Putting ‘share’ back into the sharing economy: the social solidarity economy

Recently the Uber ride app was activated in Windsor immediately threatening the livelihoods of some 300 unionized cab drivers in the city. Over the New Year holiday many complaints were heard in Windsor over the cost of rides, and this seems to have prompted the mayor to talk about regulating Uber.

Uber is backed by venture capitalists and worth tens of billions of dollars. As with typical capitalist enterprises it’s only a small group of shareholders who profit while the rest of us struggle to make a living amongst all the disruption.

Going deeper, in November-December on The ShakeUp, I attempted to examine the roots of the Uber phenomenon and its claim to be an element of  the sharing economy. Many see app platforms as a way to disrupt traditional systems (like cab rides and hotels) that need to give way to new forms of organizing work. However, what is being disrupted by the likes of Uber is the ability of workers to make a living wage. A wild west sort of world is being created as this article points out alleging sabotage tactics by Uber against a rival. It seems that the Uber-ization of app technology will  turn us all into contingent contract workers driving everybody to a wage so low no one could make a living in an unregulated maze of anything goes. It doesn’t have to be this way.

A true sharing economy  could be one based on principles of mutual aid and cooperativism. A sharing economy would also be based locally while also connected to the broader world. Instead of globalization, it could be internationalism where national and local economies are allowed to flourish. Instead, globalization is resulting in a new colonialism where local economies must serve a global market with the cheapest goods and services possible. While wages have risen in supplier countries, workers still struggle for the right to organize for better wages and working conditions. This was always the fallacy of free trade and globalization: some pockets of workers have better lives, but they can only make a living making cheap goods for consumption in the west.

In a series of conversations below, I attempted to illustrate how workers and governments could use the same app technology as the venture capitalists to form a true sharing economy, through what Trebor Scholz has termed “Platform Cooperativism”(described below) in order to build a new economy and society:

Episode 1 aired on The ShakeUp November 6, 2015:

Sharing is a very human thing to do and the working class and people in poverty and/or marginalized communities have always found sharing and cooperativism crucial for meeting needs and building community. Uber is private company worth, it is said, $18 billion and backed by venture capital. It is subject to the cool factor where urban dwellers have more choice and ease in finding transportation that is supposed to be less expensive and hassle-free than a cab ride. In the crossfire are cab drivers who make a living wage and feel under direct threat of losing their livelihoods. In Windsor Uber could be a disaster for 320 cabbies recently in the news voicing their concerns over the mayor’s exuberant support of Uber. So, where is the sharing – who gets to take part in the sharing, and if these enterprises are backed by millionaire venture capitalists where does sharing come in at all? How is Uber any different from any other corporate entity? Tawanna Dillahunt is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and co-author of “The Promise of the Sharing Economy among Disadvantaged Communities” that explored how low income and marginalized people encounter the sharing economy. She is also the principal investigator of The Social Innovation Group that seeks to “design, build and enhance innovative technologies to solve real-world problems.” The paper investigated the “perception and feasibility of finding temporary employment and sharing spare resources using sharing-economy applications in a city [like Windsor] suffering economic decline.”


Episode 2: also aired November 6, 2015

Tom Slee is a Waterloo based writer on technology and society. Recently his writing has focused on profit, openness, and sharing in the digital world. He wrote “No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart” and his most recent book is “What’s Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy”


Episode 3 aired on The ShakeUp November 13, 2015:

“Eli Feghali is the Director of Communications and Online Organizing for the New Economy Coalition. He is a Lebanese-American who has spent the majority of his professional life working as a communications specialist and community organizer. He has particular expertise in strategic communications, press relations, new media strategy, and web design.”

“Michael Toye became Executive Director of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) in August of 2008, bringing a deep background in community economic development (CED) to the Director’s chair. Upon earning his Master of Social Work at McGill, Michael helped set up two worker co-operatives that provide research, consulting and training services related to CED and the social economy.”
In the following segement I conversed with Toye and Feghali on the solidarity economy:


Episode 4: Platform Cooperativism. (Aired on The ShakeUp Dec, 4 2015)

Trebor Scholz:

“It’s a call to workers, designers, and developers. It’s up to you: the blue pill or, well, you know the Matrix story — the red.

There has been backlash against unethical labor practices in the “collaborative sharing economy” because of an utter lack of concern for the workers. Take, for example, Uber’s app, with all its geo-location and ride ordering capabilities. Corporate owners and shareholders do not have to be the main benefactors of such platform-based labor brokerage. How to dodge Uber and put a worker-owned cooperative or unionized labor pool in their place?

Imagine, just for one moment, that the algorithmic heart of the citadels of anti-unionism could be cloned and brought back to life under a different ownership model, with fair working conditions, as a humane alternative to the free market model.”

Trebor Scholz is Associate Professor of Culture & Media Studies at the New School New York City and a convenor of the recent conference on Platform Cooperativism. I spoke with him on the concept of Platform Cooperativism:


On November 13-14 in New York City a “coming out part for the Internet: was held in the form of a conference on Platform Cooperativism:

Click on image for video

Click on image for video



And coming this spring to Detroit: North American Social Solidarity Economy Forum  Register HERE

Briefly: “RIPESS-NA (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy-N. America) initiated the process of organizing this forum. RIPESS-NA members include these national networks: the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (SEN), the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNET) and the Chantier de l’économie Sociale in Quebec.”

Further Reading:

Trebor Scholz, “Platform Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy”
• Nathan Schneider, “Owning Is the New Sharing,” Shareable (December 21, 2014)
• Janelle Orsi, Frank Pasquale, Nathan Schneider, Pia Mancini, Trebor Scholz, “5 Ways to Take Back Tech,” The Nation (May 27, 2015)
• Nathan Schneider, “Owning What We Share,” Pacific Standard (September 1, 2015)


Nov. 4 2015: Uber comes to town

By Paul Chislett:

Although not in Windsor – yet, the Uber ride sharing company has caused comment in the local media and online. Driving speculation about Uber in Windsor is former Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s private member’s bill which is meant to open the regulatory door for Uber and other app based enterprises in Ontario. Windsor Mayor Dilkens, in perhaps a supporting role for his provincial ‘brother in arms’, was quoted in local media recently saying he thinks Uber is coming “… whether we want it or not”, and he added “ I see a net benefit to the community myself”. In the same media report, John Toth, vice-president of Unifor Local 195 representing local cab drivers, revealed that “[d]rivers have been worried to the point of anger for years and years over the threat of Uber coming in”. Toth added that 320 workers rely on cab driving to make a living wage.

