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Bill Moore-Kilgannon Interview Transcript

Sept. 22
Bill Moore-Kilgannon
Executive Director
Parkland Institute
Faculty of Arts Ė University of Alberta
11045 Saskatchewan Dr.
Edmonton, AB. T6G 2E1
W Ė 780-492-0417
Fax Ė 780-492-8738
H Ė 780-424-0915
Email Ė

Dave Beckwith

The tag line that Iíve been using is that weíre collecting stories of organizers and activists in Canada, Australia, and the United States. Somebody said, oh, youíre talking with troublemakers! You know, itís close. The purpose is to advance organizing, in Canada and the United States and Australia. If there are things that people can do together thatís great. Even to do better where they are. So you can start if you want with what you do, you can start with why do you do it, you can start with kind of how did you get started, wherever,

Bill Moore Ė Kilgannon

Well, Iíve been the executive director of Parkman Institute for the last three years and before that I was on the founding board of directors, in my capacity as coordinator of a resource center on global justice issues here in Edmonton called the originally, the Edmonton cross-cultural learnerís Center, and now we changed the name to the Center for International Alternatives, which was a little joke because our acronym was the CIA in Edmonton, so.

That works, the CIA,

You know we do get the same pay scale! But so my background is actually more in international relations, Latin America is my major focus, Central America in particular. I was very involved in the 80ís in the solidarity movement in Nicaragua, and made my first documentary film when my wife and I went on our honeymoon. We were 8 months in Central America on our honeymoon, and you canít honeymoon all the time! So, we made a film in the midst of that, we were in Nicaragua in the end of 1988, and the beginning of 89, and put together a documentary film about teenagers in Nicaragua, the impact of war, whatís happening. So, I didnít have a clue what I was doing, we just sort of did it, and got it back here and that got very involved in the solidarity movement back in Canada. We brought one of the teenagers that was in my documentary film to Canada and did a two and a half month tour across Canada, speaking in high-schools, media, showing the video everywhere, up in the Yukon, to New Brunswick. It was kind of through that that I got really involved in the international social justice stuff. I then got involved in the learnerís center and was hired to coordinate the global visions festival which is called the third world films festival and we for years were very involved in all kinds of activism. In fact it was a real center for activism, had a huge library, it had all sorts of programs with the labor community, with the womenís community, with the student movement, involved in all sorts of organizing protests and things. As well as our front line educational projects, we were coordinating tours, social justice tours, around the world, coordinating 7 of those, a couple to Nicaragua, one to Brazil, one to Eritrea, labor tours to Mexico, labor activists from across Canada. So my background up until I started with the Parkman Institute was all focused on international relations and social justice issues. Although I did do a fair amount of work around Aboriginal issues in Canada, certainly a lot of issues around the Cree, and when the Oka crisis was happening in Canada, I was quite involved in helping raise public issues around those issues, coordinating demonstrations and such around the campaigns and stuff like that. They get jumpy when you walk into traffic, particularly me being a kid from across the tracks. We didnít completely block it, we let cars through, but, shall we put it, it was going slow. So, thatís my background and because of I guess, partially too cause Iím fluent in French and work in Spanish, I was, got quite active on the communications side of things and when the Parkland Institute was being founded by Dr. Gordon Laxer, who was the driving force behind establishing the Institute and getting it going and establishing the connections here with the University. I donít know if youíve read any of his books, but heís got a number of books out, Canada for Sale, his brother James Laxer, is quite well known for running for leadership of the New Democrats in the early 70ís as part of the Waffle movement in Canada.

Whatís the Waffle movement?

The Waffle movement in, the late 60ís and 70ís was a huge student movement on the left, actually I shouldnít just characterize it as just student, it was a real, forceful, well organized movement on the left that tried to push the New Democratic Party to be more left and Jim Laxer was the candidate for leader. Heís been the coordinator of that core intellectual left, what theyíre called, just read his book The Undeclared War, a classic on the modern age of cyber capitalism. A fascinating book. So his brother is, well the founder of Parkland institute, heís a tenured professor here at the U of A, and cross-posted between sociology and political science, an economist. He brought in people like myself who were very tied in to sort of community activism work, folks in the labor movement, the teachers association, the nurses and the top progressive academics. You know, they had written a book called the Trojan Horses. The Trojan Horse was in essence the precursor to the Parkland institute; itís a collection of chapters from various progressive academics in Alberta. And out of that book they had a variety of forums and they began talking about the need for an institute in Alberta that could carry the work forward, you know, extend the communications outreach of the time, and coordinate, you know, academic research projects, so it was, 4 years ago now that we first opened up our office in the house just south of us here. We didnít have any money really, to start with. The university had agreed to establish the institute and to house us, give us free room and board, and the faculty of arts that weíre under also provides 16,000 a year for the first 3 years and then at the end of 3 years the plan was we had to be financially independent. So we had to have

