Opening Keynote, 7:00 PM MST
*Due to an unforeseen medical issue, Jared will be presenting via live video.*
The Gathering Crisis – Its Origins, Components, and Opportunities
With Jared Yates Sexton
An examination of the failings of the neoliberal order reveals that seemingly inexplicable events, ranging from the election of Donald Trump and January 6th to the Truckers Convoy in Ottawa, are consequences of a crumbling consensus and portends of a rapidly approaching crisis. This presentation will diagnose elements of the gathering storm, including growing authoritarianism and weaponized paranoia, but also reveal opportunities for countering the austerity, exploitation, and cruelty of the neoliberal project and possibly establishing a better and more humane future.
Jared Yates Sexton is the author of American Rule: How A Nation Conquered The World But Failed Its People (Dutton/Penguin-Random House) and the forthcoming book The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis.
Saturday Morning Plenary, 9:00 AM MST
Ecofascism and/or Democracy
with Sam Moore
On what basis do we say that fascism and democracy are opposites? Proposals to expand the idea of democracy to include more-than-human actors have recently gained force. Fascists, too, made and continue to make strong appeals to ideas of nature in their politics, drawing on the idea of nature as regulator, avatar, and avenger. In this talk, Sam Moore will discuss the history of far-right interventions into the environment, both practically and in fascist rhetoric, and speculate on the likely futures of ‘far-right ecologism.’ How, if the urgency of climate change demands we consider the more-than-human, can we differentiate a democratic consideration of nature from the fascist seizure of its mantle?
Sam Moore is an anti-fascist researcher and writer. He is one-half of the collective 12 Rules for WHAT, which produces a podcast on the politics of the far right and has written two books to date: Post-Internet Far Right (Dog Section Press, 2022) and The Rise of Ecofascism: Climate Change and the Far Right (Polity, 2022). Read more »
1A. Saturday Morning Panel, 10:30 AM MST
Myths as Reality: Alberta Politics, Society, and Democracy at a Crossroads?
With Jared Wesley, Michelle Maroto and Feodor Snagovsky
Over the course of the pandemic, our Common Ground research has engaged thousands of Albertans, learning about their backgrounds, perspectives, and struggles. Through our surveys and focus groups one thing has become abundantly clear – a gulf has emerged between who Albertans are as individuals, and who they see themselves to be as a community. When asked which values animate provincial politics, most Albertans continue to describe the dominance of “wild west” notions like populism, wester alienation, bootstrap individualism, and prosperity. When asked about their own political preferences, however, the average Albertan is far less conservative than this image portrays. In this panel, we discuss the tensions between myth and reality as they apply to Albertans’ economic future, the Freedom Convoy movement, and the place of Alberta in Canada.
Jared Wesley is a professor of political science at the University of Alberta. He studies provincial politics and political culture in Western Canada.
Michelle Maroto is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Alberta. She studies social stratification and inequality.
Feodor Snagovsky is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alberta. He specializes in the comparative analysis of elections and political behaviour.
1B. Saturday Morning Panel, 10:30 AM MST
Rural/Urban Divide and its Impacts on Politics and Democracy
With Jack Lucas and Clark Banack
The Urban-Rural Divide in Alberta: Attitudes, Identities, Voting
Urban-rural divides in policy attitudes and voting preferences have been growing in Canada in recent decades. Using data from recent large-scale surveys of the Canadian public, this presentation will describe patterns of urban-rural identity and place-based resentment, along with an analysis of the policy issues on which urban and rural Canadians are most divided. The presentation will focus particular attention on Alberta residents.
Jack Lucas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary, and a Board Member of the Parkland Institute. His research is focused on democracy and representation in Canadian local governments as well as urban-rural divides in Canadian politics.
Political Resentment in Rural Alberta
Drawing on his ongoing academic work in rural communities, and especially his recent “political ethnography” work across rural Alberta, Dr. Banack will provide his perspective on the growing tide of political alienation and resentment in Alberta, its unique roots, and its broader implications. The presentation will conclude with some thoughts on the rural-urban divide in Alberta politics and how such a divide is often depicted.
Clark Banack is a Political Scientist and the Director of the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming book Building Inclusive Communities in Rural Canada (University of Alberta Press). Read more »
Saturday Afternoon Plenary, 1:00 PM MST
Living at the Intersection: Fighting for a More Racially Equal and Gender-Just Democracy
with Gilary Massa
Systemic problems require systemic intervention. This session will examine our current day political context and the rise and intersecting nature of racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia in Alberta and Canada more broadly. The session will also explore how institutions aimed at protecting us might better respond to the rise in racially motivated hate and deliver an action-oriented vision for what a more racially equal and gender-just democracy might look like.