Uber image

In the past neither Mayor Dilkens, nor especially, Mr Hudak have displayed sympathy for unionized working people and one could be forgiven for believing there is an ideological underpinning for the move to create what would arguably be a sea of independent contractors all competing with each other to the point no one could earn a living wage. In a de-industrializing city like Windsor one would expect careful consideration before causing any more living wage jobs disappear through careless de-regulation. The issue of a sharing economy – which ride sharing is a part of – is a timely one to discuss as politicians get on the app bandwagon.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research made this reasonable assertion: “It is appropriate for taxis to be subject to safety and insurance requirements. The ones in place now may well be excessive, but it can’t make sense to have a traditional taxi sector bound by these rules and then a group of upstarts to which no rules apply.” Mayor Dilkens says Uber “employs people too, [that] Uber drivers are employees [who] work and they make money, they pay taxes.” His assumption is that Uber work will have no impact on existing workers who get paid a living wage, pay fees related to their work and taxes as well. What are we to make, then, of new technologies and decent work at a living wage? What is the sharing economy and what alternatives are there to a Wild West scenario of independent contractors jostling to make a living?

U.S. based academic Juliet Schor leads a six-year project on the sharing economy for the MacArthur Foundation’s Connected Learning Research Network. In an October 2014 paper, “Debating the Sharing Economy” she explores the realities of the sharing economy writing that “…new technologies of peer-to-peer economic activity are potentially powerful tools for building a social movement centered on genuine practices of sharing and cooperation in the production and consumption of goods and services. But achieving that potential will require democratizing the ownership and governance of the platforms.”

Schor describes a 2014 conference called to investigate the sharing economy and offers that the “…term covers a sprawling range of digital platforms and offline activities, from financially successful companies like Airbnb, a peer-to-peer lodging service, to smaller initiatives such as repair collectives and tool libraries.” The idea of the sharing economy has many boosters but many at the conference questioned the “…popular claim that the sharing economy is fairer, lower-carbon, and more transparent, participatory, and socially-connected…”. Schor writes that “[c]oming up with a solid definition of the sharing economy that reflects common usage is nearly impossible: … Airbnb is practically synonymous with the sharing economy, but traditional bed and breakfasts are left out. Lyft, a ride service company, claims to be in, but Uber, another ride service company, does not.” For example, Uber is said to be worth $18 billion or more, is backed by venture capital, and run by another wunderkind CEO Travis Kalanick. Schor quotes lawyer Janelle Orsi asking, “[h]ow are we going to harness the sharing economy to spread the wealth?” The question worrying Schor and others is if the sharing economy will “…evolve in line with its stated progressive, green, and utopian goals, or will it devolve into business as usual?” Business as usual would be for profit corporations moving in to claim the sharing economy territory.

Schor explores why people want to participate in the sharing economy and finds that “[s]ome participants are drawn by the trendiness or novelty of the platforms[,]” … and warns that the “…novelty about which many participants … talk can be an expression of classism and racism…”. Schor explains that “…sharing remain[s] more common in working-class, poor, and minority communities. The discourse of novelty employs a false universalism that can be alienating to people who have maintained non-digital sharing practices in their daily lives.” Here I am thinking of the cab drivers who already share their lives with each other through work and the customers they serve every day. As well, I am thinking of the very stark divide in Windsor between Walkerville and South Windsor, and the Glengarry neighbourhood including the entire swath of the city from Gladstone to Sandwich.

The latter are the parts of the city where newcomers to Canada settle and are also home to working class people stuck in the lower end of the social-economic scale. In other words, for well off households the Uber experience is cool and people can believe they are sharing with everyone, yet a great chunk of the population remains invisible and out of the digital sharing loop. Yet, obviously, sharing isn’t new for working class people and I am reminded of my grandparents who used their home as a boarding house during the Great Depression. The question is does the sharing economy means inclusion and a sense of ‘we’re all in this together’, or is it reproducing inequality and exclusion?

At this point it’s useful to look at the work of two other researchers, Tawanna R. Dillahunt and Amelia R. Malone who wrote “The Promise of the Sharing Economy among Disadvantaged Communities”. The authors state that

[b]ecause of the economic crisis, unemployment rates have risen; the purchasing power of consumers has declined; and bank loans have become more difficult to obtain. Such factors have resulted in individuals looking to both earn and save money. Sharing is a common method in which individuals, particularly among low-income groups, have saved money. For example, close-knit, low-income individuals often share expenses and transportation. They also provide social and emotional support and barter services such as childcare.

The concern for Windsor is summed up in this quote cited by Dillahunt and Malone: “How can we take these sharing mechanisms and torque or re-purpose them from the point of view of people for whom sharing is not a cool, optional, sexy, ‘I-don’t-want-to-be-burdened’ thing, but for people for whom it’s an absolute necessity because they don’t have the resources for traditional ownership?” That is a crucial question for Windsor and the answer will take real leadership far beyond the ‘Uber is coming and I’ll change regulations to make it easier for living wage jobs to disappear’ kind so far offered. It really is a question of who needs the access to new technologies the most, and are we enhancing what we already have in terms of living wage jobs while we collectively figure out how to transition to new ways of working.

Getting back to Schor’s paper, there are alternatives to the destructive aspects of the sharing economy. That alternative must be led by people organizing to create a movement which can, according to Schor

…make a critical difference in realizing the potential of the sharing model” in that that “…organizations that are part of the solidarity sector, such as unions, churches, civil society groups, and cooperatives, could create platforms for their members. They could build alternatives to the for-profits, particularly if the software to operate these exchanges is not too expensive. These platforms could be user-governed and/or owned.

She cites a taxi cooperative in Portland Oregon that will use ride sharing technology that will evolve the business into a driver-owned version of ride sharing. Schor argues that “…sharing entities [must] become part of a larger movement that seeks to redistribute wealth and foster participation, [as well as] ecological protection, and social connection.” It’s a matter of putting ‘share’ in the sharing economy. Concluding, Schor offers this:

The emergence of [Peer 2 Peer] (P2P) communities that share goods, space, and labor services can be the foundation of a new household model in which people are less dependent on employers and more able to diversify their access to income, goods, and services. But the early stage goodwill from the big platforms will dissipate as they become incorporated into the business-as-usual economy. We are at a critical juncture in which users’ organizing for fair treatment, demands for eco-accountability, and attention to whether human connections are strengthened through these technologies can make a critical difference in realizing the potential of the sharing model.

Uber is just the tip of the iceberg. What we’re really talking about is the wholesale change in the very nature of work: increasingly robotized manufacturing work, autonomous cars and trucks, and the increase in low wage work, for example. There is the potential for hundreds of millions of people looking for work of all sorts around the world and turning to app based opportunities. In the de-industrializing City of Windsor clinging to history that is rapidly evolving, with the fourth most diverse population in Canada completely unrepresented in local government, and with the highest unemployment rate in the country we are in desperate need of real leadership.

We need to be looking at a basic annual income so people can do more than just survive in these changing times. Workers, unions, churches and civil society groups need to organize together for the creation of a climate of cooperativism and mutual aid that breaks down barriers in this economically, and yes, ethnically divided city. And while we are doing this, we need to preserve what living wage jobs there are, as well as enhancing existing social assistance programs, including shelters and affordable housing, so people don’t fall further behind.

