MINI-EP: Posties Organize for Pandemic Health and Safety

Are front-line workers equipped with what they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19— and if not, how are they organizing to ensure the health and safety of their workplaces? Roland Schmidt, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 730, joins Team Advantage to discuss the conditions at mail facilities, the difference between management’s communications and actions, and the importance of workfloor organizing in getting demands met.

Sign the petition for safe Canada Post working conditions:
https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-safe-working-conditions-for-canadian-postal-workers-during-covid19-crisis

Can a Future Be Imagined?

What would it mean to imagine a future worth living in? Recorded roughly 10 days before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, Team Advantage takes a look at the range of obstacles that prevent us from imagining a desirable future, and propose some useful resources for moving forward. Featuring Fredric Jameson’s “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” Mark Fisher’s idea of the “slow cancellation of the future,” the rise of conspiracy theories, Walter Benjamin, nostalgia for the future, and much much more.

Capitalism’s Virus

057

Pandemic! Team Advantage convenes (while practicing Safe Social Distancing) to discuss the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has a great deal to do with capitalism. What contributed to the origins of this virus? How did it spread? In this globalized world, why do we have robust global trade and finance rules, but no equivalent global public health institutions? How does neoliberal policy —which reduced the capacity of the public health systems over decades— fare when pandemics strike? How are governments responding, and how does the incoming batch of money-printing bailouts affect demands for a Green New Deal?

Kenney Forgot Who Defeated the Nazis

056

Nazis are bad! The Communists who defeated them are good! Somehow, this is massively confusing to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney!

Joined by special guest Breht O’Shea of Revolutionary Left Radio, Team Advantage examines Jason Kenney’s confused sense of history. Why is he such a big fan of the debunked Black Book of Communism? Are Nazism and Communism the same, as Jason Kenney proposes? Who (and what social forces) benefit from this reading of history?

Thanks to Breht O’Shea of Revolutionary Left Radio for joining us. Find RLR at revolutionaryleftradio.com and on Twitter @RevLeftRadio.

Further reading:

Debunking: “Communism killed more people than naziism!” by Morgan Visser

Why Are the Trump White House and Media Citing an Antisemitic Book’s Claims to Demonize Communism? by Ben Norton

The “Double Genocide” Theory: The New and Official Form of Holocaust Denial by Dovid Katz

Bill to remember ‘Ukrainian Genocide’ under Stalin treads tricky ground by Lahav Harkov

Edmonton monument glorifies Nazi collaborator

Access Television: Media for the People

055

Once upon a time, Alberta’s cable channels and airwaves were considered a public good, worthy of a non-commercial educational broadcaster: Access Television. Team Advantage explores the history, ambitions, and legacy of this effort to build public, commercial-free and education-oriented programming, as well as the role of privatization in its eventual demise.

Health Services Review Pitches Privatization, Attacks Workers

054

After cutting healthcare expenditures by 17% over four years, Jason Kenney’s UCP government spent $2 million for a review of Alberta Health Services. The review found very little in terms of major cost savings. The review’s recommendations, however, propose an attack on the unionized workers that perform vital duties within Alberta’s health care system, eroding pay, working conditions, and union presence at AHS sites. It also provides a justification for increased privatization of the workforce, AHS facilities, and surgeries. Alison McIntosh, research manager at the Parkland Institute, joins Team Advantage to discuss the implications of the review.

Follow Alison on twitter @McIn_Ali, and follow the Parkland Institute @ParklandInst.

Read Alison’s analysis of the Ernst & Young AHS Review here:
https://www.parklandinstitute.ca/review_of_ahs_a_pro_privatization_attack_on_workers

“Balance” in Climate Change, Cursive Writing: Alberta’s Curriculum Review

053

Scrapping the previous NDP government’s comprehensive curriculum review, Jason Kenney pledged to “get politics out of the classroom.” The newly-formed Curriculum Advisory Panel, which does not include anyone who has taught in a classroom for the last 20 years, came up with some suggestions: provide “balance” when teaching lessons about climate change, and teach cursive writing. Barbara Silva, communications director of Support Our Students, joins Team Advantage to talk about the state of the curriculum rewrite, and public education more broadly, in Alberta.

Check out Support Our Students at supportourstudents.ca

Public Ownership in Canada: Linda McQuaig

052

Nowadays, a “public enterprise” means the government bought a leaky pipeline— but public enterprises have a long and successful history in Canada, providing services and public goods that private actors in the market economy could never muster. Journalist and author Linda McQuaig joins Team Advantage to discuss her latest book, The Sport & Prey of Capitalists: How the Rich Are Stealing Canada’s Public Wealth. Discover how the Trudeau Liberals’ Infrastructure Bank is a giant handout to BlackRock! Unearth the history of Canadian National, Canada’s public railway, and its role in shaping radio broadcasts and the CBC! Gasp in shock as you learn that a wildly popular public Postal Office Savings Bank existed in Canada until 1968, when Canada’s big private banks lobbied to undermine it!

Follow Linda McQuaig on Twitter @LindaMcQuaig and check out her book at lindamcquaig.com.

MINI-EP: Managing Universities to Death: Cuts and “Performance Measures”

022

Kenney’s UCP government recently announced a new funding model for post-secondary education: 40% of institutional funding will now depend on performance measures, such as graduate employment rates, median graduate income, provisioning skills to labour markets, and sponsored research revenues. While this is a dream for auditors and management consultants, this new bureaucracy threatens the integrity of Alberta’s universities and colleges, and risks phasing out innovative new research. University of Regina professor Dr. Marc Spooner joins Team Advantage to discuss the implications of this new funding model.

Follow Marc on Twitter: https://twitter.com/drmarcspooner/

Read Dr. Spooner’s piece in the CAUT Education Review, Performance-Based Funding in Higher Education: https://www.caut.ca/sites/default/files/caut-education-review-performance-based_funding_in_higher_education.pdf

Read Dr. Spooner’s opinion piece in the Calgary Herald: https://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-why-performance-based-funding-for-universities-is-not-the-answer

Continue reading