Creative Dissent: A Politician's Struggle for Peace

A political memoir that takes us behind the scenes in describing the tensions of a public life devoted to peace and social justice.

Featuring a compelling introduction by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, Canadas 16th Prime Minister, Creative Dissent: A Politician's Struggle for Peace recounts Douglas Roche's life story. Roche is one of only three Canadians who has served his country as a Member of Parliament, Ambassador and Senator. Over the past 30 years, he has emerged as one of the world's most passionate advocates for nuclear disarmament.

Funny, tearful, exhilarating and exasperating, Roche looks back on his 80 years with admissions of mistakes, moments of triumph and, most of all, a feeling of being blessed by God with a productive life and devoted family. There are lessons here: about politics and the perils awaiting public figures, about bringing spiritual values to the public square, about never succumbing to the cynics. Most of all, the book is about one Canadian's passion for peace.

This is a memoir to treasure. It's for the young, full of anticipation for a world of change. It's for the middle-aged, jaded and dubious that change can happen. It's for the elderly, whose years of experience Roche shares to keep hope alive for change.

"...A vision that helps us all"

"This book is about many things.  It is on one level a very personal story of how a family man was able to reconcile the demands of public and private life.  It is a story about the continuing relevance and power of faith even in our current materialist age.  It informs readers about the practice of the trade of journalism in Canada and its vital role in influencing public policy.  It offers a clear explanation of the changing landscape of Canadian domestic politics and the sometimes positive, sometimes not-so positive roles played by the government bureaucracy.

It also describes quite clearly the tensions and dilemmas that a government representative faces when he or she confronts difficult choices—as for example, when a public policy conflicts with one’s private conscience, or when a country champions the goal of global nuclear disarmament while also backing the enduring value of nuclear deterrence.

But above all, it is a story of a gifted public servant’s determination to advance the interests and ideals of humanity.  His is a vision that helps us all to understand how the progress of the human community toward a more peaceful and just world also benefits the citizens of individual countries."

- United Nations High Representative for Disarmament, H.E. Mr. Sergio Duarte

Embassy Magazine: Review by Jim Creskey

Catholic Register: Review by John Zokovitch

Review by Steve Davis:

To improve and protect the world we live in, what must one do? Where must one go? How long will it take? How can one endure criticism, attacks, ambush and partisanship? These are but some of the questions explored in Creative Dissent: A Politicians Struggle for Peace.

Bells ring out from the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Canada and a young Douglas Roche runs home to hear Jack Benny on the radio. This is one of many memorable scenes that readers are taken through over the course of Douglas Roche’s 80 years in Creative Dissent. Through eloquent and fanciful passages the book tours readers through Roche’s trials and tribulations as a journalist and newspaper editor, elected Member of Parliament, Ambassador, NGO leader, University Professor and Senator. The book elucidates pivotal events in Roche’s life, both personal and professional, to thread together important lessons for the myriad of challenges that currently face the world.

Major themes in the book are: faith, international security, Canadian political issues, personal sacrifice, and perseverance in the face of powerful, entrenched political systems. The influence of Robert Stanfield, Dalton Camp, Joe Clark and Joseph Rotblat are clearly seen through Roche’s life as he struggles against the power of the bureaucracy, the party, the media, other governments and individuals. Regarded by some as a politician solely focused on nuclear weapons, the book chronicles Roche’s decades of dedication on a host of both domestic issues as well as international concerns.

The book frequently explores self-criticism and complaints from constituents, political adversaries and the media. Far from being a self-aggrandizing tale of unbridled success, Creative Dissent gives a deep appreciation for the breadth of personal sacrifice and endurance required to make small but crucial incremental progress in improving both the human condition and the environment we all share. As Roche grapples with questions of who to support in party leadership races, whether to endorse the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or how to apply one’s faith regarding the issue of abortion, we see him cultivate his ability to apply the principles of compassion, integrity and peace.

Roche’s encounters range from figures such as John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II, and numerous heads of state, to average Canadians, to farmers in small impoverished under-developed countries. These anecdotes belie Roche’s dedication and aptitude for reaching a wide audience throughout nearly every corner of the globe. We see how Roche recognized and connected the common threads of humanity with people throughout the world. Lessons learned in Canada, Nigeria, Venezuela, Italy, India, Bangladesh and China are connected, page-by-page, chapter-by-chapter, to condense a lifetime of lessons into a few hundred pages.

Despite the decades of struggle, the scars accumulated from political life, and the seemingly endless and daunting challenges facing the world, Roche’s book brims with hope by showing just how much one person can accomplish.

In short, the book delivers two things: wisdom and optimism. Its message is as timely as it is thorough and persuasive.

April 2009 Victoria, BC

404 pages
ISBN: 978-2-89646-029-8

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