Sept. 30: John Restakis and co-ops for social and economic transformation; Peter Cameron and the Ontario co-op movement

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Listen to entire program here: 

John Restakis @ 3:50

CD: Ry Cooder @ 33:31

Peter Cameron @ 36:50

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In less than a week we’ll have a new provincial government – well maybe the old one with a new mandate. Election campaigns are staged affairs becoming known more for what people and candidates can’t talk about. An approved discourse  seems to always run along the lines of tax cuts and the promise of jobs. Take a look at the 2011 election debates – prearranged questions take precedence over any real discussion of alternatives. The media plays a big role in deciding who can participate. On top of this if candidates don’t like a particular issue, well, they just don’t show up to the debate. The economy is key with everything rooted in it. While everyone talks about political democracy – arguably something we don’t have – what about economic democracy?

Photo Credit: Frank Gunn, The Canadian Press: Where is everybody else? (Click image to go to article)

What say do workers have in what work is available, who’s going to do it and for what wage. For example, what wages, benefits and pensions do workers expect at the Samsung plant? Why do we leave matters like this to the managerial class and their political allies? Why can’t workers identify our needs and then organize ourselves to meet them? Last week we talked about corporations and their role in the economy. When was the last time we voted for a CEO? There’s elections we should be having. But what if we could vote ourselves into economic management? Would we want to? John Restakis is the Executive Director of the British Columbia Co-operative Federation and writes and speaks about economic democracy. He has a new book out : Humanizing the Economy: Co-Operatives in the Age of Capital. Instead of election debates being around the mechanics of the existing economic model, what alternatives are there we could explore? 

Peter Cameron, Co-Op Development Manager with the Ontario Co-Operative Association in Guelph, also spoke about the role of co-ops in society and the transformational role they can play in democratizing the economy. His organization advocates for better government relations with the co-op movement to further help people use a co-op model, and also recognizes the huge challenge such lobbying has with governments which are deeply connected with the current economic status quo. ( See: A White Paper on Co-Operative Development in Ontario)  

Another intriguing aspect of the co-op movement is social co-ops, pioneered in Italy according to John Restakis, which we only briefly touched on. You can read more on that here

Our greatest challenge today is how to create and maintain local economies in a global order that requires the subjugation of local economies.

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