November 16-18, 2018, University of Alberta


Neoliberalism in Crisis

Parkland Institute’s 2017 annual conference will examine the current state of neoliberalism, which has been the dominant economic, governmental, and societal ideology of our time. The conference will explore neoliberalism’s profound impact on people and the planet, and symptomatic responses to its current crisis, including the rise of extreme right-wing movements. Seventy years after the Mont Pelerin Society launched the global neoliberal movement, is neoliberalism dead or merely morphing into something even more perilous? What do events such as Brexit, the ascendancy of Donald Trump, and the global (re)emergence of nationalist populism tell us about neoliberalism’s collapse? What are the progressive alternatives? And what does it mean for Alberta, Canada, and the world?

Register for the 2017 Fall Conference » 


Full Conference

Parkland Supporters: $140 / $100 Low Income
Regular: $190 / $125 Low Income

Keynote and Single Sessions

Tickets: $20 / $15 Low Income


Opening Keynote

Linda McQuaig

Reclaiming Populism in the Age of Trump

with Linda McQuaig

The rise of Donald Trump and others on the far-right highlights a deep dissatisfaction with the neoliberal status quo of the last three decades. Parading as populists, Trump and his crowd are trying to shape the anti-status quo sentiment into a nasty right-wing juggernaut that rewards themselves and offers nothing to working people.

But populism has an honorable tradition of actually defending working people and challenging elites. With neoliberalism now in disarray, the moment is ripe for progressives to tap into the popular dissatisfaction over rising inequality—with an agenda that empowers working people and allows them to capture a fair share of the wealth we all collectively create.

Journalist and bestselling author Linda McQuaig has a reputation for challenging the Establishment. She has been a rare voice of dissent in the mainstream media. Since 2002, she has used her op-ed column in the Toronto Star to challenge the prevailing economic dogma, take on powerful business moguls and consistently champion a more equal and inclusive society. She is the author of seven controversial national bestsellers.

Closing Keynote

Jamie Peck

Neoliberalism: Dead or Alive?

with Jamie Peck

As an ideology, as a political-economic program, and indeed as a concept, neoliberalism has been declared dead more than once. Jamie Peck makes the case for the continued salience of this contested and controversial synonym for “market rule,” even in the age of Donald Trump.

Jamie Peck is Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Political Economy, Distinguished University Scholar, and Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia. With long-term research interests in urban restructuring, geographical political economy, labour studies, the politics of policy formation and mobility, and economic geography, his current research is focused on the financial restructuring of US cities, the politics of contingent labour, and the political economy of neoliberalization.


Martin Lukacs
Saturday Morning Plenary

Justin Trudeau, the Last Stand (and Brand) of Progressive Neoliberalism

with Martin Lukacs

Millions of people voted for Justin Trudeau because he buzzed with progressive charisma. In symbolism alone, he has followed through: we now have "feminist" free trade, colonialism in a buckskin jacket, peace diplomacy via military might, and an environmentalism of windmills and pipelines. In short, this is "progressive neoliberalism."

How do we contend with a government that preaches diversity, tolerance and empowerment, but within an inequality-producing economy that is devastating the lives of middle-class and poor people? That marches in our rallies, while courting Bay Street? That borrows its emancipatory language from our movements, while disorganizing our campaigns?

Stephan Lewandowsky
Saturday Afternoon Plenary

The Post-Truth Era: Decline of Polity or Moral Panic?

with Stephan Lewandowsky

Terms such as “post-truth”' and “fake news” have become increasingly prevalent in public discourse over the last year. Have we really entered a dystopian future in which an opinion market on Twitter, rather than medical experts, that determines whether a new strain of avian flu is contagious to humans? Or are we witnessing the moral panic of neoliberal elites whose grip on society is waning?

I examine recent public events such as the 2016 US presidential election within the broader context of research into misinformation and science denial. What are the various ways that misinformation adversely impact society? How do people respond to corrections of misinformation, and what kinds of corrections are most effective? Are we really in a “post-truth” world?

Harsha Walia
Saturday Afternoon Plenary

Racism, Austerity, and Precarity: Canada's Role in the Migrant Crisis

with Harsha Walia

Migrants and racialized communities face systemic barriers to labour rights, permanent residency, and dignity in Canada. With escalating white supremacy as a stark reality alongside the national myth of multiculturalism, how we do we challenge structural racism as an integral part of fighting neoliberalism?

Andrew Cash
Sunday Morning Plenary

Working Outside the Law: Neoliberalism’s Forgotten Workforce

with Andrew Cash

By 2020 close to half of all workers in Canada will be freelance, on contract, self-employed, temporary, contingent, on-call, or part-time workers. Most are a bike accident away from the financial abyss. With no protection under provincial or federal labour laws or standards, independent workers can’t access benefits like maternity leave, employment insurance, a pension or job security, not to mention extended health and dental insurance. While work has changed most public policy to support workers is rooted in a past era of mostly stable full-time work. But if old solutions don’t work in the new economy, how do we make work better?