What Mayor Dilkens offers is a cold shoulder to the very concept of a sharing or solidarity economy. Such a thing is within reach, but we cannot expect it to come from above.

As an addition from further research there is this:

Take, for example, Uber’s app, with all its geolocation and ride ordering capabilities. Why do its owners and investors have to be the main benefactors of such platform-based labor brokerage? Developers, in collaboration with local, worker-owner cooperatives could design such a self-contained program for mobile phones. Despite its meteoric rise, $300 million in VC-backing (and its $18 billion evaluation bubble), as well as massive international reach, there is nothing inevitable about Uber’s long-term success. There’s no magic when it comes to developing such a piece of software; it’s not rocket science. Of course, technology is only one part of the equation and instead of letting techno-determinism run its course, I’d rather point to the long history of worker-owned cooperatives, EP Thompson and Robert Owen.

From: “Platform Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy” by Trebor Scholz

If you are interested in being part of a discussion group on the sharing economy in Windsor please contact the author at paul.chislett@gmail.com or by phone at 519 252 1212.

Finding a way in a globalized world: Paul Chislett

The following post is a slightly revised version of a talk I gave at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit on December 28. I’m a member of the congregation and a Board Trustee. Edits are in brackets: [  ] Comments, critiques, questions?


I want to start first by saying I know this congregation doesn’t take things at face value and there is a whole lot of wisdom and truth seeking here – so I hope I to bring something, if not new, to your attention then perhaps something familiar but from a different angle. As I see it, I’m speaking on the basis of the [UU] 4th principle: A Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning. Rev. Paige Getty of the UU Congregation of Columbia, Maryland wrote in part as a reflection on the 4th principle that “As a faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism makes sacred the right and responsibility to engage in this free and responsible quest as an act of religious devotion.” So thank you for the opportunity to address you and allow me to engage in a public quest of some sort of truth behind finding our way in a globalized world….

Click image for more on Seven UU principles

Click image for more on Seven UU principles

I must also say that what I talk about is influenced by my privileged position as a – I want to say middle aged white male – but that would mean I’m living till 116 – so as a, perhaps, “mature” white male with life experiences devoid of racial profiling, gender violence, sexual discrimination and so on. I cannot know first-hand the experiences of African-Americans not only because of my position as a white male but also as a Canadian – and here I do NOT imply some sort of moral superiority; rather, I come from a different history with our own forms of racism – and of course I do NOT presume to speak on behalf of the entire country! I do feel that I have been influenced and inspired in a positive way by the struggles for justice that are ongoing by minorities in this country and my own. I see the world from the – I hope – enlightened white male vantage point as I strive to understand as best I can the reality of those who don’t look like me – so let me start there; and I think it’s important and necessary to signify that starting point.

It’s also increasingly customary in Canada in progressive circles to recognize that a speaker is on traditional territories of First Nations peoples and I recognize that now as well. [Please visit this link for a clarification on terminology regarding First Nations]

I am not credentialed in the formal sense to talk about globalization and internationalism. I speak from my own experience as a somewhat observant formerly waged worker, and now as an unwaged social activist/advocate with the Windsor Workers’ Education Centre where we see non-union workers in low wage precarious work; many of whom are established immigrants and newcomers, and of those they are primarily women. Increasingly we are, at the workers’ centre, drawn into working with migrant and temporary foreign workers and exposed to the fact of their second class citizenship. Probably exposure to such people causes me to consider borders and globalization as much as crossing the border myself on Sundays. Workers cannot sustain themselves in their own countries because those economies are linked to global market needs not domestic ones- and here I’m thinking of food sovereignty as a good example where more and more farmland – especially in Africa but also elsewhere – is being grabbed up by corporations, and also especially by China – a country short on both fresh water and arable land. The farmland is used to grow food for consumption in China, [for example] while creating low wage work on industrial farms.

Click image for more info on book

Click image for more info on book

In Canada there is a growing concern over internal migrant workers, although they probably wouldn’t describe themselves that way as they are middle class highly skilled workers traveling from Windsor and the east coast to work in the Tar Sands. You see manufacturing has collapsed in southern and south-west Ontario – I see figures published of job losses in the 100’s of thousands – manufacturing jobs lost since free trade leaving the country hugely dependent on non-renewable resources i.e. the environmental disaster that is the Tar Sands. No work at home so they fly out west – internal migrant workers and it’s slipping up on us so quietly because of policies that make it so at the highest levels of government and corporate power – policies that strengthen globalism at the expense of local communities. So I am “credentialed” out of what I have observed as a privileged waged worker and what I have been exposed to as a privileged recipient of a decent pension with benefits allowing me to do unwaged advocacy work. I read a ton of stuff online everyday as well as subscriptions to the Monthly Review – a socialist publication for over 50 years based in New York, the New York Review of Books, Canadian Dimension, The Monitor that is a publication of the excellent Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. On the campus/community radio program I host I also try to examine with interviews social justice and environmental issues

Click image for more on CD

Click image for more on CD

From a political point of view it’s a little harder for me to clearly describe where I am coming from – there are a lot of anti’s in my vocabulary: anti-capitalist, anti-war, anti-poverty…to the point today that it’s really crucial – for me and others – to also describe what I am FOR and what I want to do to get to someplace else more just socially, economically and politically. My political thinking is socialist, working class, and collectivist – seeking a society based on mutual aid and cooperativism. Also, increasingly, and I’m no expert, but my thinking too is influenced by the First Nations experiences in Canada especially around the Idle No More movement which began with the implementation 2 years ago or so of a series of omnibus bills – I’m not sure if you have experience here of this – bills provincial and federal governments craft that encompass unrelated legislation and run for hundreds of pages forcing the opposition and the media to take quite some time to figure out the ramifications, so news trickles out for days about the effects of the bills. In this case with Idle No More, environmental protections for rivers, lakes, and streams were removed in what was a budget bill I believe, and clearly the federal government was trying to make an end run around its constitutional requirement to consult with First Nations [FN] before enacting legislation that would affect them. Just on Wednesday a court ruled the government breached its responsibilities, but of course the legislation stands. It is quite likely that our version of Ferguson will involve Indigenous peoples and their allies in the struggle against pipelines and other issues on the relationship between First Nations and the federal government.