Selling flowers,

Whatever! They also created 2 other institutes at the time, there were 3 institutes, one other one was an economic institute. But because Parkland was really rooted in community and really had the support and the time was very right for the institute we were able to really connect well with the community organizations and begin to build a base of support. We also saw that there was no big sugar daddy in Alberta that was going to fund an institute like this. There are in other parts of Canada, fairly wealthy people, fairly wealthy organizations that back institutes, but we didnít have any in Alberta, so it was a bit of a struggle as to exactly how we were going to build up a real institute with a financial base. But we focused on our individual members and that was a really good strategy, because now we have like over 1100 members, and continuing to grow. The membership for us isnít just fundraising, I mean, for me the membership structure is extremely important because what it does is it provides an instant base of communications out and communications in from the membership. So itsí over Alberta, the membership is academic, itís community based, itís, a lot of seniors, a lot of young activists are very involved in the institute.

So what are the, what is the membership situation, I mean, is there a particular cost or is it, you know,

Itís 40 dollars for a regular member or 15 for low income and weíve been pushing our sponsor membership rate, which is 10 dollars a month, automatically withdrawn from your account, or 100 a year. Because weíre a part of the University, if you donate money to the University of Alberta you get a tax receipt, so anyone who donates money to the Parkland Institute gets a tax receipt. So anything over 20 dollars anything is a tax-deductible donation. So we had quite a few people who are donating, we get more money in donations than we get in membership. So from our membership base that gives us about a third of our overall budget, the other third comes from our institutional members and the other third comes from our various programs and book sales.

You say, institutional members, what are those?

Anything from the Alberta teacherís association, is a sponsoring member, the federation of labor, some of the unions, we have some businesses that are official members, and so itís organizational.

Does that have a level of funding attached to it, or is it,

We have a size, our brochure even, here itís 50 dollars for a small, 250 for a medium and 500 for a large, if theyíre going to be a sponsor, thatís converted to a monthly thing. So thatís the difference between a regular member and a sponsor member. Sponsor members get all of our publications for free, our books, our reports, and otherwise just regular members get discounts on those things. So, itís been itís been a real struggle.

And youíve been here from the beginning?

Iíve been here from the beginning; I was on the board, as I said, initially, and my role on the board at first was coordinating the communications committee. Thereís two main committees that are on the board, on the executive, is the research committee and the communications committee. And so I was coordinator of the communications committee when we came out with our first book, which was Shredding the Public Interest. And thatís how we launched the institute in essence, we didnít announced that the institute existed until we launched Shredding the public interest, it was 4 months of getting organized, getting all of our stuff pulled together, you know, hiring office clerks, and staff, and when we launched shredding the public interest it was a huge, huge success. Iíll always remember, standing outside that press conference room about 10 minutes before and there was no press there and Gordon came up to me and said, whatís going on? Whatís happening? Oh, the press is always late! And 10 minutes later came back into the room and the place was absolutely packed, you know not an exaggeration. And we launched that written by Kevin Taft, a brilliant writer and communicator, and an extremely powerful book, and he was just finishing off his Ph.D. in business at the time and he worked for years for the government, and this report that he had done a few years before. He had been working for the government at a very high level, pulling together a report on senior funding. And when Ralph Klein became premiere, through a leadership race, then he won, and Kevin resigned. Ralph Klein had Kevinís report shredded because, because the premiere didnít want the concept out there that Don Getty was being fiscally responsible. Ralph Klein took total communications control and he wanted to create the image that he was going to be the one and only to take control and that Don Getty was just a bumbling guy and out of control. But what Kevinís research had shown at the time, government research was that throughout the late 80ís there was very severe cuts made to seniors in all areas that was adding up to some severe difficulties for seniors. Corey didnít mind that there was severe difficulties for seniors, what he minded was the impression that Don Getty was actually on top of things financially. Because he was about to launch the crime revolution and he wanted that to happen. So his own government reported on it. So Kevin at that point said, whoa, we canít work with him, and he saw first hand the extent that communications controls. And itís a very powerful book, very well written. Ralph Klein set up a communications committee and everyone that was on that communications committee reports directly to him. So he has a person that sits on every cabinet committee and they are there in the communications committee, and they go back to the communications committee that Ralph Klein chairs. So in that way, Ralph Klein controls all communications coming out of the government, brilliantly. So that is a very big part of the book, looking at how Klein constructs and controls the issues that the government mentions. That book is the number one best seller in Alberta ever for a non-fiction book, 23,000 copies sold. It came out just before the last provincial election in January of 1997 and we had at least 3 or 4 letters to the editor every single day about that book. And then people credit the book with making it impossible for Ralph Klein to sweep 100% of the seats, the Leg stayed pretty much liberal, got a couple New Democrats.

