Changing Canada

Changing Canada: Political Economy as Transformation

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 536
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Changing Canada
    Book Description:

    The authors question dominant ways of thinking and promote alternative ways of understanding and explaining Canadian society and politics that encourage progressive social change. They examine how the evolution of capitalism is producing new types of transformations and new forms of resistance, and show that aspects of the state and the wider society are being contested. They also discuss the often paradoxical or contradictory effects of various social forces, such as the liberating but also constraining features of new communications technologies, new employment norms, and new household forms. Contributors include Laurie E. Adkin (University of Alberta), Caroline Andrew (University of Ottawa), Pat Armstrong (York University), William Carroll (University of Victoria), Elaine Coburn (Stanford University), William D. Coleman (McMaster University), Mary Cornish (senior partner with Cavalluzzo, Hayes, Shilton, McIntyre & Cornish), Judy Fudge (York University), Christina Gabriel (Carleton University), Sam Gindin (York University), Joyce Green (University of Regina), Eric Helleiner (Trent University), Robert G. Hollands (University of Newcastle), Jane Jenson (Université de Montréal), Roger Keil (York University), Stefan Kipfer (York University), Fuyuki Kurasawa (York University), Laura Macdonald (Carleton University), Rianne Mahon (Carleton University), Wendy McKeen (Dalhousie University), Elizabeth Millar (consultant, Nelligan, O'Brien and Payne Law Firm and Labour Consulting Group), Vincent Mosco (Carleton University), Susan Phillips (Carleton University), Ann Porter (York University), Tony Porter (McMaster University), Daniel Salee (Concordia University), Vic Satzewich (McMaster University), Jim Stanford (Canadian Auto Workers' Union, Toronto), Mel Watkins (emeritus, University of Toronto), and Lloyd L. Wong (University of Calgary).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7099-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    Fundamental to the social sciences, and to political economy in particular, is a focus on identifying social relations and scrutinizing social change. The previous volume in this series was entitledUnderstanding Canada: Building on the New Canadian Political Economy(Clement 1997).Understandingwas the operative theme. The first volume in this series was entitledThe New Canadian Political Economy(Clement and Williams 1989). It concentrated on the roots of therevivalof political economy in Canada, building from the classic Innisian tradition. The present volume has as its primary theme the notion oftransformation. It is about the engagement of...

    • 1 Politics in the Time and Space of Globalization
      (pp. 3-24)

      The times move on. So must our means of understanding them.

      We live in fresh times with stale ideologies, left, right, and centre. So too the established scholarly paradigm of Canadian political economy – created mostly in the 1970s but with roots in the writings of the first half of the twentieth century – although it has served us well in the study of Canada, it no longer suffices. Still, if we are to avoid mere fashion changes in scholarship, it must be built on rather than discarded.

      The present proclaims itself, too loudly, to be the era of globalization. We need...

    • 2 Transformative Politics, the State, and the Politics of Social Change in Quebec
      (pp. 25-50)

      Previously, William Coleman and I argued that much of Quebec’s evolution over the past three or four decades could be understood in terms of the development of a counterparadigm that was premised on contesting Canada’s political and cultural hegemony and on continued commitment by the provincial state to social solidarity and social justice. In light of the adoption of a fairly neoliberal policy agenda by the Quebec government, however, we considered with some perplexity the future “counteracting” potential of the counterparadigm, and we noted the emerging tendency of a number of scholars, intellectuals, and activists, on the left mostly, to...

    • 3 Decolonization and Recolonization in Canada
      (pp. 51-78)

      Canada in its current form is a model of how a colonial enterprise established by the fusion of commercial and state power and by the occasional application of military force has evolved to become mostly pluralistic, tolerant, democratic, and prosperous. Yet despite its successes, Canada is profoundly challenged by political and economic forces. The former threaten to reconfigure the state’s sovereignty and geographic parameters; the latter, to transcend state sovereignty in profoundly undemocratic ways. At the historic juncture when Canada seems to have the most potential to move to a postcolonial relationship with Aboriginal nations, nationalist forces seek to transform...

    • 4 Social Movements and Transformation
      (pp. 79-106)

      Transformation – the construction of a different future from a troubled past – has been an issue central to both Canadian political economy (CPE) and to the social movements that, particularly since the 1960s, have helped shape the terrain of politics and cultural life in Canada. Whether they develop around sexual, gendered, ethnic, class, or environmental interests, social movements are characteristically the carriers of social change, as they press for and even prefigure political, economic, and cultural transformation. So it is hardly surprising that political economy, sharing much the same interest in transformation, has been implicated in the emergence and growth of...