Click image for more on INM

Click image for more on INM

So…: finding a place in a globalized world. I’m still fairly new to Windsor/Detroit and it’s a big deal – that is to say not routine – to cross a border as regularly as I do; and here I am reminded of my white privilege since crossing is anything but routine for people of colour and/or are newcomers to the US or Canada. So I think of borders in general that delineate nations and how borders have been drawn by victors of wars and by colonial powers in Africa, North America and elsewhere – those borders are not voted on – they’re drawn by someone in power and the rest of us learn to live with them! They just are…

Globalization was sold as the solution to international rivalries that led to such horrors of the wars in the 20th century. A globalized economy was supposed to lift all our boats: jobs in the global south, the knowledge economy for the so called developed nations, and an end to history with ideology fading into the mists history. Globalization makes borders disappear – for Capital and the super wealthy, but they sure exist for ordinary people. The market – the unseen hand of the market – would ensure there was something for everyone and the human race would be better off. Except…except…rivalries are clearly escalating, why was there 9/11 in a globalized world economy? What happened to the knowledge economy? Where are the jobs? Why are tuition fees through the roof? Education was the solution right?

Herman E. Daly, Emeritus Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Public Policy wrote in 1999 in an article comparing globalization vs. internationalization that “Globalization … is frequently confused with internationalization, but is in fact something totally different. Internationalization refers to the increasing importance of international trade, international relations, treaties, alliances, etc. Inter-national, of course, means between or among nations. Globalization refers to global economic integration of many formerly national economies into one global economy, mainly by free trade and free capital mobility, but also by easy or uncontrolled migration. It is the effective erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes.” He continues: “… the conventional wisdom seems to be that if free trade in goods is beneficial, then free trade in capital must be even more beneficial! In any event, it no longer makes sense to think of national teams of labor and capital in the globalized economy. Instead, we have global capitalists competing with each other for both laborers and natural resources, as well as markets, in all countries.” He wrote this 15 years ago but critics of globalization and the free trade agreements that make it happen were sidelined. I’m going to quote at length here his conclusions of 15 years ago because we can now see how bang on he was:

For all the sins historically committed by the nation, it is still our basic locus of community and unit of policy. The nation, along with international federations of nations, must not be sacrificed to the unexamined ideal of “globalization” which, when examined, turns out to be unfettered individualism for corporations on a global scale. Paradoxically, globalization even undercuts our ability to deal with irreducibly global problems such as climate change, because nations with porous borders are not able to carry out any effective national economic policies, including the ones that they agreed to in global environmental treaties. We must learn to distinguish internationalism from globalism and abandon the latter in favor of the former.
Globalization prolongs the industrial country’s illusion of unlimited sources and sinks, and postpones the shift from “empty-world” economics to “full-world” economics that all nations must eventually make. The worsening condition of labor is met by cries for still more growth based on cheaper resources, and paradoxically, cheaper labor as well, in order to be competitive in global markets.
Free traders say we should become less self-sufficient and more globally integrated as part of the overriding quest to consume ever more. This increased interdependence, they believe, will also help avoid war. Free trade, specialization, and global integration, mean that nations are no longer free not to trade. Yet freedom not to trade is surely necessary if trade is to remain mutually beneficial. War, as well as corporate police action, is more likely to be avoided if nations learn both to consume less and to become more self-sufficient.

Herman E Daly, 1999…..

He is best known for his books and research on steady-state economics, referred to often as slow growth and we’ll hear that term a lot around debates on global warming where the “developed” countries need to curtail emissions by slowing our economies and live within limits, while the rest of the world “catches up” in terms of increasing their standard of living. As we know, that argument is ongoing, and is what is likely at the heart of the increasing conflict in the world.

Most worryingly – well, in the top 10 of worries certainly – is that globalization has made primary the “economy” in the form of The Market where society is best shaped by the ‘rational’ economic decisions of equally informed consumers. This is absurd. No one has all the knowledge they need to make these rational decisions and if we are all acting as individuals in pursuit of our economic ends how can we actually create a better society? Margaret Thatcher gave the answer to that one with her famous wonky remark that there is no such thing as society! Such a notion ignores the realities of racism, class, discrimination and so on that no market economy is designed to change. Globalization has been the biggest con job in human history! It’s a political neoliberal ideology disguised as economic policy. What’s happened is that in general – and here let me stick to Canada, people are de-politicized. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say ‘oh, you’re just playing politics’ or you’re politicizing an issue’ if poverty, racism, discrimination and so on are brought up. But it’s ALL political! This is the heart of the con game: make economic policy, efficiency, and austerity the primary feature of public life while at the same time denouncing any resistance as simply playing politics. I think the essence of this in the U.S. is the Tea Party, that invention of the super wealthy, a grassroots guerrilla army that seeks to blunt any opposition to the dominant ideology and we have our own version in Canada as well. The de-politicization of society has prevented too many people from being able to analyze what has happened and the media plays a huge role in this. The media has always provided distractions for the times, but the rise of right wing commentators who cry free speech as they promote hate and inequality is utter propaganda and inflames people and polarizes issues preventing real organizing around the economy, work, and growing inequality.

It’s pretty hard to think ourselves out of the political corner we are in. I believe this is why some are turning to violence in our countries: because there is anger at the joblessness, the violence deployed by the state, the obvious lies and dis-ingenuousness of leaders, the utter unfairness! A good example: torture is now ‘enhanced interrogation’. Canada is not immune here – our soldiers handed over captured Afghans during our time there to certain torture and the government covered it up. The Prime Minister – a committed neoliberal market politician – dissolved Parliament in 2009 to avoid having his minority government fall over the allegations of complicity in torture – a still unresolved stain. So there is anger – and righteous anger – if people aren’t angry today they are not paying attention – but where to channel it? While there is certainly organizing going on in Canada we were reminded that marginalized people who seem to have no way of expressing themselves in forums to discuss political and economic issues become so-called lone wolf gunmen and the perfect unwitting tool of the state which is only too happy to impose surveillance and more police because the state has been co-opted by neo-liberal market ideology – the state has been transformed into an agent of corporations and mega millionaires; it does not serve the needs of working people. Our populations are adrift in a utopian nightmare created by cliques of market ideologues who play politics all the time – but the dirtiest kind where power is gained and held at all costs because they have no more ideas, no more markets in a closed planetary loop. They’re done: global warming, the destruction of land air and water and the saturation of markets spell doom for the globalization experiment, while we are all heavily invested in it whether we like it or not.

And here’s the thing – globalization was supposed to end the isolation of traditional societies where women are second class citizens without rights and economies cannot provide for the people and dictatorships abound siphoning off wealth that should be redistributed to the people in the form of services. And here I must be blunt – U.S. governments with the backing of Canadian governments have backed ugly dictator after ugly dictator in an effort to combat nationalists in the Middle East and elsewhere – nationalists, usually socialists who could have secured their own national economies and harnessed them for the service of the people. The globalized world has been led by the U.S. and its western allies. Ostensibly, yes, it is desirous to have countries respect the rights of women, to see an end dictatorships – it’s just that it’s all too selective. Some dictatorships have to go but others fit into the global scheme of things. I’m angry my government counts as its best friends Saudia Arabia, Egypt, and Zionists in Israel who illegally occupy Palestinian lands and so on, but I’m not going to go out and shoot up Parliament…Globalization has been a disaster and a fleet of a million drones ain’t gonna fix things… Globalization has caused Canada to focus on the Tar Sands, attack Indigenous rights and treaties, and made enemies out of political opponents – Stephen Harper has an enemies list – sound familiar? As prime minister he is as autocratic as they come and committed to neoliberal ideology which is at the core of the global economy – nothing is more important to him and his policies show it. B.C. author Donald Gutstein has written the book “Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his Think Tank Colleagues have Transformed Canada” and he wrote that Harper is “gradually moving the country from one that’s based on democracy to one that’s based on the market, which means that the decisions are not made by our duly elected representatives through the laws that they pass and the regulations that they enact,” and he mentions a couple of examples including the temporary foreign workers program where it is actually employers who decide on who comes into the country to work in a market-based society. This is occurring without the knowledge of most Canadians, yet it is a fundamental shift in how government is supposed to work. Market forces are changing the very nature of the country to a closed, racist autocracy.

