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Sep 17, 2019

Professor Paul Phillips
Posted Thursday, August 7, 2008 1:42 PM


Professor Paul Phillips



Professor Paul Phillips died on July 16, 2008, in Vernon BC.


Paul graduated from the London School of Economics in 1967 with a PhD in Labour Economics and Industrial Relations. He joined the Department of Economics, University of Manitoba, on July 1, 1969 having spent two years as the Research Director, BC Federation of Labour. He retired from the Department on January 1, 2004 and was appointed Professor Emeritus in 2005.


Paul was a prolific writer with a publications record extending over thirty years. His interests were broad, spanning labour economics, regional economics, political economy, Canadian economic history and worker self-management, a rare intellectual feat but one that he managed with ease. 


His first book, No Power Greater: A Century of Labour in British Columbia, combined economic history with labour economics and remains the authoritative work in the field.  This was followed by his Regional Disparities. His Women and Work (with daughter Erin Phillips) is required reading for anyone interested in the gender dimensions of the Canadian labour market and is now in its third edition.  In addition, he published three other books and numerous articles in the area of both theory and policy of collective bargaining and industrial relations.


Paul was responsible for editing and publishing the seminal work of H.C. Pentland, Labour and Capital in Canada: 1640-1860.  Once regarded as the most heavily cited, unpublished PhD thesis in Canada, this work has long occupied a central place in Canadian economic and labour history.  Paul Phillips made it readily available for all and, in the process, contributed his own important analysis of Pentland=s work.  He played a similar role in rescuing, highlighting and critiquing the contribution of Vernon Fowke on the national policy and Canadian agricultural and regional policy.


Many of Paul’s publications have an economic history focus.  He wrote on mining in BC, agricultural development in the prairies, prairie urbanization, the National Policy and the evolution of Canada away from a staple driven economy.  Much of this work addressed important theoretical issues within an historical context.  Political economy theories of development and underdevelopment, from hinterland/metropolis views to unequal exchange and the Staple Theory, from Innis to Marx, from Emmanuel to Frank, inform his writings but are dealt with critically and creatively.  Theory has a strong presence in his work and his publications reveal a familiarity with a remarkably broad array of theories.  He co-authored two texts on orthodox economic theory, with Jim Seldon, while publishing almost all his other works from what can be best described as a >political economy= perspective.


More recently, Paul developed an interest in transitional economies and, encouraged by his friend and collaborator, Bogmil Ferfila of the University of Ljubljana, he became a recognized expert on the economy of Slovenia.


Professor Phillips was a popular teacher who set high academic standards. He attracted students by his commitment to them and by his passion for his field. He wrote several books specifically to meet the needs of his students and was regarded by students and colleagues alike as a serious, demanding and devoted teacher. He played an important role in developing the Labour Studies Program and was a key teacher in that program. He was also very active in the formation of the Global Political Economy program. For many years he was the main advocate for and teacher of Canadian Economic History in our department.  He was held in very high regard by students and colleagues alike and could always be relied on to teach whatever the department required and to do so effectively, to the satisfaction of his students. He supervised several graduate student theses, most recently in the areas of women and the unemployment insurance system, a history of First Nations= economic development in Manitoba and fair trade.


Professor Phillips also had an outstanding service record. Within the university, he was an active member of UMFA and served as Chief Bargainer during very difficult negotiations in the 1995 strike.  Paul belonged to the group of left-academics who, in 1978, brought the Society for Socialist Studies National Office to the University of Manitoba, where it was given accommodation at University College.  As Treasury and, later, Member at Large, of the National Executive, he served the cause of progressive research and teaching.  With Cy Gonick, Paul organized the 1994 conference, on ‘The Rise and Demise of An Industrial Relations System: 50 Years of PC1003’, from which came a signed collection of co-edited papers published by the Society.  Outside the university, his service to the community was remarkable. He was Chairman of the Milk Prices Review Commission and the Fluid Milk Commission, Chairman of the Milk Control Board and member of the Dairy Board. He chaired several Industrial Adjustment Committees, served as a member of the board of the Community Unemployed Help Centre and of the Manitoba Economic Development Advisory Board. He was active on the board of the Manitoba Opera Association and sang in the opera for many years. He was also a board member of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and an avid and accomplished musician. Paul also sailed and played polo. After ‘retirement’ to Vernon BC, he not only remained extremely active academically, but also sang in two choirs and became involved in theatre.


As his family stressed in their remembrance of him, ‘much of his academic work and community life was motivated by a deep and passionate commitment to social justice and a profound commitment to speaking for those who are left out of the economic, political and social conversation.’


Paul leaves to mourn him his wife Donna, daughters, Erin and Nicole, brothers David and Rhys, their families and many close friends.


A memorial has been scheduled for Saturday, August 2 at 11 am in the Schubert Centre, Vernon B.C. (3505 - 30th Avenue). A memorial has also been planned for September in Winnipeg: details will follow.


For more information, contact:
Debby Fiorucci
Office Assistant
Phone: (204) 474-9207
Fax: (204) 474-7681