A Defense of
And other non-globalized
places, people and ideas
Edited and with an
introduction by Stan Persky
New Star Books,
"In the early 1980s, after fifteen years of publishing reasonably
subtle and technically elaborate lyric poems in magazines and books
that no one read, I woke up one morning to the unpleasant recognition
that publishing my lyric poetry in the late twentieth century was
equivalent to playing with my penis on a busy street corner-and having
everyone ignore me.
The insight was humiliating enough that I decided to stop publishing my
verse and to stop giving public readings of it." Thus, Toronto author
Brian Fawcett on the fateful decision two decades ago that has led him
to create over the ensuing two decades a body of thoughtful,
provocative essays and longer experimental narratives. Local Matters is
the latest addition to that body; Canadian fans of lucid prose and
muscular thought have one more reason now to be glad for that early
80's moment of lyric renunciation.
Fawcett is one of the best minds at work in English language prose in
Canada today, and this latest collection of his essays is one more
proof of his claim to that title. He has the intellectual courage to
take on a wide range of topics, from traffic calming experiments in his
Toronto neighborhood to the purpose of paranoia to the late novels and
parenting style of Mordecai Richler to what Marshall McLuhan got wrong
and right in his pivotal works on media.
But Fawcett is not merely courageous. He is artful. He crafts his
essays through a long and laborious process of polish and re-write, a
process that delivers a smooth and relaxed prose style that is capable
of rendering sophisticated thought without lapsing into the
convolutions and academic jargon that too often cluster around any
attempt at serious intellectual work in print. His tone is deceptively
conversational; a Fawcett essay gives the reader the impression she has
wandered into a writer's café and had a coffee and chat with one
of its resident intellectuals.
The coffee house reference is neither accidental nor
inappropriate. The Dooney's Café of the book's subtitle is the
local coffee bar in the author's neighborhood, his working space away
from home, and the epicentre of a storm of local protest Fawcett helped
promote when Starbuck's threatened to shut the local hangout down to
make space for one more of the coffee giant's irritating caffeine
Dooney's Café is also the sponsor of a web-based news service
(www.dooneyscafe.com) Fawcett has been operating now for several years,
and where many of the essays in the current volume was first published.
(Full disclosure: I have known Fawcett on and off for several decades,
and the editor of this book, Stan Persky, is an old friend. I have
occasionally published material on dooneyscafe.com myself.)
Whether at a coffee house table, on the page or in cyber space, Fawcett
is a fierce partisan of the local and specific in opposition to the
global and generic, whether the topic is politics, art or coffee.
Thanks to that passion, and to his well honed prose style, the volume
in hand reads like a delightful record of a visit to a genuine,
pre-franchise bohemian coffee shop where oppositional politics
and critical thought are valued, cant and sloppy thinking disparaged,
good sense and cosmopolitan intelligence promoted and knee-jerk
responses of all kinds are subjected to a caustic approach as strong
and bitter as good espresso. In an era when even the subversive
intellectual tradition of the coffee house has been branded and turned
into a global commodity outlet, a book like this that offers detailed
and eloquent defense of the singular virtues of the local neighborhood,
bar and perspective is welcome indeed.
CEO for Canada
James Lorimer & Co.
the Liberals, both provincially and federally, are marred in scandal,
and as a federal election draws nearer, it might be a good time to pick
up a copy of Murray Dobbin’s hard-hitting book Paul Martin: CEO of
The Vancouver-based journalist, researcher and author of several
bestseller books, released this work last fall—before Prime Minister
Martin’s ascension to the leadership throne and the current waves of
scandals that have followed.
The book covers much of Martin’s professional career and his climb to
power—in the corporate world and in government. From Martin’s first
parliamentary address as finance minister, with his prophetic quote
“screw the Red Book” and literally negating the Liberals’ 1993 election
promises, to the back room maneuvers of his trying to quietly keep
control of Canadian Steamship Lines (its ships registered under foreign
flags of convenience), this book shows that Martin is no stranger to
scandals and “not knowing” about things he was involved with or
“Paul Martin put his personal stamp on the Liberal government in such a
decisive matter that it is only a slight exaggeration to say that he
has already been Prime Minister,” Dobbin writes boldly in the book’s
introduction. This provides an eerie prelude to what is an
astonishingly thorough review of the federal Liberal regime in the last
ten years and Martin’s role in calling the shots.
The book details the policy development of the government in its first
term, how tax dollars were allocated, and who in Canada gained as a
result—and who lost. Dobbin strongly argues that working class
Canadians have largely been taken for a ride while a wealthy elite—much
of which has ties to the Liberal Party—has prospered greatly.
The factual information Dobbin provides is more than convincing. For
example, it quotes Martin in 1997, still finance minister, boasting to
corporate leaders that federal government spending had reached its
“lowest levels since 1951.” Most of this reduction is accounted by over
$97 Billion a year taken out of public infrastructure, job creation and
social security. Meanwhile, tax handouts to Corporate Canada have
But what’s even more compelling about this book, given the scandals in
Ottawa, is its detailed accounting of the back-room power moves of what
is likely Canada’s most influential federal politician in a decade.
Global Profit and Global Justice
Using Your Money to
Change the World
New Society Publishers
social justice ever be measured in terms of money? Does doing business
automatically mean undermining liberty and health? Is the socialistic
ideal of the common layperson having a real democratic say in managing
businesses and capital actually possible?
All this is possible if the information presented in this new book is
any indication. Global Profit and Global Justice analyzes numerous
practical approaches to changing our economy and society for the better
by using investment capital.
One common complaint about books on progressive economic change is that
they are long on theory and rhetoric and short on practical examples
and successes. Not this one. Its focus is clearly to report on a
variety of successful practical initiatives by real people and
organizations and discusses developing strategies for affecting change.
From socially responsible investment, teaching union pension trustees
to take an active role in setting investment guidelines for their plans
and community business to ethical consumer spending, shareholder
activism and working with managers to adopt socially responsible
practices, this book is a battery of information on how to put social
and democratic values into the economic process.
Deb Abbey, entrepreneur, social worker and the book’s author, is one of
the leading experts on shareholder activism and socially responsible
investment in Canada. She, along with her husband and investment
consultant Perry Abbey, recently co-founded Real Assets, which invests
shares in various corporations and puts forward resolutions at their
While its focus is to improve labour standards, environmental health
and human rights through influencing corporate behaviour, Real Assets
is mainly dedicated to ensuring a competitive rate of return for its
One of the main points of Global Profit and Global Justice is that it
puts to rest the widespread belief among both business and activist
circles that these measures compromise rates of return on investment.
In fact, it reports that rates of return are comparable and, in some
cases, even better than standard investment returns.
Global Profit and Global Justice shows that real practical change is
possible at a business level. This is a must-read, both for activists
dealing with globalization issues and corporate responsibility and for
anyone interested in getting more control over their investments and
how the money is used.