Click image for more on this book

Click image for more on this book

One thing I love about Canada is that we set out in the post war years to be a nation among nations, and Canada was front and centre with the formation of the UN and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Canada was committed to internationalism and to the idea of government redistributing wealth in the form of a universal health care plan and a system of federal payments to the provinces to run health care and other services – there was/is a power sharing agreement between the federal government and the provinces, and with nationalist Quebec in the mix, a recognition of two founding nations and languages. Someday, if the neoliberal market economy can be sent to the dustbin of history, full recognition of Indigenous rights will come about and even [perhaps] a third level of government which would give equality to First Nations.

Which brings me to interesting writing by John Ralston Saul on Canada and First Nations. In “A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada” Saul “… argues that Canada is a Métis nation [mixed ancestry of First Nations and Europeans], heavily influenced and shaped by aboriginal ideas: egalitarianism, a proper balance between individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence are all aboriginal values that Canada absorbed.” He adds that “Canada has an increasingly ineffective elite, a colonial non-intellectual business elite that doesn’t believe in Canada.”

Click image for a contarian view of A Fair Country

Click image for a contarian view of A Fair Country


Saul has just written “The Comeback” a short book in which he argues that all Canadians are treaty people not just First nations people, and “When  it comes to Aboriginal peoples, sympathy from outsiders is the new form of racism. It allows many of us to feel good about discounting their importance and the richness of their civilizations. Sympathy is a way to deny our shared reality. Our shared responsibility. Sympathy obscures the central importance of rights.”

So I bring up First Nations because the globalized neoliberal world is closing in on any hope of establishing Canada as not only a nation among nations but as a nation composed of nations. Already China owns mines in B.C. and has a huge stake in the Tar Sands industry. It’s not hard to see that foreign corporate ownership in a de-politicized, rights denying, neoliberal globalized economy will eventually erode the nation to nation relationship that should be developed with First Nations in order to strengthen the national character of Canada. I will step out on a limb and say most Canadians are not aware of this and may even welcome foreign investment because they buy into globalization. I also bring up First Nations because of what Saul has written about our national character that has been shaped more than we know or our children taught, by aboriginal values that Canada absorbed: egalitarianism, a proper balance between individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence. This is the kind of nationalism I want to live by and the kind of Canada that could be an example in a fractious world.
Egalitarianism, a proper balance between individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence are values that are the antithesis of the neoliberal global economy.

Click image for more on this book

Click image for more on this book

So let me take stock at this point: the neoliberal global economy is raping the earth, exploiting workers, leading to more conflict, creating an ever widening gap between rich and poor by destroying the middle class; and the state that should be serving the needs of citizens is now in the service of the global economy, reserving for itself powers of surveillance, policing an increasingly unruly and angry populace, and deploying military force against a panoply of shifting enemies who won’t submit to the approved global script: the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS and so on. Our leaders are technocrats and increasingly defensive and belligerent, and if that isn’t bad enough – they’re out of ideas. We teeter on one hell of a precipice…

A turn to an internationalism I have attempted to describe seems unlikely any time soon, and frankly I believe there will be a collapse and that things will get worse before they get better. Detroit however has already seen that future globalization has wrought and is in the thick of the struggle between neoliberal development: and citizen led revival: whose city is it indeed. Most Windsorites – out on a limb here again – don’t see the similarities yet with Detroit because we still have enough of a vestige of government that redistributes wealth. However another 4-5 years of Stephen Harper (we have a federal election next year) and our country will be toast – I really believe that. The regions won’t hold with a weakened federal government.

So as I contemplate these things from my white male, working class, socialist perspective I find myself on common ground with the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership here in Detroit where they say ‘we are the leaders we are looking for’. I find myself pulled toward the New Work New Culture movement which is the life work of Frithjof Bergmann in Ann Arbor. From his website: “New Work, New Culture is a philosophical, political, and informational response to our current, dysfunctional job system. With increasing automation, the number of jobs decreases. Instead of relying on economic growth to churn out more jobs, New Work proposes that we instead reconsider the central role that jobs play in our culture, and pursue practices that will free us.”

Generally I avoid the word ‘job’ and use instead ‘meaningful work’ which I thinks speaks to Bergmann’s idea that the ‘job’ system is not the answer but work producing what a community needs is what’s at hand. At a conference here in Detroit in October the themes of NWNC were explored with people from across North America – mostly young people to explore the uses of technology, urban agriculture, permaculture, time sharing and so on in meeting the needs of people: community production using digital fabricators is now possible to meet many of our material needs but the challenge is how to organize ourselves around new thinking of work outside the corporate driven profit model.

Click image for more on Incite Focus Fab Lab

Click image for more on Incite Focus Fab Lab

A herculean task and one not made easier by the status quo: where schools replicate the existing hierarchical social order, and the power of those with money control the agenda using the propaganda model of the corporate media (well documented by Noam Chomsky and Edward S Herman). It’s very intriguing stuff and while not the answer to all problems NWNC is certainly part of the solution. Even if all the jobs exported to China and elsewhere came back there would not be enough of them because of automation. And speaking of privilege as I have, the NWNC conference was as diverse a gathering as it could be and questions of access to technology were important points since the very communities and persons marginalized by the mainstream economy will need access to the technology that can transform their lives. Someone like me can assume I’ll be able to use digital fabricators, for example, but what of young African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, women, First Nations, or people I know on social assistance where having a cheap cell phone on a cheap plan is barely achievable? Those in complex times who’ve not been included in discussions of race, poverty, privilege and so on need access to the dialogue on NWNC.

On our side of the river there are numerous farmers in the county who are growing and selling locally, people investigating micro-financing and those including myself trying to keep a local lefty bookstore and community newspaper going by forming a non-profit social enterprise or worker co-op with some kind of cafe or shop that could make enough to sustain the paper and bookstore. From there we hope to attract young people who do want to ‘get political’ and maintain an active government while creating our own version of NWNC.

