Community & Current Events

The CBC's Gill Deacon on Minister Without Portfolio

Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

The CBC's Gill Deacon on Minister Without Portfolio

Five books started out as part of the Canada Reads panel—but now only four remain. Today, Minister Without Porfolio by Michael Winter was voted off. But new host Gill Deacon says Canadians shouldn't dismiss the book—because it's still a stellar piece of Canadian literature. We chatted with her by phone shortly after Canada Reads aired and she had this to say about the novel:

Tell me about your perceptions of Minister Without Portfolio.
It’s such an interesting book. The protagonist leaves on a journey to Afghanistan, mostly to get away from his ex-girlfriend and try and mend his broken heart through distance and distraction. Then when he comes back to Canada and decides what he wants to make of his life, there’s a beautiful pace to the story. If you’ve ever spent any time in Newfoundland, or probably anywhere in the Maritimes, I think you’ll really fall in love with the mood and the community. It’s a great story of starting over. There's some lovely imagery of building a house, rebuilding a life and working toward the birth of a new life. 

Defender of Minister Without Portfolio Adam Copeland said that he thought the most Canadian book got voted off today. What do you think?  
He related strongly to that character. He is a white younger-middle-aged man who spent a lot of time in Nova Scotia filming for his TV series, Haven. So he really related to that book as showing a very Canadian experience. Obviously, there are a lot of people for whom that is not the Canadian experience. It’s pretty tough to say which book is more Canadian because there are so many diverse experiences of so many diverse Canadians. So that was his perspective. Adam Copeland took particular issue with the idea that a book that wins Canada Reads should be set in Canada. He feels very strongly about that.

What do you think makes a Canadian book?
That’s a tricky question. I mean, there’s such a variety of lived experiences in this country. I don’t think a book has to be set in Canada to be a Canadian book. I think a book that reflects the values that we strive for as a country and the questions that we ask ourselves about being better citizens and doing better by our fellow humans is what makes a book work for me.

For more info and to watch the remaining episodes of Canada Reads, click here.

For more on the other books on the panel:
The Hero's Walk
The Illegal
Bone and Bread and Birdie
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The CBC's Gill Deacon on Minister Without Portfolio

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