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Privatization is deeply unpopular and has been fought successfully. But if the anti-privatization movement only thinks defensively the best we can do is protect the status quo. A discussion about reclaiming and reimagining public services can help move us towards a clearer picture of what we want from our public services in the future.

This conference aims to generate outlines of such a common vision, working towards a pro-public movement that would develop proposals and campaigns for public services that:

  • Address environmental crises and reverse deepening inequality
  • Increase a sense of ownership and democratic input from workers and communities
  • Create inclusive and equitable services

A strong pro-public movement has been developing internationally. From Germany to Argentina countries around the world are reclaiming public services that were once in private hands, democratizing their decision making and expanding their public mandates. Organizations in Canada can learn from and expand upon these victories.

For more information see the Conference website.

Our public services are among the most effective ways we have to build communities that are vibrant, green and inclusive.

Dru Oja Jay

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Want to Fight Inequality and Climate Change? Then Improve Public Services

Asked to imagine how we might solve the crises of climate change or inequality, it’s not the first solution that comes to mind. But our public services are among the most effective ways we have to build communities that are vibrant, green and inclusive. That’s the message of The Future is Public, a conference taking place in Montreal in mid-June with coast-to-coast and international participation. There’s a good reason why this role of public services isn’t immediately obvious to many people. We’ve been beset by decades of corporate propaganda that tells us public services are inefficient and irrelevant. That our lives will be improved not by government, but by private businesses.

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From anti-privatization to pro-public

David McDonald is a professor of Global Development Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario whose work over the years has focused on issues related to public services and privatization, mostly in contexts in the Global South and in Europe. Scott Neigh interviews him about his role as a co-organizer of The Future is Public, a conference happening in Montreal on June 15 and 16 that will bring together more than 150 activists, trade unionists, and researchers from across North America to discuss struggles and successes from around the world and to begin figuring out what it might mean to articulate a vision for public services that is not just anti-privatization but one that is resolutely pro-public when it comes to things like water, health care, education, energy, transportation, and all the rest.