Points to ponder in closing

• Globalization and the destruction of local economies we never owned in the first place: we work in a global economy but live locally: June of last year in Northern Ontario Business: “Rayon maker Aditya Birla of India signed a three-year partnership deal with Pays Plat First Nation [on Lake Superior ]to harvest wood from the Kenogami Forest to the company’s Terrace Bay mill. The company is in the process of converting the mill on the north shore of Lake Superior into a dissolving pulp operation used in textile manufacturing. The company plans to employ 350 once the conversion is complete in 2016. Pays Plat is one of a number of suppliers selected to feed the mill’s daily fibre needs of 2,000 tonnes. Birla purchased the mothballed pulp mill in June 2012.” I imagine that pulp sailing right by us in the unemployment capital of North America: that’s global capitalism for you:
• meaningful work, family, culture, connectedness to nature & each other = community: Windsor motto: “the river and the land sustain us” and Detroit’s: “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes” seem to call us to action in resistance and building something new.

Click image for more on theis First Nation community

Click image for more on this First Nation community

• Large scale manufacturing is disappearing in Windsor/Detroit: In a major report [on Dec 27] the Windsor Star newspaper posted that “Over the past ten years, more than 30,000 people between the ages of 15 and 29 have left Windsor and Essex County. They are migrating out of a region where household incomes have been dropping in sync with the shrinking number of good paying jobs in the dominant auto industry. The result: the number of 25 to 44-year-olds in Windsor’s workforce declined by more than 6,000 from 2007 to 2012.” The thing about this article is that it is devoid of any analysis of WHY people have to fly out west to get work, nor would the paper dare to call these workers internal migrant workers, but that’s what they are [in a globalized economy that wrecks local communities.]
• The numbers are even more staggering in Detroit of people who have migrated out. Windsor may not look like the worst areas of Detroit but take a look at Indian Rd on the west side by the bridge in Windsor and you’ll see a version of Detroit’s reality thanks to global millionaire Matty Maroun who bought up streets of houses that stand derelict today – community renewal means affordable housing and that means land trusts for the common good, not empire building for millionaires.
• What must we do? Re-building community means re-imaging new social relationships because those relationships are largely formed by the work we do, waged or unwaged… Maybe not ‘new’ social relationships so much as ‘Re-newed’ as we come together in a common cause instead of being driven apart and estranged from each other as we see happening – the inequality gap creating rich and poor.
• A recent email yesterday from the Boggs Center speaks to what I’ve been describing: “We … recognize that we are in an emerging revolutionary period, demanding much deeper thinking and organizing from us. In October, our New Work New Culture Conference brought together activists, artists, and intellectuals to advance our thinking about decentralized production and encouraging local economies. Local production for local needs is not abstract, but emerging in our city. Urban gardens, fish farming, new forms of education, art, and consciousness are visible among the cracks in the corporate order.”
• Coming from northern Ontario which can seem light years away from this area – but it’s not – I keep thinking of the connectedness of Lakes Huron and Ontario and the rivers that connect them – I already mentioned the astonishing fact of pulp being shipped in Indian factories where rayon will be used in the textile industry thousands of miles away…national boundaries, political realities, and a public reeling from the historical upheaval that is occurring cannot get organized quickly enough to capture the agenda for a local, national economy that can restore the idea of nations among nations built on strong resilient and organized communities. But we can start with where we are with what we’ve got as Detroiters are doing. One thing that always terrified the power elite was the organization of the masses in a common cause. The common cause I’ll say is fairness, equality, egalitarianism, freedom of expression and a willingness to accept our responsibility to each other – this I believe is our greatest challenge. We all seem to know our rights, but as those rights are whittled away by an increasingly authoritarian state out of ideas but armed to the teeth it’s our shared responsibility to each other that will save us.


Republishing: You are welcome to share/republish this post at will as long as proper attribution is made. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are mine, and in the case of the audio segments, the views expressed are mine and those of my guests and do not necessarily reflect the views of OPIRG Windsor or CJAM radio.

Windsor Mayor Dilkens and the FINA Swim Championships in Qatar: A Reflection

In the Dec 5th edition of the Windsor Star, Craig Pearson reported that Mayor Drew Dilkens was in Doha, Qatar to attend the FINA swim championship. Intimating sensitivity to long range travel with little benefit for the citizens of Windsor, the mayor defended his trip saying: “This event just didn’t line up nicely with the political schedule, that’s the honest truth of it…”. He continued to defend the trip saying, “[f]lying to the Middle East on the second day on the job wasn’t something I hoped to do. But it’s something we already committed to as a council, and being the mayor I had to follow through on the commitment. And it’s something I believe in.”

Mr. Dilkens was in Qatar because Windsor will host the 2016 FINA World Swimming Championships. Along for the ride were Windsor CAO Helga Reidel and chief of staff Norma Coleman. According to Pearson, the junket cost between $20,000 and $30,000, and are “part of the expenses the previous council approved in order for the city to host the $10-million event…” To further back up the necessity of the trip, Pearson quotes Lydia Miljan, a political science professor at the University of Windsor who reasoned that “…given Windsor won the bid for the games, it’s perfectly reasonable to have municipal representatives go to the current games because it helps the planning for when we host the games. It’s very common.” But Qatar is also in the news also because of the extensive exploitation of foreign workers in that country who are building the venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup of soccer. Since I recently viewed an Al Jazeera documentary on the plight of Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar, I was moved to reflect on the broader implications of mayor Dilkens’ trip regarding exploited labour and mega sports events.

The FINA event is possible in Windsor because of the downtown aquatic centre and the planned construction of a $6.5 million warm-up pool at the WFCU arena. These facilities likely cannot sustain themselves by local usage alone. The city will have to shop for events like FINA for the supposed spin-off economic benefits needed to offset the millions spent to build the venues. This strategy takes away from other social spending while asking Windsorites to trust that sporting events are useful for economic recovery.

Back in 2010 I was a member of a citizens group who challenged the Windsor aquatic centre proposal on the grounds that it was wrong to build the new centre on the backs of people in marginalized neighbourhoods. Neighbourhood assets such as Waterworld and the Sandwich Community Centre are closed (the gym at Waterworld still functions for the time being), the pool at the YMCA is closed (an indirect and predicted outcome of the construction of the downtown aquatic centre), and Adie Knox will be at risk of closure for the foreseeable future. A city the modest size of Windsor struggling to meet the social needs of citizens needed to close these facilities in order to meet the operating expenses of the new aquatic centre. I and many others thought that was wrong. The marginalization of the largely immigrant populations in Glengarry and Sandwich to build a pool so suburban kids could practice for swim meets mirror what happens with global mega sporting events. And this brings us to what we are complicit in regarding FINA and its facilities in Qatar of which the mayor-elect was so effusive.

