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Presentations: "Uncommon Dreams: Visions of the Public Good"

Click the name of one of the presenters from the list below to access their abstract and an .mp3 recording of their presentation. To start the audio, click the play button below the abstract.



It's the Crude Dude
McQuaig, Linda

In September, Linda's most recent book, it's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight to Save the Planet, was released. The book is a blistering and urgent look at the powerful role that oil plays in shaping the international political landscape. With all the drama and intrigue of a thriller, the book explores the disturbing alliance that has developed between Big Oil and Washington. With her trademark analysis and insight, Linda McQuaig looks at the effect that this relationship has had in shaping United States foreign policy. The book also underlines the reality that no nation has more to lose in the high-stakes game of Big Oil politics than Canada.

Public Sphere: Renewing the Power of the Public
Soron, Dennis; Govier, Trudy

Dennis Soron: The Poverty of Privatism: Renewing Faith in Public Action This talk explores the origins of (and possible solutions to) the problem of "privatism" in contemporary culture- that is, the growing tendency of people to disengage from the sphere of politics and public participation, and to orient their main energies around the private domain of career, family, personal consumption, and self advancement. Reversing this ongoing process of depoliticization will require more than simply cajoling the more cynical and apathetic among us into becoming more civic-minded. It will require struggling to transform a whole range of social, political, and economic arrangements that now leave us feeling powerless and isolated, and provide us with few meaningful opportunities for addressing the problems we face in a public, collective manner. Trudy Govier Building Peace from the Pieces: Are there forces more powerful than bombs and tanks? Is there power in 'people power' or 'cooperative power'? What is the evidence? How could we think of such power as useful in a world torn by war and violence?

The Politics of Corporate Social Responsbility
Bakan, Joel

Is corporate social responsibility (CSR) the solution, part of the solution, or part of the problem for stopping corporations from causing harm? Bakan argues that CSR is at odds with the corporation's true institutional nature, and that we should be sceptical of it, especially when it is invoked to defend deregulation and privatization.

In the Public Interest: the Legal Fights to Save or Destroy Medicare
Shrybman, Steven

Recently the battle for the future of Medicare has opened up on a new front-in the courts. Among the cases currently underway or recently decided is a pending decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in "Chaoulli", a case invoking the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge Quebec's ban on two-tier delivery. Recently the Federal Court dismissed an application by the CUPE, the Canada Health Coalition, and other groups and unions seeking orders requiring the federal Minister of Health to monitor and enforce the Canada Health Act in light of reports by Auditors General documenting the failure of several Ministers to do so. As of this writing litigation is also pending before Ontario's Superior Court challenging approvals for two P3 hospitals to proceed in the province. Steven Shrybman, who has been involved in each of these cases, will provide an overview of this litigation and discuss their common themes.

The Digital Deluge and Survival of Canadian Identity
Starowicz, Mark

Recently the battle for the future of Medicare has opened up on a new front-in the courts. Among the cases currently underway or recently decided is a pending decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in "Chaoulli", a case invoking the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge Quebec's ban on two-tier delivery. Recently the Federal Court dismissed an application by the CUPE, the Canada Health Coalition, and other groups and unions seeking orders requiring the federal Minister of Health to monitor and enforce the Canada Health Act in light of reports by Auditors General documenting the failure of several Ministers to do so. As of this writing litigation is also pending before Ontario's Superior Court challenging approvals for two P3 hospitals to proceed in the province. Steven Shrybman, who has been involved in each of these cases, will provide an overview of this litigation and discuss their common themes.

Public Domain: Commodification of Knowledge, Education and Culture
Crean, Susan; Kachur, Jerrold

Susan Crean: Who Owns Culture? The Draining of the Public Domain and the Rise of the Cultural Industries This talk will address the implications of the plundering of the public domain currently occurring (through privatization and appropriation), the public (and private) revolt against copyright, and the global pressure on creators to abandon their rights. Of particular concern to creators is the disappearance of moral rights in the world of piracy and commodified culture, a phenomenon which has major implications for the public domain. Jerrold Kachur: American Imperialism and Cultural Commodification: The War Against Terrorism as an Economic Policy for Intellectual Properties This presentation discusses the New American Foreign Policy and the War on Terrorism as a way to use the hard-power of the military to open up economic markets for cultural commodities, in this case, related to higher education. The author explores the triangle of international relations among Canada, Afghanistan, and the USA and how information infrastructure (e.g. computer networks and software), educational goods (e.g. commercialized research) and education services (e.g. online learning) provide the means for Americans to fight terrorism and make money at the same time. The author argues that the right to preemptive self-defence (The Bush Doctrine) and the more 'humanist' version of soft-multilateralism (Nixon-to-Clinton security strategies) enable the soft-power of American cultural imperialism to work in many tacit ways as a form of creeping commodification.

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