Before I go back to your particular story, Iím interesting in this membership business, the institute having a broad base of members. How do you promote membership and whose job is it and how much time do they spend on it, and through building the base, making the base?

Well, the coordination of it is my job, but we have a very extensive board of directors so weíre very well connected. And we rely on them, as well as the active members in various sectors of society and different parts of the province to promote that. The approach that Iíve taken, really, rather than the straight charitable appeal, people want to see action, they want to see things happening, and one of my main ways of operating is energy creates energy. If youíre out there doing things, making things happen, people are going to take notice. And once people take notice of what youíre doing then theyíll want to jump on board. And so, we really are focusing then on the vision of where weíre going as an organization and putting that out there all the time. So when we send out a letter to our members and are getting new people to sign up, you can say weíre doing organizing. We send them lots of information, a Parkland post, this one that weíre sending out to all the academics, well, not all the academics in Alberta, but all the ones that are in social sciences and education, and it includes an Alberta views magazine. Alberta Views is one of the big sponsors of Parkland institute and we have, if youíre a sponsor member Parkland you get an Alberta Views magazine subscription. Thatís one of our enticements to become a sponsor member. So itís a good cross promotion for us and Alberta Views. So there is the direct sending the letters out. And the, educational programs of Parkland are extremely important for attracting the numbers. Our annual conference each year, bringing in some high profile speakers, weíve had,

When is it?

In November every year. The first conference we had had John Ralston Saul. We had to open up another theatre and do a video connection because we had 700 people at that one. We had David Korton, Iím not sure if you know David Kortonís Corporations Rule the World, and then last year we had Dr. Vandana Shiva from India, the conference called Challenging the Present Position of Knowledge. And this year our conference is called building a post corporate society Ė a how to guide for citizens. And our keynote speaker is Tony Clarke. So we also had two spring forums that were more focused on particular policy issues. The first one was on the privatization of health care, which was one big big issue in Alberta and our keynote speaker for that was Ralph Nader. Lots of great speakers. And the next year we had a conference called poverty in its plenty, focusing on poverty issues in Alberta, and it was actually at the poverty in its plenty conference that premiere Klein tried, wrote a letter to the president of the University, Don Fraser, trying to get Parkland institute to shut down. Our key note speaker Armine Yalnizan wrote a great report on the growing gap between the rich and poor in Canada. We were having her speak to a rotary club, to the business community, and a reporter from the Edmonton journal was there. And she quoted in the paper on Friday morning at the beginning of our conference, the saying that you know, Albertans are uncaring, and Ralph Klein took great exception to this and it was just, it was just a little quote at the end of the article, but whoever wrote the headlines put this big, Toronto Economist Says Albertans are Uncaring, thatís the headline. What she actually said was, cause I was there when, she had just been in Calgary The night before doing a presentation and a lot of people who are in poverty in Calgary, this very very wealthy city, were saying like it feels like people donít care about them. So this, thatís how this whole thing got blown up,

This expert comes and says Albertans are uncaring, right?

No. She came to say this, she is dabbling in some real serious issues, excellent report on all this stuff. So, Klein faxed us the letter that he also faxed Fraser, at the same time, it was great, and we had just finished the first full day of the conference and I came back to the office and I walked into the office and I look and, oh, thereís a fax, I walk over and look at it and go, oh my goodness look at this! And we were having dinner with a bunch of our main speakers including Bill Phipps the moderator of the United Church of Canada, a couple of senators, I mean Gordon Laxer, we were all across the table. So I show up at this dinner and say, you guys gotta see this! Look what I found! The conference was happening still the next day. So we pulled a press conference at about 300 in the morning and had a press release and all that, and Lois Hole, she was the chancellor of the university, and Bill Phipps spoke out against it and a whole bunch of others, you know, I just lined them up. And the media just went wild, well, the headline Saturday morning, big headline, Ralph Klein attacks Parkland Institute. Sunday morning the big headline of the front page of the Edmonton Sun was Parkland Institute lashes back! You know! I mean, the whole week,

Good way to sell membership!

