Photo: Courtesy of the author
How Harry Potter Cast a Spell on Political Analyst Tasha Kheiriddin
The Toronto PR maven loved recent non-fiction books on Indigenous relations and raising teen girls, but her taste in fiction is fantastical / BY Shinan Govani / April 21st, 2023
Never at a loss for words in English or French, Tasha Kheiriddin is one of Canada’s best-known political analysts. Anyone who has followed her on The National, and beyond, knows she does not lean on boilerplate language or petty tribalism, as exemplified by her recent book, The Right Path: How Conservatives can Unite, Inspire and Take Canada Forward.
But did you know that Kheiriddin – a principal with the public relations and crisis management firm Navigator Ltd., a columnist for Postmedia and a lecturer at McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy in Montreal – is a Potter-head? She gave us the spin recently on her reading life.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
Valley of the Birdtail by Douglas Sanderson and Andrew Stobo Sniderman. It’s the true account of two communities in rural Manitoba, one white and one Indigenous, how their paths diverged and how they found a road back to reconciliation. It reveals how government policies such as the pass system and outlawing of cultural traditions damaged First Nations at an economic and human level, but also discusses how Canada can chart a positive path for the future.
What book can’t you wait to dive into?
Untangled by Lisa D’Amour. My neighbour gave me this book to read as her two fully fledged daughters have now left the nest, while mine is about to turn 14. It is a psychological and practical guide to helping teen girls and their families navigate the minefield of adolescence, and also celebrate the emergence of the young women they are to become.
What’s your favourite book of all time?
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I have re-read it multiple times, as a twenty-something student, thirty-something singleton and forty-something mom. Every time it felt fresh and prescient, disturbingly so in recent years. I have read all of Atwood’s books, but find the story, and its narrator, Offred, to be the most meaningful.
What book completely changed your perspective?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read it in high school, and it resonated very deeply with me. Her exploration of the concept of merit and the primacy of the individual over the state struck a chord at a time when I was formulating my own political views. This was in the mid-1980s, when the communist government of the former U.S.S.R. – where Rand was born – posed the most serious global threat to free societies.
If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be?
J. K. Rowling. I am a huge Harry Potter fan and love the fictional wizarding world she created, not just for its creativity but for its multilayered political allegory. I also admire her for standing up for her beliefs, despite severe personal attacks. As a society, we have lost the ability to disagree respectfully. It’s time to end “cancel culture” in literature and in life.