There’s a lot wrong with global mega-sporting events: the destruction of neighbourhoods, forced relocation of politically disempowered citizens, and the linkage of sport and nationalistic militarism. FINA doesn’t rank with FIFA World Cup soccer and Windsor sport venues don’t rank with global attractions such as the Olympics and World Cup soccer. However, the Windsor FINA event is a small scale version of the mega events. The 2016 Windsor FINA event will benefit a small percent of the local population: the small local swim contingent, marketing firms, banks and developers, and so on. We’ll be assured by a compliant media that it will have positive ripple effects throughout the local economy. Yet, wages are at subsistence levels with few workers at the aquatic centre and WFCU arena venues, and the financial bulge in the local economy will likely be fleeting. As well, the past city council rammed through a motion (with the usual cover by the Windsor Star editorial board) to build a new $6.5 million warm-up pool at the WFCU arena for the 2016 FINA event. That pool is supposed to make up for the loss of other east-end pools as well, but the plan was contested by local citizens. So the social fabric of this city has been stretched, let’s say, by a desire to ‘cash in’ on smaller scale global sports events at the expense of marginalized immigrant communities, and quite possibly the future financial stability of the city.

Mayor Dilkens praised the Qatar aquatic facility perhaps unaware that it was built by exploited migrant workers for the 2006 Asian Games. James Parrack is Eurosport’s swimming commentator, and he pointed out in his Day 2 commentary of the 2014 FINA swim championships that he (and our mayor) sat in “…a world championship swimming event in the middle of the desert in yet another enormous facility built by migrant workers, where two 50m pools at the Hamad Aquatic Centre sit next door to another 50m pool in the mind bending Aspire Centre…” Parrack goes on to add that perhaps “[w]ith the wealth in the region there is a compelling story to be told of how sport can play a central role in the health and well-being of its next generation.” He doesn’t say which generation he means since 94% of the labour force in Qatar is migrant labour. Certainly sport has always played a central role in contributing to the well-being of next generations, but not on the backs of exploited workers and racialized inner city neighbourhoods.

Further, in a May 2014 Guardian article, Owen Gibson reported that “…hundreds of migrant workers are dying in Qatar each year”, and since being awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup, “…human rights groups have urged the Qatari government to make a simple, clear statement of intent by abolishing the controversial exit visa system that gives employers ultimate power over their workers and prevents workers from leaving the country without consent.” Gibson describes the internal conflict in Qatar on how to resolve what is arguably a huge human rights crisis that pits Qatari political factions against each other. As well, sending nations are left to hope for the best since even the meager wages their citizens make in Qatar mean a lot for the national economy of a country like Nepal. Once on the exploitation bandwagon a vicious cycle begins.

Mr. Dilkens is the mayor of a medium size city unique in the country. Still a manufacturing powerhouse at the most important border junction on the continent, Windsor is tied to the global economy like few others its size. It’s bad enough that Windsor mayors travel for all the wrong reasons, but to remain ignorant of the levels of human exploitation, while gushing about underwater cameras in competitive pools in the countries they travel to, must be spotlighted. Surely Mayor Dilkens must be aware that Windsor/Essex is home to many thousands of migrant and temporary foreign workers who labour far from home in exploitative circumstances. Would he care that in early November three migrant workers – a live-in caregiver, a farm worker, and a restaurant worker spoke in Windsor and other Ontario cities about their struggles, their lack of rights and the laws that impact them? Is he aware, that, according to Harsha Walia, in Canada “[m]igrant workers are indentured to a single employer, don’t have guaranteed access to social services or labour protections despite paying into them, work long hours and are often paid less than minimum wage, and are not granted permanent residency upon arrival”?

When we hear that Canada and Windsor/Essex must integrate into the global economy, what does that really mean? If we listen and look we’ll see the answers in Qatar and in our own backyard. The questions of labour mobility, wages, rights, and citizenship will become increasingly key issues in Windsor Essex. Actually they are right now, but they fly under the radar of polite discussion and the local corporate media because these questions are uncomfortable to the status quo leaders in the area. Instead, it seems we will continue to be served with circuses and parades because that’s easier to deal with than the reality of the exploitative global economy of which we are a part.

This country could ensure that migrant and temporary foreign workers have a clear path to citizenship so they can partake in the full social life of the country with all the rights and privileges the rest of us enjoy. This country can and should be a justice leader, and to do this requires that all of us, including elected officials, speak out when they see injustice.

The brutal reality is that the global economy as we know it cannot function without two things: cheap oil and cheap labour. Whether it’s low wage Chinese factory workers – millions who are internal migrant workers – pumping out smartphones, or growing food in Windsor/Essex, low wage, racialized, precarious work is the norm.

In contrast to an exploitative global economy where capital flows freely and local communities compete for corporate largesse (ie: factory jobs) and workers endure indentureship, Windsor could declare itself a Living Wage zone (examples here & here) while creating a fund that could generate the conditions for local community production using digital fabricators, as an example. We could also take the national lead in ensuring migrant and temporary foreign workers attain citizenship. These two ideas would be our ongoing contribution to making the world a more just place, arguably the reason why we are on this planet in the first place. We work in a global economy but we live in local communities. The big question of our times is how can we do both without reverting to some high-tech feudal nightmare?

Global sporting events lacking a social justice vision do not make lives better for working people or communities. The Windsor FINA event will only marginally and fleetingly benefit citizens. Social spending on income support and affordable housing by contrast provide lasting benefits for decades. Is expecting even local mayors to recognize to some degree the social, political, and economic realities of the global economy too much to ask? Not today; not while global inequality and war are on the rise and hundreds of millions of workers are forced into indentureship.

Mayor Dilkens could make a unique mark for himself by setting in motion deliberative citizens’ dialogue sessions in Windsor/Essex about how this city fits into the global economic reality, and we could model that on Simon Fraser University’s Canada’s World project. (More here)





























































Sept. 28, 2012: Robert Mittag (aka Rockin’ Robbee) live in the studio with music and commentary; Bernie Helling on Culture Days & events at Artcite

Click on image to learn more about OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

Well, the last Friday of the month means a sort of less structured program and Robert Mittag, aka Rockin’ Robbee, came in to play a couple of songs and we bantered back and forth on his roots as a Detroit/Windsor musician and on city issues around poverty and making ends meet.

