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BTL 2

Articles

  • The workers need Chapter 11

    As for all that self-righteous hot air about how B.C. teachers should set a better example by obeying the “law,” I can’t imagine a better lesson in democracy than watching a group of citizens collectively resisting injustice.

    Karl Marx argued that under capitalism, the legal system was pretty much a tool of the ruling class, designed to protect property rights and keep workers in line. This is quite an oversimplification, but every now and then Marx comes close to the mark. If he could see what’s been happening in British Columbia, he’d probably say, “I told you so.”

  • Privatizing Canada’s Public Universities

    Perhaps the most obvious kind of privatization of the university is the growing reliance on individuals rather than the collective to finance university operations. As students are all too well aware, university tuition and other fees have been skyrocketing in recent years – as have student debts. Between 1990-91 and 2000-2001, tuition fees in Canada rose by 126 per cent, while average student debts rose from about $8,700 to $25,000. This is because students are paying a far larger share of the costs of postsecondary education, from an average of 17 per cent of operating costs in 1992 to 28 per cent of operating costs in 2002. As well, a growing number of university programs are slated to be, if they are not already, almost fully financed by students. Not long ago, for example, the University of Toronto announced its intention to increase its law school tuition to $25,000.

  • Academics in the Service of War

    In Canada, we have guidelines that strictly regulate the use of human stem cells and assisted human reproduction. Both Bill C-6 and the Guidelines on Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research came about through public consultations with scientists, faith groups, the Canadian public and scholars in bioethics, sociology and law, among others. These instruments established guidelines for ethical research into and use of technologies with potentially profound life-saving medical benefits. Furthermore, the Guiding Principles include the notion that “Research undertaken should have potential health benefits for Canadians” and that the research should “Respect individual and community notions of human dignity and physical, spiritual and cultural integrity.”

  • Monsanto, Lawyers, Lies and Videotape

    Completed more than two years ago, Seeds of Change was my first feature documentary film. The documentary was supposed to facilitate communication among farmers and the residents of rural communities regarding the effects of the new technologies associated with Genetically Modified Crops (GMCs). Farmers and the public have yet to see the video because the original goal has been subverted.

  • Who’re Ya Gonna Call? Not the Corporate University

    You’re wondering about the safety of genetically modified food, or its harmful environmental impact; you’re confused about whether to continue taking Vioxx for severe arthritic pain; you’re mystified by the apparent scientific controversy concerning climate change; you’re apprehensive about the cloning of Dolly the sheep and wonder whether catastrophe beckons when this new technology is used to create a clonal human being.

  • Private Pretensions

    In our day, all that seems to remain of the historical struggle between the competing visions of socialism and capitalism, between the collective interest and the individual interest, is the euphemistic “public sector” versus the “private sector.” But while most of the vitality has been drained from this revolutionary residue, some meaning yet remains unspoken, suggesting rival conceptions of society. So, locating our institutions in one or the other of these categories, public or private, carries a larger significance and merits our close attention.

  • Introduction to the Subversion of the University

    Business interests have been grazing in the groves of academe for at least a century, and their presence has always troubled people concerned with academic freedom and the ability of institutions of higher learning to pursue research unfettered by the dictates of profit-seeking.

    Nearly fifty years ago, when Canadian Dimension was founded, the New Left sounded the alarm about the proliferating ties between industry and universities, with such prescient essays as E.P. Thompson’s “The Business University” and James Ridgeway’s The Closed Corporation: American Universities in Crisis. However, the sixties

  • War on Shareholders

    The Right do it right. It is time for the Left to get it right.

    When George W. Bush set the scene for his obscene adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, he identified particular wrongdoers. The countries were harbourers of known killers or run by vicious individuals. He demonized them. He named names. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein. Osama bin Laden had infected a whole country with his venom and Afghanistan needed to be cleansed to get rid of Osama, the despicable, and to eradicate his legacy. And, when talking about the invisible weapons of mass destruction, Bush and his minions would invariably invoke Saddam’s hands-on evil-doing: “He has them. He is not co-operating. He is lying. He gassed his own people.” The media, cartoonists and stand-up comedians obediently fell into line. It had become unanimous: Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were the toxic agents that had produced festering sores. They had to be removed to lance the poisoned hosts, whatever the cost might be to anyone, including the hapless hosts.

  • The Party’s (Almost) Over

    To the long list of wearying apocalyptic scenarios facing the future of humankind must, unfortunately, be appended yet another. One which, nonetheless, at least has the merit of focusing attention by virtue of its sheer immediacy.

    According, then, to many of the world’s most prestigious (independent) oil geologists and institutions, not only is the era of cheap oil now almost certainly at an end, but by the end of this decade – and likely before – the price of a barrel of oil will rise well past $100, and will continue to climb quickly and inexorably thereafter.

  • The Panhandler Law

    The writer Anatole France once observed, “the law, in its magnificent equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges and begging for bread in the streets.” In rookie mayor Sam Katz’s new Winnipeg, we now have achieved the same magnificent equality. In a recent vote at Winnipeg City Council, a new by-law was adopted forbidding panhandling within the vicinity of “captive” audiences: bus stops, banks and ATMs, parking lots and parked cars, indoor public walkways, elevators and outdoor patios. This step effectively fulfills Mayor Katz’s entire anti-poverty program advanced in the course of his election campaign just over one year ago.

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