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What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise-and Collapse-of Nova Scotia's NDP Government

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A Globe and Mail Nonfiction Bestseller

Shortlisted for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing (Writers' Trust of Canada)

"A brutally candid assessment of what it's like to serve in government [...] Set in Nova Scotia, the experiences he describes could be those of any politician in any legislature in the country, including the House of Commons." - Jane Taber
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published September 4th 2014 by Nimbus Publishing (CN) (first published September 3rd 2014)
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Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read. Graham Steele comes off as to-the-point and honest, but he's also likeable and has a sense of humour.
Andrew Hull
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Short, plain spoken account of life inside government. Makes a person wonder why anyone would want to put themselves through it.
Tom Wile
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for anybody in Nova Scotia with any political interest at all! I didn’t wanna like this book because I didn’t want to like Graham Steele. I’m not a fan of his political party, but what I learned was this book is not a treatise for the NDP. The author did a fantastic job of outlining what a life in Nova Scotia politics looks like, and how difficult it is to affect change. Very well done.

I actually picked this book up at a book fair, and it was signed by the
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure what to say about this book - it's still playing on my mind and I feel there are sections I need to re-read and digest. The fact that I want to do this is due to the fact that the book is well written and very readable. It gives you a good insight into the political machine, and I can't decide if I'm depressed about it or feel perhaps a little more armed, as a citizen to deal with it. I think it's required reading if you live in Nova Scotia and are of voting age (or anywhere near ...more
Philip Girvan
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Former Nova Scotia Finance Minister Graham Steele's brief book contains two stories: 1) a recollection of his time in Province House with particular emphasis on the NDP Government; 2) a critique of Nova Scotia's political culture.

The book provides fair summary of the NDP Government's political missteps. Steele offers frank criticism that I found revealing and informative.

The critique is accompanied by a set of rules, which centre around a politician's prime directive of securing reelection, and
Dean Jobb
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating and compelling insider's account of political life. Graham Steele writes from the heart, with clarity and in a conversational, no-nonsense style. Ever wanted to sit down with a politician over a beer, to find out how government really works? Read this book. Steele is honest and forthright in his analysis of what's wrong with politics in Canada -- and what citizens can do about it.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I recommend this book highly, especially for Nova Scotians regardless of political persuasion, as well as for political junkies in general. Well written and very approachable.
Paul Leblanc
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Candid and from the heart!
Peter Moreira
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Steele writes a compelling tale about handling politics and government finances. I want to disagree with him in several places but he is convincing in his analysis of the problems facing NS.
Steven Langdon
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a book that I have been looking for in many places for months. How could the NDP in Nova Scotia have gone from victory to severe defeat in just four years? I expected Graham Steele, their Finance Minister who resigned on principle at one stage, to provide much insight.

There are certainly remarkable pieces of information in the account: the party had no worked out plan for their move into power, despite strong expectations of victory; as Minister of Finance, Steele and Premier Dexter
Alex Rascanu
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Insightful read about Nova Scotian politics.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a great book for some insight into provincial governments and governments in general coming from an mpp who became cabinet minster and eventually resigned.
Linda Leafloor
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Better than I expected.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant take on Dexter-era Nova Scotia politics from an insider - if you want to learn more about our (backwards) political scene and why we are where we are today, this is a must-read.
Paula Dembeck
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is written by a highly respected Nova Scotia politician, a man who spent fifteen years in politics including four as a Cabinet Minister. It is not a “tell all” book, although it includes information which up to the time of publishing, was not publically known. It is simply a man sharing his observations about our political system, how it works as opposed to how it was designed to work and an honest recounting of his experience in the Nova Scotia legislature. Steele entered politics for ...more
Brennan Gillis
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely excellent read for anyone interested learning more about the state of politics in Nova Scotia. While it focuses on the NDP's short governing period, the insight is relevant to anyone who cares about the realities of politics and government in Nova Scotia (or any province). Graham Steele raises awareness of our political state. This is highly recommended for anyone contemplating a political career or anyone who wants to really understand the workings of our government.
Erica B
Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it
This started off a bit dull and like a poli-sci text, but then the last half got into the interesting points of seeing what was going on. As a public servant, probably my favourite part was when he said he believed that civil servants should get the same percentage pay increase that MLAs got. Being part of a government that gave themselves a much better pay increase than what they offer the people doing the brunt of the work (as noted in this book) is a bit off-putting to say the least. Anyway, ...more
Mary Lou
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
The sub-title reveals part of the story, Inside the Rise- and Collapse - of Nova Scotia’s NDP Government. But the book is more than that. It’s a very personal story about disillusionment. Steele was a Rhodes scholar and a man who wanted to make a positive difference in his world. He quotes Enoch Powell: "All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.” The book is his own story of that ...more
Political memoirs are always interesting, and this one is no exception. I especially liked his "Rules of the Game" and that one of them is "policy debates are for losers."

I felt like Steele did fall into his own trap and followed the rules of the game quite closely - he couldn't seem to acknowledge that all parties take part in governing and bear some responsibility to what happens in the province, even if they are not the governing party. He lays blame for Nova Scotia's woes on any party but
Mj Amirault
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting book, Graham Steele writes what he feels was the failure of the NDP during their time in power. He lists a set a rules politicians need to adhere to if they want success. According to Steele, much of the success or failure is out of the party-in-power hands, it is pre-ordained by what has gone on before they won the election. Although some of the failure or success can be change somewhat by how the party-in-power reacts to situations, but this does not necessarily change what it ...more
Jason Deveau
I wasn't sure which rating to give this book, so I landed halfway at a 3. It deserved a 5 for its well-written glimpse into the life of a principled politician and his struggles with the status quo political system. On the other hand, it deserved a 1 for the amount of cynicism conveyed about politics, which could lead to further voter apathy and discourage citizens from participating in the political process.
Shawn Bigley
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must for anyone interest in politics, and NS politics specifically.
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Mar 30, 2019
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Graham Steele was a member of the Nova Scotia legislature from 2001 to 2013. He was the minister of finance and minister of Acadian affairs (2009–2012) and minister of economic and rural development and tourism (2013) in the Dexter government.

Graham is now heard regularly as a Nova Scotia political analyst for CBC. Before entering politics, Graham was a lawyer in private practice and in