Robbee’s version of Rouge Plant Blues:

On the 12 string…

Robbee’s Detroit music roots:

In this segment Robbee and I speak about cuts to the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB), so crucial to those on social assistance:

Voices Against Poverty and allies spoke to “Dollton” McGuinty during a riverfront walk on Aug. 19th calling attention to cuts to CSUMB. It’s not too late to help – click on image for the Call in Coffee Break campaign. (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Mike Longmoore chats with “Dollton” McGuinty. (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Here is an impassioned plea for the continuance of CSUMB:

Click image for more info on Artcite’s exhibits

Artcite Artistic Coordinator Bernie Helling gives a run down on Culture Days, the present and coming exhibits at Artcite, and the importance of supporting local cultural production:


Featured CD:

Click image for more on this Detroit group

Sample track: Silence is a Shadow’s Dream:

May 25: Rockin’ Robbee and some live tunes and reflections on Windsor; CLC senior economist Angella MacEwen on changes to Canada’s EI program

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

On the program I had a chat with Rockin Robbee in between songs about life in this city as one on a low income and living in social housing. With scandal licking at the doors of city hall and the current turmoil on the library board, we should be, as citizens, doing a better job at holding city hall and council accountable. One councilor, Alan Halberstadt is the lone dissenter on council and that’s gotta be wearing. We have an obligation as citizens to get organized now for the next election as it takes time and lots of effort to mobilize people and find alternative representatives. Robbee isn’t waiting and maybe he is a good example for the rest of us, as he takes a petition around Ward 10 that asks Councilor Al Maghnieh to resign over his misuse of a library credit card.

Robbee opened the program with his version of Something in the Air:

In this clip Robbee describes Windsor from his perspective and later how Occupy Windsor inspired him:

 Angella MacEwen is a senior economist with the Canadian Labour Congress and we’re now hearing some details about changes to Employment Insurance. These changes could have a significant impact on this area because the changes coincide with the move to allow temporary foreign workers to be paid less than Canadian workers. Windsor has the highest unemployment in the country plus, while there are hundreds if not thousands of jobs in the greenhouse industry, most are filled by non-union temporary foreign workers. The conditions in the greenhouses are harsh and the agricultural industry cannot be unionized because unjust Ontario laws prevent it. How will workers be able to fight for improved wages, benefits and working conditions? They will be forced to accept any job under any conditions for fear of losing EI. In my view the Harper regime is shaping the future for a monstrous labour system that will pit worker against worker in what will amount to work camps – unless we manage to organize resistance and have a plan for the next federal election.

Here, MacEwen gives an overview of EI and some context on what the proposed changes look like:

The changes to EI will have a harsh effect on Temporary Foreign workers and pit workers against each other as all wages drop:

Robbee closed the program out with a version of  Neil Young’s Harvest Moon:

Dec. 31: Year end program goes local to global with Tewodros Asfaw and Ken Lewenza Jr.

Click image for more info.

Listen to entire program here:

Guests Tewodros Asfaw and Ken Lewenza Jr

We’re wrapping up another year – one that saw a major shift in Canadian politics with the federal election that allowed Stephen Harper to gain an absolute majority in Parliament. The provincial election saw the liberals gain the skimpiest of majorities with a one seat edge over the other parties.

As well, this year marked the intensification of global state terrorism with drone attacks, primarily by the US in Pakistan and Afghanistan killing civilians, the Egyptian revolt leading to the Arab Spring, the NATO assault in Libya, the so-called austerity measures around the world leading to huge demonstrations, especially in Greece, England and Spain, and of course the Occupy Movement which is a response to the economic and political global order and the power of the few over the many.

Locally, the downtown core has been the subject of much discussion as the city elites prepare to move parts of the university campus downtown, build a $77 million aquatic center, and move the main branch of the public library into the Art Gallery of Windsor.

I think the common theme in this very partial list is the power of the state backed by the corporate media to, at the least, exclude the majority from decision making if not killing people outright or subjecting people to police violence. State violence on a scale so vast and horrific is the order of the day thanks to Barack Obama turning the lives of so many people from Afghanistan and Iraq, to Pakistan and soon Iran into living Hells? And what about the revolutions in Libya and Syria? What role has NATO really played and has there been a true popular uprising in Libya, and ongoing in Syria? The latter point is one we’ll talk about in a January program. From the local to the global is the theme of this last program of 2011.

In the studio

 In the studio with me was Tewodros Asfaw, a Windsor based Marxist observer on the global situation, and Ken Lewenza Jr., former city councilor and a community/labour activist. We had a very lively and heartfelt discussion  on the year we’re wrapping up and on what 2012 holds for us. 

The ShakeUp 2011 Year in Review

Here’s a partial list of what we covered in 2011:

Jan 7: Martin Luther King with Abayomi Azikiwe and Radical History Conference with Jae Muzzin

Jan. 21: The New University with Wilma van der Veen

Feb 4: Mohammed Hagag and Mohammed Nour were in the studio with personal reflections on what is happening in Egypt.

Feb 18: Michelle Soulliere & Dr Lee Rodney – “How to Forget the Border Completely”

March 4: Coalition Opposing the Arms Trade; International Women’s Day at The University of Windsor

March 18: Phyllis Bennis on Libya and in-studio musical guest Keats Conlon

April 8:  Samuel Mulafulafu, Director of Caritas Zambia

April 22: BP oil disaster with journalist Dahr Jamail and Mississippi resident Shirley Tillman

May 13: David Camfield and the Canadian Labour Movement; Tewodros Asfaw and structural adjustment programs in the global south.

May 20: Windsor city council vs. the neighbourhoods and a crisis of democracy

June 17: Cathleen Kneen of Food Secure Canada; Lynne Phillips, founder of Windsor/Essex Food Advisory Group

June 24: Tamara Kowalska of the Windsor Youth Centre; musical guest Anna Atkinson

July 1: Michael Skinner and the Afghan detainee report; Wendy Goldsmith and the Canada Boat to Gaza

July 29: Jennifer Nalbone (Great Lakes United) and Asian carp; musical guest Rayven Howard

August 12: Tzazna Miranda Leal and upcoming Caravan for Freedom; Pablo Godoy and Students Against Migrant Exploitation

August 19: Valerie Kaussen and Haiti reconstruction; Noa Mendelsohn Aviv and Bill C-4 and refugees to Canada

September 2: Julia Putnam and Detroit’s Bogg’s Educational Centre; Melina Laboucan-Massimo and tar Sands protests

September 30: John Restakis & co-ops for economic and social change; Peter Cameron and the Ontario co-op movement

October 7: The Occupy Movement comes to Windsor/Detroit: Tam Espin in Windsor and Mike Shane in Detroit

October 21: Occupy continues: Joe McGuire in Detroit; Mohammed Almoayad and Criss Crossroads in the studio – be sure to listen in as Chris sings an ode to Occupy!

October 14:  Yusef Shakur and Ocuppy Detroit; Tyler Sommers of Democracy Watch and Ontario’s election.

November 11:  David Heap: Freedom Flotilla II & Israeli jails; report from Occupy Detroit.

November 25: Author Al Sandine ( The Taming of the American Crowd) & the Occupy Movement; Zack from Occupy Detroit.

December 2: Sudbury based Chris Dixon and Occupy’s anarchist roots.

December 9: Russ Diabo and First Nations’ relationships with Canada; a statement on why Occupy Windsor left the park.

December 23:  Joanna Duarte Laudon and the Participatory Budgeting Project

Featured CDs

Click image for more on this band

Click image for more on this band