Eating NAFTA : trade, food policies, and the destruction of Mexico

/ Alyshia Gálvez. Oakland : University of California Press, 2018. xviii, 270 pages.

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Mexican cuisine has emerged as a paradox of globalization. Food enthusiasts throughout the world celebrate the humble taco at the same time that Mexicans are eating fewer tortillas and more processed food. Today Mexico is experiencing an epidemic of diet-related chronic illness. The precipitous rise of obesity and diabetes—attributed to changes in the Mexican diet—has resulted in a public health emergency.

In her gripping new book, Alyshia Gálvez exposes how changes in policy following NAFTA have fundamentally altered one of the most basic elements of life in Mexico—sustenance. Mexicans are faced with a food system that favors food security over subsistence agriculture, development over sustainability, market participation over social welfare, and ideologies of self-care over public health. Trade agreements negotiated to improve lives have resulted in unintended consequences for people’s everyday lives.

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Ralph vs. Rachel : a tale of two Alberta premiers

/ Mark Milke ; foreword by Preston Manning. Place of publication not identified : Thomas & Black Publishing, 2018. xviii, 177 pages.

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Albertans elected two starkly unique premiers in the past 25 years. The first was Ralph Klein, a high-school dropout who, as premier, cut government spending, and taxes, and saw his popularity soar. Klein was a hard-drinking, reforming politician far more comfortable with blue-collar Albertans than bluebloods. He never lost an election and was known simply as “Ralph”.

Another premier, Rachel Notley, defied expectations and in 2015 broke up the 44-year Conservative government dynasty. Notley, presiding over Alberta’s first NDP government, soon wrenched the province in a radically new direction: with higher taxes, green-friendly policy, and activist government. The new premier entered office just as oil prices plunged, as did her chance at a balanced budget.

In Ralph vs. Rachel, Mark Milke dives into the history of both premiers. He describes how both entered office in similar fiscal crises and what that meant for unemployment lines, careers, and Albertans. In a contrarian take, Milke argues that Notley was delivered a bad hand from the start and that Klein saved health care and education, protected the Heritage Fund, and rescued Canada’s unemployed from coast to coast – and few of Klein’s successes were due to luck.

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Women in parliament in 2018.

Geneva : Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2019. Annual.

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The annual report provides an update and analysis of progress made and setbacks encountered by women in parliament further to elections and renewals held over a year. Produced every year on the occasion of International Women's Day (8 March), it presents data on women in national parliaments, regional and world trends, information on women presiding officers and women candidates. It also analyses mechanisms aimed at supporting women's access to parliament. The report is short and easy to read, providing a snapshot on the situation of women in parliaments worldwide.

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Power, prime ministers and the press : the battle for truth on Parliament Hill

/ Robert Lewis. Toronto : Dundurn, 2018. 375 pages.

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The history of the press gallery is rich in anecdotes about the people on Parliament Hill who have covered 23 prime ministers and 42 elections in the past 150 years.

Mining the archives and his own interviews, Robert Lewis turns the spotlight on the watchers, including reporters who got too close to power and others who kept their distance.

The Riel Rebellion, the Pacific Scandal, two world wars, the Depression, women's liberation, Quebec separatism, and terrorism are all part of the sweeping background to this lively account of how the news gets made, manipulated, and, sometimes mangled. Since Watergate, press gallery coverage has become more confrontational — a fact, Lewis argues, that fails Canadian democracy.

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The age of increasing inequality : the astonishing rise of Canada's 1%

/ Lars Osberg. Toronto : James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2018. 224 pages.

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Canada is in a new era. For 35 years, the country has become vastly wealthier, but most people have not. For the top 1%, and even more for the top 0.1%, the last 35 years have been a bonanza. Canadians know very well that there's a huge problem. It's expressed in resistance to tax increases, concerns over unaffordable housing, demands for higher minimum wages, and pressure for action on the lack of good full time jobs for new graduates. This book documents the dramatic and rapid growth in inequality. It identifies the causes. And it proposes meaningful steps to halt and reverse this dangerous trend. Lars Osberg looks separately at the top, middle and bottom of Canadian incomes. He provides new data which will surprise, even shock, many readers. He explains how trade deals have contributed to putting a lid on incomes for workers. The gradual decline of unions in the private sector has also been a factor. On the other end of the scale, he explains the growing high salaries for corporate executives, managers, and some fortunate professionals. Lars Osberg believes that increasing inequality is bad for the country, and its unfairness is toxic to public life. But there is nothing inevitable about this, and he points to innovative measures that would produce a fairer distribution of wealth among all Canadians.