Yah! We went for a whole week in the media, just back and forth. They debated in the Leg for two days, it was just non stop and it turned into a thing about academic freedom and all the issues around poverty and you know, all the columnists wrote their stories on it, and I was just going flat out doing interviews and that, you know, just pelting the government. I mean, the government has so much money and so many experts on communication and I think that thatís what really drives everybody crazy is that here is an institute that is you know, very focused on doing quality research, that their communications people could usually just ignore. And a lot of research happens over here that is you know, looking at various policies and nobody ever hears about it. But the reality is that weíre taking this very good quality research, peer reviewed, the whole academic 9 yards and then weíre making it available to the public, and, in a way that people can really understand, and that challenges whatís going on. And the communications people have a really hard time battling. I can talk a bit about that and some of our research reports and what weíve done.

Iím just going to flip the tape, talking about that, letís finish the

question what do you do,

What do I do?

Well, you and the institute. Yah. But Iím going to stop the tape and flip it nowÖ

What do I do, Iíll give you a taste of what my life is like here, you canít see on the tape, but okay, each of those piles represents something that I actually have to get done like yesterday! So I can talk a bit about what my week has been like and that will give you a flavor of life as executive director here. Weíre in the midst of a, doing a mass distribution of our latest Parkland post, through academics around the province so I have to write a letter that accompanies a letter done by another academic, and you know, please join, we were involved in editing the Parkland post, and weíre putting on a concert in November, so Iím working with my graphic designer just this week on the final touches on the brochure, contacting speakers who Iíve e-mailed 4 or 5 times and who have yet to send me their bios and photos and all that stuff. Weíre hiring conference coordinator, administrator, so itís getting that out, lining up interviews for that position, short term position, too I have a board meeting next week.

How big is your board?


We have 20 people on our board, actually 21 with the permanent position, the university factory of arts has a permanent rep on our board. I sent out the agenda and everything to the board last night, I sent out and arranged for a steering committee for our conference next week, been doing a fair bit of work on our finances right now, trying to analyze, we know where we are, which is not that healthy, it never is.

How big is the budget?

Well this yearís budget is 220,000. And so trying to you know, each

month, basically, because weíre always on the edge, you know, thereís no cushion

there. And so, each month itís like, okay, how am I going to raise 20,000

dollars this month. And actually itís not so much that, eh, I know Iím going to

raise 20,000 dollars this month, what am I going to do in November, what am I

going to do in January, but, so thereís those aspects. I spent a lot

of time this week speaking with a few of our researchers who are doing an Alberta analysis, of the growing gap between rich and poor with the folks that did the growing gap study in Toronto. So weíre analyzing those things as far as getting materials to her, the study is a bit behind schedule so we had to shift some of her speaking series, for the launch date for that, speaking with Kevin Taft, he used to do research with us on various issues. Weíre going to be signing a contract with him in a week and a halfís time, to begin doing research on 2 projects, actually, well, one, one will be on EPCOR. So I was talking to him about where he is at with things and we were analyzing city budgets and things. Today, I did an interview with CJSR and the Gateway a student university campus newspaper this week, you can pick up a gateway and see my face in it, I think. That was because weíre organizing, well, weíve been involved in trying to get more activism happening on campus and there was a great core of students that want to establish a public interest research group. A PIRG. And weíve attempted in the past to get a PIRG going and so they came to me and said okay, how do we do it, actually it was something that when Ralph Nader was here I got a whole bunch of the activist students together and the student leadership, and had a meeting about PIRG and people got really excited about it. But it didnít happen. So, on Wednesday I had a meeting with these students and said, okay, well, youíre going to organize a PIRG, this is the work you gotta do and hereís the manual and this is how itís going to happen, and the campus media are interested in that. This morning I got off the phone talking to one of the main reporters over at the Edmonton Journal. He wrote a big article on what EPCOR is doing, the power company, and didnít mention the Parkland institutesí role in the city councilís decision to privatize the company, and so we talked to him about you know, did you have our study, Oh, certainly I knew about your study, and yes, I should have mentioned it, butÖ Planning our fourth anniversary open house barbecue that weíre having on Saturday and getting that out, getting invites out and so thatís whatís going on my desk! Weíre looking at our research agenda for next year, Iím trying to shift our planning much further in advance, trying to be much more proactive in our work, and pushing you know, where things should go and weíre laying plans out for the spring for sure because there is going to be a provincial election in the spring. So a lot of our research is going to be coming out. Weíre doing a book on the impact of globalization on rural communities. And that should be out we hope by before Christmas, weíll probably launch it in January. So weíre gonna be doing a speaking tour, sometime to lay the foundations for that.

Your mandate is Alberta wide.

