In the pilot episode of the Courage My Friends podcast, we feature a conversation with Ed Broadbent former leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and Chair of the Broadbent Institute, and Kofi Hope, thought leader, Toronto Star columnist and CEO of Monumental. They discuss this current crisis that reveals, even as it accelerates, deepening fractures within our societies.
Looking at the extraordinary crisis facing Canada and the rest of the world over the last year, Broadbent and Hope focus on the disproportionate and devastating impacts it has had on our most marginalized members -- low-income, largely Black and Brown communities, who also make up the majority of those in front-line, insecure and precarious jobs that this pandemic has made both essential and deadly.
However, where inequality may have been amplified by Covid-19, it certainly didn’t start here. From employment protections to vaccine roll-outs, we discuss how current inequalities and political responses are connected to “bad policies” rooted in old systems. Systems shaped by four decades of neoliberal capitalism. As Broadbent says, "Covid came along just at the moment that the intellectual bankruptcy of neoliberalism was being revealed."
Did four decades of neoliberal erosion of social welfare set us on a course of disaster? Has an economic and social ideology trumpeting unfettered profit, deregulated markets and competitive individualism torn away at the social fabric and resiliency that would have enabled us to better withstand the shock of this pandemic?
As Hopes states, "equity, the idea that we have to focus on the vulnerable… it’s not enough to talk about it and to have empathy. This is where structure and systems and power actually need to change, if we’re actually going to see different outcomes moving forward."
If the remedy to what Oxfam International has dubbed "The Inequality Virus" lies within equity and equality, how do we make this core to our policy, practice and political instinct?
According to our guests, perhaps the answer lies in the vision set out by the Broadbent Principles for Canadian Social Democracy and in what Hope describes as the social power found within our communities and within ourselves.
If COVID-19 was the trigger for a disaster waiting to happen, is it also a chance for us to redeem ourselves by building communities and nations that honour the rights and dignity of all.
Host and co-producer Resh Budhu of the Tommy Douglas Institute at George Brown College in Toronto starts by asking about our guests' initial thoughts on these unprecedented times and the convergence of Covid, Capitalism and Climate.
About today's guests:
Kofi Hope is a Rhodes Scholar and has a Doctorate in Politics from Oxford University. He is the co-founder and CEO of Monumental, a new start-up focused on supporting organizations work towards an equitable recovery from COVID-19. Currently he writes a monthly opinion column for the Toronto Star newspaper and is an emeritus Bousfield Scholar and current adjunct professorat UofT’s School of Geography and Planning. He also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Wellesley Institute and is a board member at the Atkinson Foundation. In 2017 he was winner of the Jane Jacobs Prize and in 2018 a Rising Star in Toronto Life’s Power List. Kofi was the founder and former Executive Director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals. In 2005 he established the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, which became a leading voice for advocating for real solutions to gun violence in Toronto and led to him being named one of the Top 10 People to Watch in Toronto in 2006 by the Toronto Star.
Ed Broadbent was first elected to Parliament in 1968, and served as an MP for 21 years, 14 of which were spent as leader of the New Democratic Party. His concern for the deepening of inequality in Canada has been a consistent theme in all of his professional and volunteer endeavours. First elected to Parliament in 1968, Ed served as an MP for 21 years, 14 of which were spent as leader of the New Democratic Party. During his time in Ottawa, his focus was on Aboriginal and economic rights, women’s equality, child poverty, ethics in government, and tax equality. The founding president of Rights & Democracy, Ed has a Ph.D. in Political Theory and has taught at several prestigious universities. He has been invested as a Member of the Privy Council (1982), Officer of the Order of Canada (1993), and Companion of the Order of Canada (2002).
Transcript of this episode can be accessed at georgebrown.ca/TommyDouglasInstitute
Images: Ed Broadbent and Kofi Hope. Used with Permission
Music: Ang Kahora. Lynne, Bjorn. Rights Purchased
Intro Voices: Chandra Budhu (General Intro./Outro.), Miriam Roopanram, Sharon Russell Julian Wee Tom (Street Voices); Bob Luker (Tommy Douglas quote)
Courage My Friends Podcast Organizing Committee: Resh Budhu, Victoria Fenner (for rabble.ca), Ashley Booth, Chandra Budhu, John Caffery, Michael Long
Produced by Resh Budhu, Tommy Douglas Institute and Victoria Fenner, rabble.ca
Host: Resh Budhu
A co-production of the Tommy Douglas Institute, George Brown College, Toronto, and rabble.ca with the support of the Douglas Coldwell Foundation.
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