Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Political Science Canadian

Politics & Players

by (author) Ian MacDonald

Policy Magazine, McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
May 2022
Canadian, Commentary & Opinion
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


In the turbulent period from 2018 to 2021, Canada saw a majority government reduced to minority standing, a political dynasty tainted by scandal, a neighbouring nation’s struggle to transfer power, and a paradigm-changing pandemic. Political insider L. Ian MacDonald, recognized for his clear-minded commentary on national and world political issues salient to all Canadians, guided his readers through it all.

In this third collection of columns and articles from Policy magazine, the Montreal Gazette, and iPolitics, MacDonald focuses on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s uneven leadership at home, the Canada-US relationship with Donald Trump in the White House, and Ottawa’s management of health and economic policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapters on prime ministers past and present, hot-button issues such as pipeline protests and the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement, and analysis of major elections show these standalone pieces as components of a cohesive body of political commentary.

In these last four years, everything happened at high speed. Politics & Players ably navigates the terrain.

About the author

Ian Macdonald was born and educated in Glasgow and worked for several years on Scottish newspapers before moving to Canada. He was a reporter in Ontario and Alberta before finding his way to the West Coast where he worked on the Victoria Colonist, the Vancouver Province and the Vancouver Sun. He was Ottawa correspondent for the Sun for five years before becoming press officer for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He made an award-winning documentary film, and then turned seriously to the writing of history. Betty O'Keefe was born in Vancouver and wrote for the Province newspaper for several years. She then moved into the field of public relations as a consultant and later as supervisor of communications for a large Canadian corporation. In 1988 she opened her own communications company, but decided that her real interest was in writing history. Together, Betty O’Keefe and Ian Macdonald have co-authored a dozen books.

Ian MacDonald's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“With his characteristic clear, graceful prose, Ian MacDonald takes us into backrooms and onto stages alongside major players. In the process, he explains how important policy initiatives get done and why. If he makes it all seem deceptively easy, that’s because he knows the players first-hand – and the process. Required reading to understand how our country works – or, sometimes, doesn’t.” Anthony Wilson-Smith, Historica Canada

“The thing that makes Ian MacDonald’s columns interesting and important to read is that he’s worked on the inside at very senior levels of government and knows how it works. And it shows.” Brian Mulroney, former prime minister of Canada

“Institutional memory is one of the things readers look for in a political columnist. It helps in writing about politics and government to have been there and done that. For example, the writer of a throne speech sees how a government’s agenda is defined. The pandemic has been an example of functional federalism: health care and child care are issues for the whole country, but both are in provincial jurisdiction. Reconciling the two is a challenge for the federation, in which institutional memory is important in getting it. MacDonald gets it.” Lori Turnbull, School of Public Policy, Dalhousie University

“Ian MacDonald brings years of work and an extraordinary memory to his informed and readable narratives about public events and public policy. Early in his career, he was a television critic, which gave him a sharp eye for how political events are presented and perceived. He returned to journalism after working as a prime minister’s speech writer and as a diplomat in Washington. As a result, he has a deep understanding of the mechanics of public policy, an ear for eloquence, and an insight into the private bonds that link public people. From Trump and Trudeau to the all-government mobilization to deal with COVID-19, he provides a compelling sense of the humanity of politics and the politics of public policy that Canadians have been living through.” Graham Fraser, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

Other titles by Ian MacDonald