Our mandate is issues that effect Albertans.


The main focus is the political economy of Alberta, but Alberta is very much, extremely tied with the global economy, oil issues, resource management, and because Alberta is the petri dish of the neoconservatives in Canada, weíve been tied in with challenging the whole paradigm of thinking that is neoconservatism and neoliberalism. Involved in a lot of those issues. We get a lot of phone calls on Stockwell Day and national organizations saying now, weíre gearing up for a federal election and, Who is this guy? Some of our posts have had articles on Stockwell Day, before he was leader of the alliance. So itís an amazing job, I love it, but itís also very stressful, always being on the edge financially and sort of, just so much of a load and so much expectations and not enough resources. Thereís only an office manager, Sherry does an amazing job and myself as core staff, and now weíve hired Michael as the coordinator of the globalism project. But the globalism project, is funded by SSHRC and well it used Parkman Institutes theme as part of a process of getting that grant. Itís set up really independent of the institute and the 19 researchers in 4 Countries and theyíre graduate students and theyíre Ph.D. students, yet the bulk of the money, the largest grant is to the faculty of arts,1.4 million dollars. Itís a bit of a dilemma for me, actually, because everybody knows we got this huge grant, and so everybody says,

So you donít need my money?

Exactly. Iím like desperately trying to get the word out to everybody that this is the globalism grant, itís an amazing research project, top-notch researchers and what have you, but we donít get a dime. And in fact, if you look at the amount of time and effort weíve put into it, and the amount of time that Laxer put in to getting that grant, we paid him, well, we didnít pay him, he had a couple courses released at first released to be the director of Parkland institute. But for a year and half, all he did was write this grant proposal. And he is the reason we got ourselves a grant proposal.

So, can you say another word about what that project is,

So, itís called, in the best of academic terms, neoliberal globalism and its challengers, sustainability in the semi periphery and itís a 5 year research project funded through the multi collaborative research initiative, the MCRI, of the Social Services & Humanities

Research Council (SSHRC). Thereís 19 researchers, most of which are in Canada, but thereís 2 in Australia, 2 in Norway, and the rest of them, and thereís enough money to hire an administrator for the project, and the bulk of the money goes to post grad students. You know, some of the lead researchers, the 4 lead researchers on it are all very big names in Canada, Gordon Laxer who is the main person, Steven Clarkson, Jeannine Brodie who is the chair of our political science department here, and Marjorie Cohen. Those are the four main researchers. So theyíre just getting off the ground, thereís going to be 5 conferences planned, one each year and the last conference in the year 2005 will be a massive international conference here in Edmonton. That happens to be Albertaís 100th anniversary as well. And, the wrap up to that whole globalism issue,


Yah. And thereís some popular education stuff still in the grant. Radio series, a t.v. show possibly. But the core of it, they donít really have enough money to really do all those things yet, and so, itís gotta get going, the research has to begin, but the main focus is very similar to what youíre doing, how are people challenging the liberal ideology? With the view that a lot of the real challenge often comes from countries that are in the semi periphery. when you live in Washington or Ottawa you feel youíre in the center of power, you donít have a view of the world that allows you to think outside the margins, or see that there are other ways of doing things. And so outside those centers of power, are countries like Canada and Australia, and Norway and thereís a real critical battle thatís going on about what globalism means, where is this taking our country, what are we doing? And Canada as you know was very instrumental in challenging all that. Tony Clarke, absolutelyÖ at the international level in that battle as well as people like you know, Susan George, Martin Core people like that, are tied in to a new way of thinking, a new challenge.

Okay, weíve got a good idea of what you do and what the institute does. Why?

Why do we do it?

Why do you do it?

Thatís interesting. I guess, you know I, one night at about 1030 at night before a press conference, Kevin Taft and I were just going over the Final details of the press conference on the EPCOR issue and Kevin looked at me and said, you know Bill, if we were working for the side weíd be making a thousand a day doing this.


