Take the Torch is a compelling memoir from one of BC’s most widely accomplished and animated politicians, Ian Waddell, QC. Waddell takes us on a journey through his life and career as a storefront lawyer, an NDP Member of Parliament, a Minister of Culture, a writer, a teacher, a film producer and more—delivering a smart, humorous, endearing and impossible-to-forget exploration of public life.
Following up Donna Macronald’s Surviving City Hall, Take the Torch is Nightwood’s second publication in a campaign to promote participation in civic affairs and community activism to younger generations. Waddell endeavours “to pass on some of the lessons I learned about setting goals for social change and the methods to use to get there … debating, protesting, and marching to ‘biting dogs’ at press conferences (following the old adage ‘dog bites man is not a story; man bites dog is a headline’), writing op-ed pieces for newspapers, getting elected, taking on prime ministers, dictators and kings, grabbing maces, lobbying diplomats in the lobby of the United Nations, and bucking your own party.” Waddell got his start through his involvement as a young lawyer, from an immigrant family, in both the first consumer class-action lawsuit in Canada and the Berger Inquiry into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline.
I have always had a revolutionary idea about law: that it is about justice and that it can be used to make change in society. That’s why I started as a criminal lawyer, and why I went on to be a storefront lawyer, assistant to Judge Berger, and then a member of both the federal Parliament and the BC legislative assembly. What I love about Canada is that we are still a young country and still a place where you can make change happen. In this book I describe some of those changes—many of them are big changes, historic events for our country and our people; others are tiny incidents that helped only one person or a small group, but they’re still important. Often I played a minor role, but my part was big enough to give me an inside look at how change happens.
“Ian Waddell was a parliamentary original. Always prepared, always effective, always thoughtful and always acting in Canada’s national interest.”
– Brian Mulroney, former prime minister of Canada.
“The best damn Liberal in the NDP. Always a fighter for the little guy and he was nice to his mother too!”
– Sheila Copps, former MP and cabinet minister
"Readers are in for a treat as Ian Waddell pulls back the curtain on some of Canada's biggest political and parliamentary events. What shines through is a consistent commitment to justice, particularly through the Berger Inquiry and the evolution of legally-recognized indigenous rights."
-Elizabeth May - Leader Green Party of Canada