    • 5 Politics and Transformation: Welfare State Restructuring in Canada
      (pp. 109-134)

      The welfare state affects the lives of all Canadians. Its activities range from providing health care and education to providing some form of income for those who are unable to support themselves because of illness or old age or because they are unable to find work. Dramatic changes have occurred in the welfare state in Canada in the last thirty years as they have elsewhere in the advanced capitalist countries, and particularly in the last decade. These changes reflect larger debates and shifts in policy that have taken place concerning the role of the state in the economy and in...

    • 6 No Minor Matter: The Political Economy of Childcare in Canada
      (pp. 135-160)

      Canadian political economy has traditionally focused on “the big questions” such as the limits of staples-centred development, dependent industrialisation, the role of the state, the national questions, and matters of gender and race-ethnicity, often with respect to class relations. What place could childcare have among such big issues? Our claim is that childcare is not a minor matter. It is of fundamental importance for understanding the main business of the state and its relationships to society. Childcare provides a window on state-society relations at the point where concerns about public and private, state and market, and family responsibility and employment...

    • 7 Pay Equity: Complexity and Contradiction in Legal Rights and Social Processes
      (pp. 161-182)

      “Who benefits?” is a central question in political economy. The answer to it may seem obvious in the case of pay equity, the hard-won legislative requirement to pay those working in female-dominated jobs on the same basis as those employed in male-dominated jobs. But as post-modernists and poststructuralists so often remind us, answers to Who benefits? can vary substantially. And the answers often reflect the location of the person addressing the question. Political economy tells us that the answers are not only complex and varied, depending on location, but also often expose fundamental contradictions. “Contradictions,” as the term is used...

    • 8 Gender Paradoxes and the Rise of Contingent Work: Towards a Transformative Political Economy of the Labour Market
      (pp. 183-210)

      Contingent work is growing in Canada. As early as 1990, the Economic Council of Canada observed that the growth of nonstandard employment was outpacing the growth of full-time, full-year jobs. By the mid-1990s Human Resources and Development Canada (1995) claimed that only 33 percent of Canadians held normal jobs, and recent studies confirm the rise of precarious forms of nonstandard work and their persistently gendered and racialized character (Krahn 1995; Ornstein 2000; Vosko 2001; Zeytinoglu and Muteshi 2000).

      Conceived broadly, contingent work includes those forms of employment involving atypical employment contracts, limited social benefits and statutory entitlements, job insecurity, low...

    • 9 Beyond the Continentalist/Nationalist Divide: Politics in a North America “without Borders”
      (pp. 213-240)

      During the so-called free trade election of 1988, the Liberal party produced a powerful political advertisement that portrayed negotiators of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement erasing the forty-ninth parallel, the line dividing Canada and the United States (Williams 1995, 33). The ad was effective because it evoked many of the fears of absorption by the richer and more powerful country to the south that have haunted Canadians since Confederation and before. Canadian political economy has similarly been haunted by the nature of the country’s relationship with the United States and its impact on Canada's economic development and sovereignty. From the...

    • 10 “Playin’ Along”: Canada and Global Finance
      (pp. 241-264)

      During the 1980s and 1990s it seemed as if global financial markets had become so large and so integrated that they were fatally undermining the policy autonomy of even the most developed states. Gill and Law (1993) insightfully developed this idea by pointing to the “structural power of capital,” by which they meant the ability of increasingly mobile capital to discipline states by moving abroad. Cox (2000) usefully highlighted the emergence of anébuleuse, a transnational process bringing together private financial elites, finance officials, and international financial institutions to strengthen the degree to which states adjust to the needs of...

    • 11 Toward a North American Common Currency?
      (pp. 265-286)

      Although the move to free trade in Western Europe has long been accompanied by monetary cooperation, this has not been the case in North America. When the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were created, no initiative was taken even to fix exchange rates between the three countries. Beginning in 1999, however, an active and high-level debate broke out about the need for a monetary union in the region. In Canada the issue suddenly received front-page press coverage and became the subject of Senate hearings. It has also been widely debated in Mexico,...