Because we know consultants that do this type of work get that kind of money to do communications and we do that stuff. And we just laughed and laughed and we said, maybe we should phone up the Royal Bank, because weíre going against the Royal Bank of Canada because they had done a half a million dollar study that told city council, sell EPCOR and sell it as fast as you can, it was 1.4, 1.8 billion dollar company, the largest municipal electrical company in Canada. And of course the Royal Bank was being involved in privatizing and going to promote the sale of EPCOR particularly if they were given the contract to sell the shares, I mean, that would be at a minimum worth 20 million bucks to them, right? Sort of 500,000 dollar study, paid for by the city of Edmonton, you know, hugely biased. And the councilors were buying it, you know there was a big study that says, well, the councilors were all like, letís sell the company and we came out with our 20,000 dollar study. And just blasted them out of the water, right? So, when youíre really sort of watching whatís going on and you see the extent to which the concentration of power is moving so rapidly, it just transforms the way in which our whole structure of society is working. You canít just sit back and say, oh, well, Iím going to join the other side, work for, because fundamentally, what is happening, unless itís challenged is that the way in which we come to understand the world is going to be so controlled that people wonít have any sense that thereís anything different. 50 years from now, when health care is completely privatized people wonít be going Oh, gee, I wish, I think it would be a good idea if we all had this. I mean, to the extent that, after the second world war, well even before then when there was this big movement towards building a society and nation building, the whole sense of how weíre all in this together, that, you know, that continued and was alive and created so much of what we have today in Canada and what we cherish in the way of our health care and our public education system, a decent infrastructure. But you know, after all my years of experience in central America, and seeing the extent to which a society can exist where people donít even imagine that they could have a real public health care system. You know, that, that they donít have any power what so ever that thereís almost a certain, overall acceptance of the oppression that exists in that political arena. Itís not big brother coming down on you, itís the vision of people buying into the whole thing and not even seeing outside the boundaries of what exists. So, Iím a student of history, thatís my academic background is history, so I see things not on a sort of day to day analysis of, this, the little battles of it, but I tend to look at things in generational terms. I think, if my kids grow up thinking they have no say in anything, I just really want to go out and get a good job, have some fun, go to a football game, and donít see that theyíre a part of they are actors in history, the reality of what they can participate in in this society and challenge, the question that lots of people sleeping on the streets of Edmonton, thereís all over the place, they are dying because of the cuts to health care. You know, the Albertans yanked tuition fees up faster than any province in Canada, we have the highest tuition fees, you know, for what? In a province that at the same time is the richest in Canada, and it could be much richer, actually, if we werenít giving away our oil reserves. We did a big study that compared the amount of money that comes in to provincial coffers from our oil and gas compared to Alaska and compared to Norway, as well the historical analysis, looking at how much money came in. And it was phenomenal what we found,

I'll remind you later to talk more about that, I'm interested in that as an example of doing the numbers and empowering the public policy conversation.

Right. So here's a very extensive study, you know, 80 pages, loaded with writing, charts, looks real solid, some of the brightest mindsÖ but it came down to this communications chart, and we had to give a summary, but it showed from 92-97, Alberta collected 21 and a half billion dollars for oil and gas. A royalty based structure. If we had collected, and this is in 1996 dollars, if we had collected at the rate that Lougheed collected for his time period, we averaged out what he had collected, as provincial premeire from 1971-80. So we averaged out we would have collected an additional 20 billion dollars in the 5 year time period if we had collected at the rate of Alaska, so this historical one there were different historical factors given. But the same time period for Alaska and Norway, the same oil companies, oil and gas, a somewhat different mixture of oil and gas relative to each other. Oil is a big thing in ALberta, a growing industry, but Norway has got the north sea oil. So there's production costs and all those terms. You know we would have collected an additional 12 billion dollars with the rate of Alaska and an additional 36 billion dollars with the rate of Norway.


Yah. The total net debt, at that time, you know, we just can't have this 12 billion dollars. So, Alberta had a heritage trust fund that was set up under Lougheed and in 1986 they stopped putting money into it and the government started taking revenues on all the investments from that 12 billion dollar fund that had been established by 1986, Alaska established a fund that's now up over 40 billion, Norway didn't start their fund until, Norway started their fund much later, it's at 29 billion and projected to go upwards, massively.

So the idea that there's scarcity is resources in dollars available for public purposes is just blown away by this, it's just silly, we can't afford something.

Yah. So the Klein revolution that got his picture on the face of Time magazine, that had him speaking in New York, that had him speaking all over the world, as the darling of neoconservatism, that trained Mike Harris what to do was basically moving fast as he can to not collect this money and to control communications. And that's what we went through from 92-96. And then things, and then they you know transformed the system so much, they had cut back the public sector so much, you know, teachers took a 5% percent cut in salary, all public services, thousands of people lost their jobs, they shut down hospitals, they they blew up a hospital in Calgary, downtown Calgary, you know, closed it down, as obselete, so they blew it up and now they wanted to set up private hospitals in Calgary. There's a doctor shortage, we have a huge nursing shortage in Alberta, you know, on and on and on.

But the money is there.

