’s response was startling: ‘Prime minister, this is a serious matter, and we do not have time for joking around.’ There are other such nuggets that will provide joy for future historians.”
– John Gray, Literary Review of Canada

“The book provides fascinating insights from Goldenberg on one of the leading contenders in the Liberal leadership contest, Stéphane Dion.”
– Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun

Read More

Product Details

McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.08(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 18
Iraq and Canada—U.S. Relations

The Fallout

Around 6:30 P.M. on March 17, after the announcement that Canada would not join the Iraq War, the prime minister phoned me at my office. “What do you think?” he asked. I told him that there had been a lot of initial support in Canada. He was under no illusions. “Yes,” he said, “but it will be very rough. You know that with Bush on matters like this, you are with him or against him. He will be very vindictive.” I listened to what he said and then told him that I had received a call a few minutes earlier from a mutual friend of ours, the leading Canadian historian John English. “John says the decision to stay out of the war has averted a potential major national unity crisis.”

Chrétien asked me to elaborate. English had reminded me of how national unity is never far from the surface in Canada. Canadian participation in the war, he said, would have been extremely unpopular in Quebec. With a provincial election campaign underway, the Parti Québécois would have used a decision to participate in the war to argue that Quebec has no place in Canada because Quebec’s values are so different from those of the rest of the country. In English’s mind, the decision of the Chrétien government meant that the issue of the Iraq War would not be a part of the provincial election campaign. In fact, there had never been any reference to Quebec in all the discussions on Iraq in Cabinet or in any of my own talks with the prime minister. In this case, a positive contribution to national unity was the happy by-product of a decision taken for very different reasons, as was a substantial rise in Chrétien’s personal popularity in Quebec.

The decision not to go to war in Iraq was immediately popular in Canada but, surprising as it might seem from a perspective of a few years later, there was certainly no unanimity at the time. Those who purported to speak for the business community were fearful that the Canadian position on the war could have a damaging effect on Canadian trade with the United States. But it wasn’t just the business community that questioned the decision of the government. When the statue of Saddam Hussein fell in Baghdad, and the war seemed to have ended with an easy American victory, Stephen Harper, then the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, who from the beginning had wanted Canada “to stand shoulder to shoulder” with the United States, was particularly critical of the government position. Some Liberal MPs, who had initially stood in the House of Commons and applauded the government’s principled decision on March 17, began to have different principles a few weeks later when they saw potential for a change in public opinion. When the situation in Iraq later became much more difficult for the Americans, they not surprisingly rediscovered their original principles. By the time of the election campaign of 2004, Stephen Harper was suggesting that he had never really wanted Canadian troops sent to Iraq in the first place; and by the campaign of 2006, he was pledging never to send Canadian troops to Iraq.

Only history will judge whether the war in Iraq was a colossal mistake, or whether it was an extraordinary act of boldness by a brave American president. Whatever the judgment of history on the war, there can be no doubt that the decision of the Canadian government not to participate in Iraq was a seminal event in Canadian foreign policy. I later attended bilateral meetings with leaders of many other countries who went out of their way to congratulate Chrétien for his courage, saying that while they had come to the same conclusion as we did about Iraq, they were not pressured by the same history, trading relationship, and proximity to the United States.

Those who are cynical about politics and who sometimes glibly say that all politicians are the same, and that it does not matter who is in office, should see the decision of the Canadian government not to participate in the war in Iraq as a lesson in the importance and relevance of the democratic process. Voting does matter. A different government with a different prime minister might have made a very different decision, and Canada’s reputation in the world would also be very different.

Read More

Meet the Author

Eddie Goldenberg was born into a distinguished legal family in Montreal, and duly became a lawyer. A summer job as an assistant to Jean Chrétien in Indian Affairs led to a life-long career in politics, where he honed his skills as a writer. He is now a lawyer in Ottawa.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >