Signature Lecture: The Perilous Imbalance: How Canada Should Respond to Globalization's Inequities

Monday, March 29, 2010 - 7:00 PM
CIGI, 57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Canada
Mar 29
Our broad analysis examines three of globalization's drivers: each needing to be fixed. Globalization from above: When the biggest industrialized states set up the World Trade Organization, they created such a powerful body that it, along with NAFTA’s controversial granting extraordinary rights to foreign investors, needs to be considered our external constitution. Unfortunately this unbalances the international system in which rights protecting foreign investment now overwhelm human, labour, and environmental rights. Ottawa has helped rebalance the system at UNESCO but need to do more. Globalization from the marketplace: The behaviour of transnational corporations in the Third World often violates international human rights and environmental norms. Codes of corporate social responsibility have been much praised, but have proven ineffectual. The government of Canada needs to make Canadian TNCs accountable to enforceable standards. Globalization from below: Many non-governmental organizations do valiant work to remediate inequities abroad. The Canadian government needs to encourage, not obstruct their work but require complete transparency and accountability from them as well. Even though the federal government has a great potential to improve human security in threatened societies, Ottawa’s global stances have become increasingly regressive. More about the speakers: Stephen Clarkson, FRSC, is currently a CIGI Senior Fellow and professor of political economy at the University of Toronto. His published works are primarily concerned with the transborder governance and the economic relations between the three states of the North American continent that was institutionalized in conflicting ways by two decades of neo-conservatism, by NAFTA in 1994, and by the securitization of the United States' borders that followed the terrorist attack on 2001. His current research is assessing the extent to which the continental periphery -- Canada and Mexico -- constructs and/or constrains US power. His recent books on these issues include Uncle Sam and Us: Globalization, Neoconservatism and the Canadian State (2002); Governing under Stress: Middle Powers and the Challenge of Globalization (co-edited 2004), Does North America Exist? Governing the Continent after NAFTA and 9/11 (2008). Stepan Wood is an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and a member of the executive board of the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York University. His research focuses on environmental law, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, globalization, transnational private governance, voluntary standards, and climate change. He is co-author, with Stephen Clarkson, of A Perilous Imbalance: The Globalization of Canadian Law and Governance (UBC Press, 2010), and co-editor of Environmental Law for Sustainability (Hart, 2006) and Climate Law and Developing Countries (Edward Elgar, 2009). He is vice-chair of the Canadian national committee on environmental management system standards, a member of the Canadian national committee on the ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Guide, and a frequent Canadian delegate to meetings of ISO Technical Committee 207 on Environmental Management. He was a law clerk to the Supreme Court of Canada and practiced law with the law firm White & Case in New York. He is a member of the Bar of New York.

Event Speakers

A professor of political economy at the University of Toronto, Stephen Clarkson joined CIGI in 2002 as a senior fellow to work on North America’s governance problems. He is also a senior fellow at Massey College in Toronto and was the recipient of the Canada-US Fulbright Scholarship..