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Beyond bioethics : toward a new biopolitics

/ edited by Osagie K. Obasogie and Marcy Darnovsky ; foreword by Troy Duster ; afterword by Patricia J. Williams.
Oakland : University of California Press, 2018. xxvii, 518 pages.

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For decades, the field of bioethics has shaped the way we think about ethical problems in science, technology, and medicine. But its traditional emphasis on individual interests such as doctor-patient relationships, informed consent, and personal autonomy is minimally helpful in confronting the social and political challenges posed by new human biotechnologies such as assisted reproduction, human genetic modification, and DNA forensics. Beyond Bioethics addresses these provocative issues from an emerging standpoint that is attentive to race, gender, class, disability, privacy, and notions of democracy—a "new biopolitics."

This authoritative volume provides an overview for those grappling with the profound dilemmas posed by these developments. It brings together the work of cutting-edge thinkers from diverse fields of study and public engagement, all of them committed to this new perspective grounded in social justice and public interest values.

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Lobbying : the dark side of politics

/ Wyn Grant.
Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2018. 95 pages.

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Is lobbying, particularly by 'lobbyists for hire', resulting in a distortion of the democratic process? Does business, with its highly sophisticated and well-resourced lobbying operations, have an undue influence on decisions by politicians?

The book assess the impact of lobbying on the UK political system, the extent to which it shapes the political decision-making process and the extent to which this influence is beneficial or malign. The book outlines various lobbying groups and their methods of persuasion, plus the weakness of political action groups and social media when faced with the might of the lobbying industry.

The book is ideal reading for anyone seeking an introduction to lobbying.

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How to lie with maps

/ Mark Monmonier.
Third edition. Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 2018. ix, 231 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates.

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An instant classic when first published in 1991, How to Lie with Maps revealed how the choices mapmakers make—consciously or unconsciously—mean that every map inevitably presents only one of many possible stories about the places it depicts. The principles Mark Monmonier outlined back then remain true today, despite significant technological changes in the making and use of maps. The introduction and spread of digital maps and mapping software, however, have added new wrinkles to the ever-evolving landscape of modern mapmaking.

Fully updated for the digital age, this new edition of How to Lie with Maps examines the myriad ways that technology offers new opportunities for cartographic mischief, deception, and propaganda. While retaining the same brevity, range, and humor as its predecessors, this third edition includes significant updates throughout as well as new chapters on image maps, prohibitive cartography, and online maps. It also includes an expanded section of color images and an updated list of sources for further reading.

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Colonial lives of property : law, land, and racial regimes of ownership

/ Brenna Bhandar.
Durham : Duke University Press, 2018. xi, 265 pages.

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In Colonial Lives of Property Brenna Bhandar examines how modern property law contributes to the formation of racial subjects in settler colonies and to the development of racial capitalism. Examining both historical cases and ongoing processes of settler colonialism in Canada, Australia, and Israel and Palestine, Bhandar shows how the colonial appropriation of indigenous lands depends upon ideologies of European racial superiority as well as upon legal narratives that equate civilized life with English concepts of property. In this way, property law legitimates and rationalizes settler colonial practices while it racializes those deemed unfit to own property. The solution to these enduring racial and economic inequities, Bhandar demonstrates, requires developing a new political imaginary of property in which freedom is connected to shared practices of use and community rather than individual possession.

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Is Nutrition North Canada on shifting ground? : a Food Banks Canada report

/ Shawn Pegg.
Mississauga : Food Banks Canada, 2016. 11 pages.

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The Food Mail program, which was replaced by Nutrition North Canada, helped to create a grocery retailing environment in the north that was markedly different from what exists in the south. One of the most striking differences was the fact that, to participate in Food Mail, retailers and manufacturers were forced to give up control of their product to Canada Post between southern shipping points and northern retail locations. This arrangement was arguably at the root of many of the program’s problems, including major issues with food spoilage.

Nutrition North Canada addresses this shortcoming by allowing retailers and manufacturers to maintain control of their product along the retail chain. However, Nutrition North Canada has been unable to address another of the main issues northerners expressed about Food Mail: the inability to know with certainty that the federal government subsidy provided to northern retailers is being passed on to consumers. The Auditor General of Canada demonstrated that this remains unknown, while holding that it is at least knowable – a contention with which the current paper disagrees.

We make the case that Nutrition North Canada is a simple subsidy for northern retailers that has been built on a flawed, overly-ambitious policy rationale. If the program is to continue in its current form, it can and should be grounded in a more realistic and comprehensive policy and program approach to the price of food in the north.


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