    • 12 The Transformation of Communication in Canada
      (pp. 287-308)

      The new millennium brought fresh evidence of transformation in the communication industry. It began with the January 2000 announcement that America Online (AOL) would take over Time-Warner in the largest media merger in history. The announcement rocked the industry, because it brought together the world’s largest Internet service provider with the world’s largest holder of intellectual property. At that time AOL served twenty-six million internet subscribers in the United States alone, and Time-Warner had a major stake in just about every sector of the media industry, includingTimeandPeoplemagazines, Warner books, records, and films, Time-Warner cable, the second...

    • 13 Municipal Restructuring, Urban Services, and the Potential for the Creation of Transformative Political Spaces
      (pp. 311-334)

      The objective of this chapter is to examine whether there is presently potential to create transformative political spaces through municipal politics in large Canadian cities. This is both a new and an old question in Canada, and this chapter will examine the new context in which this question arises and the ways in which it has played itself out in the past.

      The most novel element is the wave of municipal restructuring that has been going on in the large Canadian cities. Six of the largest Canadian urban centres (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Hull,¹ Quebec, Hamilton, and Halifax) have recently...

    • 14 The Urban Experience and Globalization
      (pp. 335-362)

      Canadian cities appear once again to be in crisis. Long considered different from (and superior to) their U.S. counterparts by many observers, Canadian urban regions have now entered a period of soul searching with regard to their economic viability, political governance, social justice, cultural attractiveness, and ecological sustainability. Symptomatic of this crisis are calls by municipal politicians, pundits, and business groups who claim that Canadian cities suffer from a competitive lag and must receive financial support from senior levels of government similar to the support given to the American cities. While this crisis affects all categories of cities in Canada...

    • 15 Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race: The Transformation of Transnationalism, Localism, and Identities
      (pp. 363-390)

      Immigration flows to Canada have always varied in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, and class. However, one of the striking features of late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century migration patterns is their diversity. Contemporary migration flows not only involve the movement of unskilled workers who fill undesirable, low-wage jobs that are hard to fill with domestic labour; they also involve the movement of highly skilled professionals and technical workers who fill well-paying and socially desirable jobs, and this all occurs essentially in urban labour markets, where most immigrants are destined. These flows also contain a significant proportion of individuals and households...

    • 16 Ecology, Political Economy, and Social Transformation
      (pp. 393-421)

      Ecological thought offers political economy a blueprint for a radically transformed model of development that is relevant to multiple contexts and territorial levels of collective action: local, regional, national, and international. From work on sustainable livelihoods for local communities to bioregional planning to proposals for the regulation of global trade and investment, ecological science and green economics are making important contributions to programs of reforms and their guiding principles. Indeed, no other body of thought has offered a comparable opportunity to left political economy to renew itself as a counterhegemonic discourse with enormous transformative potential. Although not all variants of...

    • 17 Canadian Labour and the Political Economy of Transformation
      (pp. 422-442)

      The trade union movement constitutes a central feature in the overall constellation of organizing social change in Canada. Unions reflect a large and relatively well-organized membership: close to four million Canadians are represented under collective bargaining provisions of one form or another, or about 30 percent of all paid workers. Compared to most popular organizations, unions are relatively stable and well-funded. And since they organize workers at the point of production, unions carry unique potential to exert concrete economic pressure that can be levied in the direct private interests of union members, as well as in the pursuit of broader...

    • 18 Towards a “Cultural” Political Economy of Canadian Youth
      (pp. 443-466)

      While there are individual books on Canadian youth in selective fields and while studies of young people are found scattered among an array of academic journals and government publications in Canada, the Canadian literature in stark contrast to well-established theoretical and empirical bodies of literature in the United Kingdom (Furlong and Cartmel 1997) and the United States (Epstein 1998; Males 1996), not to mention a burgeoning interest in young people in Scandinavia (Fornas and Bolin 1995) and Australia (White 1999). Paradoxically, this lacuna belies a growing concern in Canada over the future of its younger generation. The subtle shift from...

    • 19 Finding Godot? Bringing Popular Culture into Canadian Political Economy
      (pp. 467-492)

      Economy or culture? Such are the stark and highly misleading alternatives that still appear to present themselves to most scholars working in Canadian intellectual circles today. Though for distinct reasons to be addressed below, this condition echoes conditions found elsewhere in the Western world, where the fields of political economy and cultural studies have experienced an uneasy coexistence. Studied stances of mutual ignorance or suspicion have prevailed, the two parties turning their backs to each other or eyeing each other across meticulously tended fences behind which nominally distinct objects of analysis (capitalism and popular culture) are jealously guarded. Prejudices abound...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 493-498)