When I glanced at the list of best-selling nonfiction books in the weekend paper, I noticed that three incendiary Canadian titles were among the top five.
First was Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (Alfred A. Knopf Canada). It's an amazingly well-researched and well-written account of why governments and the United Nations have failed to address global warming.
She shows how some famous billionaires are aiming for a quick fix with fanciful geoengineering schemes that could easily harm hundreds of millions of poor people by distorting rainfall patterns and ensuring that ocean acidification continues.
If it weren't for the rise of a grassroots global movement to keep carbon in the ground—witness the recent Kinder Morgan protests on Burnaby Mountain—there would be little hope for humanity.
Number four on the nonfiction list was Michael Harris's Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada's Radical Makeover (Viking). Harris, a veteran journalist and author, describes in incredible detail how Harper has secretively micromanaged the federal government, treated veterans abysmally, undermined democracy, replaced government watchdogs, muzzled government scientists, and will likely waste untold amounts of money on the F-35 fighter-jet plan.
Harris also delivers an outstanding account of the robocall scandal and the Harper government's dealings with wealthy scoundrels. It's a splendid book.
The fifth entry on the nonfiction bestseller list was John Ralston Saul's The Comeback (Viking), a short book showing how aboriginal people have made enormous progress in recent years. We're seeing it in the arts, universities, professions, business, politics, literature, and popular music, to name a few areas. But it's something that was rarely acknowledged in a big way in the Canadian mainstream media until Saul pointed it out.
Saul's erudite book shows that we have a lot to learn from First Nations in their fight to preserve the environment.
All three of these books fill a huge gap left by daily newspapers that have cut back their coverage of climate change and First Nations issues, and present a mostly positive view of the prime minister.
I attribute the success of This Changes Everything, Party of One, and The Comeback not only to how good these books are, but also to the fact that the authors are meeting the public's pent-up demand for progressive viewpoints.
In Klein's book, she exposes how some of the world's best-known capitalists, such as Bill Gates, are financing investigations into how to alter the climate, which could have deadly consequences. Where have you read that in a daily newspaper?
Meanwhile, most daily newspaper owners probably aren't keen for their writers to portray Harper as a petty, mean-spirited, gutter politician who's dreadfully wrong about the most important issues facing Canada, including climate change and reconciliation with First Nations.
This is especially true of those daily newspaper owners who need federal approval for takeovers or to obtain cherished broadcast licences. Meanwhile, some of the largest advertisers, such as Canada's energy-industry executives, also won't like Harris's depiction of Harper. Nor will they be thrilled with Saul highlighting First Nations' stunning string of victories in the Supreme Court of Canada, giving them enormous clout in the fight against more pipelines.
Every once on a while, you'll see daily newspapers referred to as bulwarks of democracy. This is despite many of them providing massive amounts of space to blowhard, climate-change-denying columnists. Most daily papers have run editorials before elections endorsing Harper and the Conservatives.
For me, Canada's real bulwark of democracy remains the book-publishing industry. That's because if you pick the right titles, you'll find the truth about what's really going on in this country.