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New Column at CanadianInterviews.ca

My first monthly column at CanadianInterviews.ca is up:

Not Getting the Points: Our Changing Immigration Paradigm focuses on the trend in Canada away from out historic practice of permanent status upon arrival to the  increasing prevalence of two-step paths to permanent immigration that go via the temporary foreign worker program.

Full thesis

Here is my full thesis, for those interested…

Neoliberalising Immigration in Canada: The Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower-Levels of Formal Training and the Expansion of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Impressions of China

Here’s a reproduction of the article I wrote on my trip to China for the Arthur newspaper.

I recently spent six weeks in China as part of a trip focused in part upon gaining an understanding of the current state of communist China. Since returning, various people have asked me for my impressions of China, and so I have undertaken here to sketch some of what I learned about the country, based upon my own study and observations and upon conversations with various people, ranging from party officials to academics to working people.

One thing that I’ve learned about China is that any discussion of its politics, society and economy quickly elicits controversy and strong opinions. In sketching my impressions here, though my remarks will undoubtedly fall on one or the other side of various heated debates. I aim simply to present China as I experienced it, and to attempt to encourage understanding of a fascinating country which is rapidly resuming its historic position as the world’s leading society. Read the rest of this entry »

Thesis Abstract

I recently finished my (yet-to-be-defended) MA thesis, entitled “Neoliberalising Immigration in Canada: The Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower-Levels of Formal Training and the Expansion of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.”

Here’s the abstract:

There has been a significant expansion in Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) over the past ten years. The Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training (PPORLLFT), a sub program of the TFWP, has been leading this expansion. Drawing upon testimony given to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, this thesis examines the development and expansion of the program, since its inception in 2002, and shows that it is connected to the ongoing process of neoliberalisation in Canada. One significant example of this connection is the program’s support for increases in two-step immigration streams that involve employer sponsorship for successful transition to permanent residency; this increase represents a privatisation of citizenship decisions. More than this, the neoliberal aspects of the PPORLLFT have increased inequality and the ability of employers to have a more disciplined workforce. This has decreased the ability of working people to have influence in their workplace and over economic policy more generally.

Jim Stanford’s Economics for Everyone

This book is a great, comprehensive, and accessible overview of the economics of capitalism.

Two things I learned from this book:

The purpose of a corporation is to protect the individual wealth of the corporation’s investors and owners.

The fundamental conflict between employers and workers. Employers pay the workers to do a task; they are buying task completion. But workers aren’t selling task completion, they are selling their time.

Notes on Panitch and Swartz From Consent to Coercion

From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms originally published in 1985 and with this third edition published in 2003 is essentially reading in the study of labour in Canada. The book traces the history of free collective bargaining in Canada, from its origins in 1944 (Privy Council Order ___ ), through the era of the Fordist accord, and through the period of neoliberalism and monetarism. ‘Free collective bargaining’ is the ability for a group of workers to as a group negotiate the terms of their work with their employer without fear of repression or coercion (e.g. being jailed, beaten-up, fired, etc.). The authors caution on the use of the word ‘free’:

The use of the word free does have a crucial double meaning. It suggests that a balance of power exists between capital and labour, that they face each other as equals, otherwise any bargain struck could scarcely be viewed as one which was freely achieved. It also suggests that the state’s role is akin to that of an umpire who works to be involved in applying, interpreting, and adjusting impartial rules. In the case of the first meaning, the structural inequality between capital and labour is obscured; in the second, the use of the state’s coercive powers on behalf of capital falls from view. (13) Read the rest of this entry »

What is neoliberalism?

Neoliberalism is a word that is used to describe a wide variety of processes and practices that began to gain prominence in the 1970s following the economic slow downs that occurred during that decade. The word neoliberalism is obviously derived from the conjoining of ‘neo’ with ‘liberalism’, i.e. some form of new liberalism. What then is liberalism, and what is new about neoliberalism?

The development of liberalism as a political idea is closely conjoined with the end of feudalism and the beginnings of capitalist modes of production. Besides the social aspects of liberalism, like support for individual rights, fair treatment under the law, and democracy, liberalism is also fundamentally about the sanctity of private property and the superiority of the so-called free market as a means of organizing economic exchanges. Neoliberalism is a reinvigoration of the economic aspects of liberalism, drawing upon the branches of economic theory known as neoclassical economics and monetarism. Read the rest of this entry »

Karl Polanyi on Socialism

Every form of socialism is based on the hope of mankind to attain to a form of social being in which people could normally in their every day existence actualize their responsibilities to their fellows because they would know how their commissions and omissions affect them, and they would be able to act accordingly. Life in society is not free. We influence, burden, harm, and disturb the lives of our fellows whether we will it or not. We must bide by the truth that we humans are condemned to live upon the freedom of our fellows, that we are condemned to live upon the work and toil, upon the health and life, of others.

-Letter to a friend, 1929

80s Banjo Challenge

My sister challenged me to make a banjo version of the Rod Stewart song Rhythm of My Heart:

Here is my version:

Also, the song is, I believe, based on the traditional Scottish tune The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond:

NFB Film – Finding Farley

Last night we watched a delightful NFB film called Finding Farley. It follows as couple, their toddler, and dog as they wend their way across the country, mostly by canoe, visiting sites featured in the books of Farley Mowat. Besides the interesting premise, and many segments with Mowat himself, the film stands up on the strength of the quality of the filming. Besides the plotline, the movie is gorgeous, with amazing shots of the landscape and of the flora and fauna. The filmmakers are obviously well experienced in nature photography and manage to get impressive shots of horned owls, whales, wolves, bugs, caribou, etc.

Stream it for free here: Finding Farley