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Time to Change

Richardson, Boyce
Publisher:  Candian Institute for International Peace
Year Published:  1990  
Pages:  300pp   Price:  $14.95   ISBN:  ISBN 0-929091-18-3
Time to Change is one book that can be judged by its cover: it features an hourglass, and the caption "An award-winning writer reveals critical information on the environmental, economic, military and social challenges we must confront in order to achieve a safe and secure future."

Journalist and film-maker Boyce Richardson's synthetic report was inspired by the 1987 Brundtland Report on Development and the Environment, and sponsored by the Institute for International Peace and Security (IIPS). The book makes a strong, statistically-informed case for the extension of the Brundtland "sustainable development" thesis to Canada. That is, economic growth is necessary, but the distribution of wealth must be just and the environment protected.

Each chapter is given over to one of the topic areas mentioned in the caption. Throughout, an evaluation of Canada's participation in global and domestic policy and programs is combined with histories of issues as various as agriculture and the arms race. Richardson's sources comprise expert reports, books, interviews and useful scraps from the table at a series of IIPS-sponsored dinner-dialogues.

Richardson's diagnosis of Canada's problems recalls what author Margaret Atwood once described as the country's "schizophrenia":
"It is open to question whether we will continue to have the national coherence necessary to adopt the needed policies. The very existence of Canada has always been an act of faith against geography. But the size of the country, the small population, and the great decentralization of powers among the provinces has a certain balkanizing effect and prevents adoption of consistent industrial and economic policies."
Richardson's solutions involve an empowered U.N. and renewed Canadian and international commitment to existing protocols on the ozone layer, nuclear proliferation and other issues. The book is written as if by a newspaper columnist with unlimited column inches, and intended for the layperson concerned for current affairs.

Time to Change gives great encouragement to the work of non-governmental organizations and to a more politically active citizenry. A connection between economic development, environmental health and social justice is insisted upon throughout, and evidence given that a newly aware public may be humanity's last, best hope.

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