But the money is there and the money has always been there. And what this study shows was the whole lie around we need to do this. And it's extremely important to show the extent to which they're lying to us. And there, in Alberta it's really easy to. I mean, there's so much wealth, I mean what he's doing now before the election, he's throwing money everywhere. Look at the tax cuts here, we're all getting checks.

A check.

A check right before the election, I mean this is like old time politics, I mean, they're buying us off.

Let me flip the tapeÖ So, you know, we talked about why and I think you said at some level you see the history, I'll ask the why question one more time, there was a time when you looked at history and would have gone either way. I mean you didn't go to Nicaragua on you're honeymoon just because they had good rates for beach front property! So can you talk about when you saw the difference between a public life and private life and chose the public, when you saw the difference between working for justice and working for yourself and you chose justice?

When I first started university, I studied neuro-physiology. Itís a big social change arena,


I wanted to understand how the brain worked and that was a science, the knowledge of genetics. So I was fascinated by that. When I was 18 I went to Europe by myself for 5 months and traveled around, started to become more socially conscious at the time. I'm the youngest of 7 kids, and there was a lot of influence, my mother was very socially conscious.

Are they here?

They're spread all over the place,

Where did you grow up?

Here, third generation Edmontonian, which was rare, parents born here. My grandfather rode over on one of those boats, had a working class background, you know, worked in the mines, so thatís sort of there and my father was a carpenter here at the university on the day I was born actually 1963. So it was kind of like you know, and all his children went into education. My mother went on to get her masters degree. So I have that background, right, sort of growing up in this household full of ideas and my mother was very excited about ideas. We even lived in Toronto when I was in grade 6, my mother got her first masters degree in educational philosophy. So that was my background and then traveling around and seeing things after a few years of studying physiology, and so, yah. Then I moved back. But it was probably the sort of professors that I had, particularly in the mid 80's around who was just really solid on, you know, what was happening in the world, hardships, just opened up the mind, and it was right after university I got married and we went to Central America. So, I took to academic learning when I was young. There's a war going on, 40,000 people are being killed, and people in the United States are being completely fed a lie, and exploring what was really happening, talking to people and then wanting to get involved in the communications back of that. So it was just this transition where I was becoming more and more aware of what was going on and then to make it real, by real people's lives and seeing that these ideas had, you know, I mean that's in essence what it is all about, saying that ideas matter. At the Chicago school of economics, most people don't even know what they did, but they transformed the world. They're screwing it up big time for millions and millions of people, and to be able to connect the reality of lives to those ideas and those power centers and then to be able to understand how power works and how communications works, and you have, you have to do something. You know, the IMF, this ideology, it means real things, it means that this woman we interviewed, well I'm doing a documentary film again on Nicaragua, actually in the process of editing right now. We interviewed this woman who is an aunt of one of the main kids in our film. And her husband was in the hospital at the time. In Nicaragua they were talking about a 300 cordobas charge to stay in the hospital -- one time fee, just to go to the public hospital there. And he was already in the hospital and they were talking about applying it to him, and this was a family with nothing. I asked her, well what would you do you know, if they charged that amount, I'd have him come home and he would just die here. You know, she just looked... I said, okay.

Ideas in public policy matter.

Yah. In the part of the country that just recently signed these partial investment programs that are slashing health care and education services, starving the system on the public side, while health is a huge private industry in Nicaragua You know, the friend that I brought from Nicaragua, and traveled 2 and a half months across Canada, he has gastroenteritis right now, he needs 300 bucks to get this one test, it wasn't an operation even, it was just an analysis to see waht was going on in his guts, 300 bucks. An average teacher in Nicaragua is making 50 or 60 U.S. a month. So, it's like, they're dying all over the place, all over the world because of these policies and you know, to increase foreign trade. SO, my passion comes from my real experience in countries like Nicaragua and Guatemala. But the same debates are happening here and the same issues are happening here. Well, it's like being, you know like lobster in a pot, with the heat being turned up, and at some point it's going to get so hot that you're just going to have to, it's gone. And as things transform then you know, ten you see that in the way of moving down the road, and privatizing public companies. We see it in negotiations around the world trade organization, one of the huge hopes this year is the whole fight on internal services, the GATS. I mean the American position, which is around the world, is everything is a commodity. But, services should not be, that's not what private sector is. And so, social services, huge prisons, huge hospitals, we need education, there is no end to this, there really isn't an end. People live and we do have this shredded short of social service net, but when you come back from a country like Nicaragua where people just die because thereís no health care and because they starve to death, as they are to this day in Nicaragua, starving to death, everyone packed up and went home, but Nicaragua is not the poorest country in North America, and people are starving to death day and night, and thousands and thousands of people will starve in Nicaragua this year because of the drought.

