McDougall believes that study of Kierans' career is important for two reasons: Kierans not only combined practical business and governmental experience with a coherent economic and philosophical outlook but also maintained a comprehensive and integrated approach to the major issues in Canadian politics national unity, economic independence, federal-provincial relations, regional development, resource policy, and macro-economic policy. McDougall examines Kierans' career from his appointment as president of the Montreal Stock Exchange in 1960 to his service as chairman of the Nova Scotia commission on the Charlottetown Accord during the early 1990s. He focuses on Kierans' relationship with Rene Levesque in the government of Jean Lesage, his fights within the Trudeau cabinet over the reform of the post office and the development of the Anik satellite, and his criticisms of Canadian economic and resource policies in the 1970s. Using Kierans' ministerial and personal records, his publications and speeches, interviews with him and his former associates, and a variety of secondary sources, the author argues that much of what Kierans said and accomplished is unique and remains relevant to the economic and political problems of today. Kierans has demonstrated that powerful political forces often prevent good ideas and determined effort from improving public policy but he has also shown that thoughtful and responsible public service can at least raise the level of public debate.