On today's episode, I talk to Leah Cameron, a television writer in Toronto. She is the creator, director and head writer of The Communist’s Daughter, a comedy series loosely based on her left-wing family in Toronto in 1989, now available on CBC Gem.
This is episode 14 of Sweater Weather with Aaron Giovannone.
Tom Wayman, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary and the author of over 20 books, reads his poem, “O Calgary.” It’s a beautiful work in which the city becomes symbolic of a value system and a way of life under capitalism.
"O Calgary" was published in Poetry, the world's most prestigious English-language poetry publication, and it appears in Wayman's recent book, Watching a Man Break a Dog's Back (Harbour Publishing).
Why do we need an honest portrayal of work and employment in literature? What is the point of poetry? How has postmodernism affected arts and education?
Today we are visited by Tom Wayman, the author of more than 20 books of poetry and prose, as well as a professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. Today we talk about his award-winning collection of essays, If You’re Not Free at Work, Where Are You Free?: Literature and Social Change (Guernica, 2018). Tom also treats us to a reading of a couple of his beautiful poems.
For the newsletter, I wrote about getting a vaccine, briefly feeling 'part of a society', and wishing everyone their shots soon.
Read it here on Substack and sign up to the mailing list!
This episode we’re visited by Radhika Desai, professor of political science at the University of Manitoba. She is the author and editor of several works on political economy, including Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire (Pluto Press, 2013) as well as Revolutions: A Twenty-First Century Perspective, which was a special issue of Third World Quarterly in 2020, co-edited with her colleague Henry Heller.
How have neoliberal economies fared during the coronavirus crisis, compared to more planned economies? How does capitalism structure the geopolitics between states? What is the role of the US dollar? And as a bonus: we discuss the relationship of intellectuals to left politics, in reference to Prof. Desai's first book, Intellectuals and Socialism (1994).
This is episode 12 of Sweater Weather.
The early years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War produced a new consensus among western elites that it was now a good thing to do business with China and develop cultural relations.
A fascinating film from 1990 illustrates this moment of history, Bethune: The Making of A Hero, starring Donald Sutherland as Norman Bethune, the real life Canadian communist doctor who died in China in 1939 providing medical aid to Mao’s 8th Army as it battled the invading Japanese. Bethune was a swash-buckling humanitarian who became a revered figure of the Chinese Revolution, and later a sanctified Canadian national hero, too.
This 18-million dollar movie was a co-production of Canadian and Chinese state partners, and was at the time the most expensive Canadian film ever produced. An ambitious but flawed film, the production was marred by a power struggle between the Canadians involved in the project, the film’s star, actor Donald Sutherland and its screenwriter, Ted Allan. I’ve recently written about Bethune: The Making of a Hero in a piece for Passage magazine titled “After the Cold War, China and Canada United to Honour Norman Bethune." https://readpassage.com/after-the-cold-war-china-and-canada-united-to-honour-norman-bethune/
Joining Sweater Weather to talk about Bethune: The Making of a Hero is Paul Jay, journalist, filmmaker, founder and host of theAnalysis.news, a video and audio current affairs show. He is past chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada, as well as a founding chair of the Hot Docs! Canadian International Documentary Festival. Paul is also the nephew of Ted Allan, the screenwriter of Bethune, and he offers a unique perspective on the film, as well as its political, economic and historical background.
This is part two of my discussion with Dr. Stephanie Ross, associate professor and director of the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University. She is author, co-author and co-editor of several works on Canadian labour and unions, including Building a Better World: An Introduction to the Labour Movement in Canada (Fernwood, 2015) and Labour Under Attack: Anti-Unionism in Canada (Fernwood, 2018).
In this second part of the interview, we talk about life within unions in more detail, especially about the inequalities that unions sometimes reproduce within themselves while protecting workers’ interests. Seniority is an example of this, a principle many unions have established to guide layoffs, pay, promotion, etc. Seniority is key in disrupting the bosses’ power to arbitrarily dismiss employees, but it also disproportionately impacts younger workers who are the least able to shoulder the cost of layoffs when they are downloaded onto them.
And as a couple of professors we can’t help but gab about the crazily unequal workplace that is the contemporary university, where faculty unions have tolerated or accepted differential tiers of employment—the distinction between tenured faculty and sessional/adjunct faculty. It’s a corrosive situation that undermines worker solidarity.
This week I talk to Dr. Stephanie Ross, associate professor and director of the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University. She is author, co-author and co-editor of several works on Canadian labour and unions, including Building a Better World: An Introduction to the Labour Movement in Canada (Fernwood, 2015) and the book we primarily discuss today, Labour Under Attack: Anti-Unionism in Canada (Fernwood, 2018).
Do Canadians and workers support unions? What are the sources of influential anti-union ideas? What do labour organizations themselves do that sometimes fosters anti-union sentiment? We address these thorny but important topics today.
This is part 1 of a 2-part interview with Dr. Ross. The second part will be released as a premium episode, available to patrons of the show at the 5 dollar a month level or higher. Sign up at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=7353597
Hint: it's not just for capital-L Liberals.
Find the full interview with Ian McKay here: https://www.sweaterweatherpod.com/home/a-century-of-canadian-socialism-feat-ian-mckay
In episode 8 I talk to Ian McKay, professor of history at McMaster University and director of the L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History. He is the author and co-author of numerous books and articles about the Canadian left, including Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People’s Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920, as well as Rebels, Reds, Radicals: Rethinking Canada’s Left History. This is an absolute gem of an episode, a must watch for anyone craving a comprehensive historical perspective on socialism and social movements in Canada.
We begin our discussion, however, talking about liberalism and Prof. McKay’s now classic essay, “The Liberal Order Framework: A Prospectus for a Reconnaissance of Canadian History” which frames Canadian history as the progress of a ‘passive revolution’ towards liberalism as it became the dominant ideology in Canada. With this groundwork in place, we move through several historical periods of Canadian socialism, at times a competitor to liberalism, as laid out in another of Prof. McKay's influential papers, “For a New Kind of History: A Reconnaissance of 100 Years of Canadian Socialism.”