Monday, February 14, 2011

Eugene Forsey remembered in new book by daughter, Helen Forsey

“We are not afraid of asking our governments, which we choose and can control, to provide for us services which no one else can.” - Eugene Forsey


Eugene Forsey
In her new book, Eugene Forsey — Canada's Maverick Sage, Helen Forsey writes about her father’s vision of Canadian society and the essential role of government, always coloured with the lens of justice and equality, to be published by Blue Butterfly Press this spring.

Forsey was a vocal and highly respected Senator, a constitutional expert, a staunch trade unionist, as well as a committed socialist and member of the CCF (predecessor to the NDP) and the League for Social Reconstruction.

The book comes exactly at the right time. For the last two years, countries have been recovering from the worst economic collapse in decades. In Canada, a passionate debate continues between Canadians and politicians about the merits of continuous massive corporate tax cuts, the growing wealth of the top 1% wage earners and the lack of support for suffering working families who are barely scraping by. His words give strength to the idea that government has an active and permanent role to play in the lives of its citizens. His advocacy work, especially with the trade union movement, called for continued pressure for positive change in areas that would affect the majority of working people - pensions, unemployment insurance, welfare benefits, disability benefits and public health care.

In an excerpt from her book, Forsey writes, "Speaking to a young audience in 1960, he was even more direct: 'I find sometimes a tendency for people to think that if a public authority spends money it is a terrible thing, but if it is spent by some private body, then that is magnificent. [They think] that taxes are an unmitigated evil; that public activity of any kind is something to be cut down to the smallest possible proportion; that private enterprise is always good and public enterprise is always bad. These seem to me extraordinarily silly and irrational attitudes, which may be disastrous for us.'"
Helen Forsey highlights that today there are many examples of how government decisions serve the private rather than the public interest and often at its expense. She writes that, "a massive deception being perpetrated upon a weary people — ironically by governments themselves — in a multi-faceted campaign to favour corporate interests by denigrating government in the public mind.”

For anyone concerned about the state of our country, the common good and especially the withdrawal of the positive and supportive role of government in favour of increased corporate influence in our daily lives, Forsey’s book is a must read.

Helen Forsey is a feminist writer and environmental activist who divides her time between rural Eastern Ontario and Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula.

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