The Big Blue Machine

How Tory Campaign Backrooms Changed Canadian Politics Forever.

The Big Blue Machine

This insider’s account of the legendary Progressive Conservative campaign organization known as “the Big Blue Machine” weaves an engaging saga of personal determination, technical innovations, methods of persuasion, opinion polling, fund-raising, electioneering styles, campaign battles, and Canadian political history. The “machine” was not the Tory party itself, but a tightly-knit and secretive juggernaut that operated for decades within the party, continuously pioneering new methods for organizing campaigns, projecting messages, and winning elections. Its central operators were two advertising gurus, brothers-in-law Dalton Camp and Norman Atkins.

Inspired by Camp and organized by Atkins, this widespread yet closely connected network of organizers and specialists changed how Canadian campaigns were fought. In the process, they transformed Canadian public life itself. Often associated only with Davis-era Ontario, the Camp-Atkins “Big Blue Machine” organization was, in fact, deeper—reaching back to the 1950s, and broader--extending into six provinces and operating national campaigns across Canada.

Patrick Boyer’s behind-the-scenes account reveals how and why the blue machine’s campaign innovations (most imported from the U.S.) transformed Canadian politics forever. Boyer’s direct experience in these changes, and hundreds of interviews with key players from Tory backrooms, enrich his account of the formidable PC campaign organization which held sway for more than four decades. This book confirms why the “Big Blue Machine” is a Canadian political legend.


This is the book that has been missing from the annals of Canadian political history — a thorough, fascinating, and well-written story of how campaigning and political advertising were changed forever by the legendary Big Blue Machine.” -- Susan Delacourt, author of Shopping For Votes: How Canadian Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them

Patrick Boyer’s new book The Big Blue Machine is a must-read for any candidate or campaign worker planning to get involved in the Conservative leadership.” -- Toronto Sun


Publisher: Dundurn, 2014
Political campaigns, Canadian electoral history, communications in politics
$35, Canada and U.S.A.
Hardcover, 528 pages, 6 x 9 inches
82 photographs, index, bibliography


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