What sustains you? What keeps you going, what keeps you getting out of bed in the morning?

[long pause] Itís kind of the reverse of what people have been saying for years there is no other alternative, but you know, then that approach, globalization is here, privatization ishere, itís gonna happen, thereís no other alternative. To me, there is no other alternative but getting involved, and to challenge it, and to bring forward some of the earthís perspective and, itís a huge challenge, trying to abstract 1000 dollars here or there. Itís wearing me down, thereís no question about it, but I donít see any other alternative but to be involved,

What charges you?

My kids.

7 year old twins.

7 year old twin boys, Iím beginning to coach their soccer team. Doing that stuff. My family and my fellow activists.

Whatís the circle, whoís the us?

Well, itís natural to include, you know, the board of directors, the various people that are really doing the work, the community organizations, people, being involved in Alberta for the last 3 years, so, cause we started meeting on Fridays to decide, what are we going to do about this rapidly increasing privatization of health care, and that includes really amazing seniors, that are retired but are doing fabulous research.

You donít slow down with these 90 year olds!

Exactly, and theyíre just so committed and you know, some are more excited and theyíre all into educational issues and what have you and donít have their heads up to really look at the broader picture and thereís reallyÖ And then the youth, that Iíve gotten to know a few youth that weíre profiling at our conference, the radical cheerleaders, and of course those folks that have put on a great counter conference to the world petroleum conference in Calgary that happened last summer. Amazing, they were there, no money, pure energy, right? Great media stuff, a great time. And a lot of them are really tied into the environmental movement, tend to be more attracted to the environmental stuff and sort of the biological basis of the world, in order to have a much more sustainable approach to our lives. Scott Harris a good friend of mine.

Any idea what it would take to sustain this work for justice?

Thereís a sort of faith based organizing, called the Greater Edmonton Alliance that I think is building up those organizations, and they are structures that transcend single issues or concerns. Certainly this is one way to go. Thereís a few. Don Mitchell, and Jon Riley and Deana Shorten, who just came back from this huge training session in L.A. and sheís the head of poverty in action. So, weíre profiling the Greater Edmonton Alliance. Itís not the same thing in Calgary at all, but itís kind of, thereís a smaller core of activists in Calgary, but they do some really great work there. so thatís sort of the structural part of the thing. We get so wrapped up in the individual issues and events and we need to rethink the way in which weíre organizing and thatís happening and thatís moving forward, you know, big chunks of money being raised from various sectors and church community. I really am actually very hopeful. People get it inside, they understand because they live day in and day out with our social world. All the extra school stuff, and taking care of parents and home care, and you have to deal with all of that being down all around you. Throughout all this, people understand these things, and the stress of our lives is a commonality and to tell people, that we have to start talking to people about that commonality and the what I call the stress, the social stress that exists is something that resonates through practically everyone. >From the teacher who makes 65,000 dollars a year but is working like 12 hours a day, complete stress, to a single mom who is on the lowest welfare rates in Canada, in Alberta and just going crazy. Itís a completely different world in many ways, but the stress is there, and we have to start talking about that commonality. And rather than just seeing education as the process of telling people the way it is, bringing out the awareness of all the existing people. And then it well be theirs and it will be their understanding, it will apply to them. Itís finding more connections. The mother in Nicaragua, to connect that to the mother in Edmonton. Thereís a real line there, you know, itís really black and white, this is the line. And, weíve gotta start going, Why are we basing our whole economic, political structure on ideas that were held in the 1960ís, that one forum in Ottawa, and Thatís old century thinking, weíve got to deal with real problems now. Youíve got to get out of that old century thinking, youíre thoughts are based on economic theories that were founded 40 years ago, you know, wake up, they havenít worked, we have to think of something new, there are new real alternatives here. And I think the left is contrary. Oh, there is not alternative, there are no ideas, that drives me insane because there are alternatives there are ideas, thereís ways of organizing, there are structures and so, nothing drives me more crazy than other people who are politicians on the left.

I have come to the end of my official list of questions. My hope as I said at the beginning is to make this a conversation among activists and organizers. Do you have observations or questions for others?

Hmmm. Just to hear how people are organizing, whatís working and what isnít. I have hope that this new Parkman Institute will have more opportunity to get connected across Canada, and you know, since Seattle, and I was in Seattle but I mean, in saying that too I also recognize that the work is going to happen on the ground. But the reality is that thereís no impact on the ground because itís not connected, itís rootless. Iíve been involved, Iíve been on the board of directors of lots of groups with lots of ideas. Some people are just doing too much on the national level and are not rooted at all.

Thank you.