Social justice reader’s corner: Books to put us on the path to the Balance of Power

The dust has settled after the federal election and Canada has a new minority government. It won’t be easy to create a “balance of power” movement to pressure Parliament to carry out a progressive agenda in the coming months. Fortunately, three writers have just published excellent books to help us navigate this tricky terrain.

For anyone wanting to really understand the twists and turns of the current Liberal leadership, Martin Lukacs book The Trudeau Formula: Seduction and betrayal in an age of discontent is a spell-binding look at a politics that ranges from sunny ways and the Paris Climate Accord over to the Transmountain Pipeline and a veneer of reconciliation. Lukacs takes us into some amazing spaces – from weapons industry expos to the heart of Alberta oil – while carefully exposing the contradictions within the Trudeau political praxis. Anybody trying to move federal politics today would be advised to read this book from cover to cover.

Of course, it always helps to look at our own successes to help guide us in the future. Maude Barlow is criss-crossing the country for the launch of her latest book Whose Water is it Anyway. It is a story of “everyday people defending the water resources of their communities by ensuring it is now and forever a public trust” and effectively describes a crucial part of her life’s work. We know some of the stories, but this version intertwines the resistance to corporate control with the inspiration of the Blue Communities movement. It’s a case study for future water justice warriors, which should inspire us all in the work to keep water public and safe.

Finally, Naomi Klein’s latest offering – On Fire – will set your imagination on fire! Drawing on the fabulous student organizing that brings millions of young people onto the streets, she takes Greta Thunberg’s phrase “our house is on fire” and lays bare today’s climate emergency. Naomi has been one of the clearest voices focusing on the relentless drive of capitalism to expand production and extraction as the root cause of the crisis. Here, she connects that reality to the forces behind U.S. President Donald Trump, the growth of climate refugees, and the new features of resistance. As always, Naomi winds up by pointing us to a hopeful solution –  a Green New Deal that includes good jobs, healthy communities and respect for Indigenous knowledge and rights.

Together, these three books are essential reading for anyone seriously engaged in social and climate justice work as we enter the third decade of this 21st century. As always, remember to shop at local independent bookstores and share books when you are finished reading them!