I am currently working a government job (albeit not a federal government job), and this was presented to me as required reading. While I can definitively say that I would prefer to assign my own leisure hour reading, this was better than expected.
Wernick was a former high level federal government worker; he was never elected but sat close to the highest elected officials in the land, from both of Canada’s main political parties (the Liberals are Justin Trudeau’s party and akin to the democrats; the Conservatives’ current leader is populist firebrand Pierre Polievre and they are akin to Republicans. To make things confusing for Americans, the Liberals’ color of choice is red and the Conservatives ‘vote blue’). ** is writing his text for any future prime ministers (‘PM’, our equivalent of the US President), Ministers (elected representatives who get given specific responsibilities for things like Energy or Immigration) and Deputy Ministers (career public servants, or the ‘deep state’ if you believe that sort of thing). Each of these office holders gets a chapter of advice, with the PM getting the longest chapter and the Deputy Minister getting the shortest.
I really appreciated how concise Wernick was. This was a generously margined 200 page novella, and I whipped through it in a few hours (Nassim Nicholas Taleb take note and obtain yourself a better editor). He did not repeat himself and he was very clear about what the main point was in each short section within a chapter. I also appreciated the grand overview of the duties of each of these offices- I’m not a hardcare political junkie, so I couldn’t have told you before I read this what occupied a politician’s day. Spoiler: it is a lot of stuff, often minute and picky and boring sounding stuff. I am frankly amazed that these people can get anything done, what with all the various ways their days must be divided (meet with constituents, read briefings, corral committees, meet with indigenous representatives, prepare for a question period, read your own and everyone else’s proposed legislation, give a press conference, manage a staff, try to solve the carbon tax problem, etc.
I will caveat this review by saying that if I was not currently in a government job I don’t know that I would care about the info in this book. Maybe for a highschool social studies class, to given kids a greater understanding of how the ‘mechanics of statecraft’ actually work? I wish I could tell you that I would care because I’m a good citizen and love democracy, but man the minutia could bore a person to sleep if they didn’t have context (it reminds me of reading a guidebook if you’re not planning on travelling- you could do it, but why would you invest that time until you’ve booked a ticket?).