Gilary Massa (she/her) is a Human Rights and Equity Educator and Strategist with over a decade of successful experience supporting school boards, advocacy organizations, labour unions, government agencies, and private enterprises through organizational change work that centers on human rights, equity, and inclusion. Read more »
2A. Saturday Afternoon Panel, 2:30 PM MST
Growing Misogyny and Feminist Responses
With Lise Gotell, Michelle James and Bo Masterson
The UCP's Penal Populism and Violence Against Women
In this presentation, I explore the United Conservative Party’s mobilization of penal populism in response to violence against women. Alberta has among highest rates of sexual violence and intimate partner violence in Canada, social problems that dramatically escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the New Democratic Party government had developed policy strategies to confront violence against women, as I demonstrate here, the UCP has instead embraced form of penal populism that redefined this gendered problem through a rigidly individualized lens that privileged carceral responses. The presentation will focus on the UCP government’s embrace of de-gendered police frameworks that make the problem of violence against women disappear, the use of “panels” as symbolic gestures (such as the Joint Working Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), resistance to the federal National Action Plan, and the enactment of criminalization approaches, (such as Clare’s Law).
Lise Gotell is the Landrex Distinguished Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. Much of her recent work concerns the legal regulation of sexual violence in a context of neoliberalism. Read more »
Community: A remedy for an increasingly polarized society
This presentation will offer an interactive perspective on the Women Centre of Calgary's unique approach to community building and how that approach serves as a remedy for growing misogyny and polarization in our society. In particular, we will explore the protective properties of our community capacity building peer model through case study.
Michelle James (she/her) is the Public Policy Specialist with the Women’s Centre of Calgary. She holds an MPH with specialization in social policy and is a health and social equity enthusiast. Michelle has worked in the social services sector, in both BC and Alberta, for over ten years.
Bo Masterson (she/her) is the Executive Director of the Women’s Centre of Calgary. She holds a MSc in International Development and has over 15 years of international and community development experience. Read more »
2B. Saturday Afternoon Panel, 2:30 PM MST
Convoys, Policing, and Community Well-Being
With Temitope Oriola and Alex Silas
Policing, Use of Force and Lessons Not Learned
This presentation explores police use of force in Canada. It draws on findings from a SSHRC-funded collaborative research on deployment of conducted energy weapons and the Officer-Involved Shooting Database to underscore the micro-mechanics of police use of force in Canada. Policing of the freedom convoy is articulated as part of the ideational underbelly of law enforcement. The final part of the presentation focuses on recommendations for police reform.
Temitope Oriola is professor of criminology at the University of Alberta and the 2022 recipient of the CAFA Distinguished Academic Award. Oriola’s scholarship and public engagement on police reform have led him to being one of the most sought-after public intellectuals on policing in Canada. Read more »
Countering the Convoy: Then and Now
Alex Silas, Regional Executive Vice-President for the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s National Capital Region will share lessons learned from organizing on-the-ground against the Ottawa convoy occupation last winter, including the mass response on February 12, the Battle of Billings Bridge and organizing in the context of a far-right occupation
Alex Silas was appointed the PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region (NCR) in May, 2020 and was elected REVP in May 2021. He previously served as the Alternate REVP for the NCR, having been elected to that position in December 2018. Read more »
Saturday Late Plenary, 4:00 PM MST
Beyond Recognition, Towards Liberated Futures
With Riley Yesno
Since 2015, reconciliation has been the dominant term we’ve used to describe our goals for the future of Indigenous / Canada relations. What does reconciliation really mean? What critiques do Indigenous people have of reconciliation? And, ultimately, what must we all do to be a part of building the futures the TRC sought to articulate?
Riley Yesno (she/her) is a queer Anishinaabe scholar and public intellectual from Eabametoong First Nation. She currently studies at the University of Toronto and is a Vanier scholar.
Sunday Morning Plenary, 9:00 AM MST
How To Build Power and Win In Populist Times
With Emma Jackson
In 1934, Bertolt Brecht wrote, “It takes courage to say that the good were defeated not because they were good, but because they were weak.” The recent election of Pierre Poilievre as Leader of the Conservative Party and the growing influence of the far-right must be a wake-up call to the Left— being right wins us nothing if we have no power. It’s more important than ever that we organize a popular force by breaking outside of our activist subcultures, meeting people where they are, and re-politicizing our currently de-politicized spaces and institutions. But building power in populist times will also require us to dismantle some dominant beliefs that the political and corporate élite in this country are invested in maintaining— namely, that populism is bad, polarization is to be avoided, and politics are something you “have” and not something you do.
Emma Jackson is an organizer, writer and campaigner based on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton, AB. She grew up in the Canadian labour movement and first cut her organizing teeth in the student fossil fuel divestment movement. Read more »
3A. Sunday Morning Panel, 10:30 AM MST
Quality of Life - Public Services and Housing
With Brad Lafortune and Rebecca Graff-McRae
Public Housing is a Human Right - Now We Need to Act Like It
There is a housing crisis in Alberta. Instead of reinvesting in housing across the spectrum — from deep subsidy supportive housing to interventions in market housing — the provincial government is embarking on a strategy to privatize current public housing stock and is ideologically opposed to market interventions.
As a result, the crisis is deepening. But there are solutions and we know what they are. Public Interest Alberta is building a provincial blueprint with partners across the province to propose a generational investment in adequate, affordable and accessible housing. With the seven principles of adequate housing as the foundation, Alberta can and will become a leader in making housing a human right — not just in principle or legislation, but in reality.
Brad Lafortune has worked most of his life on Treaty 6 territory in Alberta as an advocate for worker rights and social, economic and environmental justice. Read more »
Public Services and Political Divisions: Lessons from a Deeply Divided Society
In deeply divided politics and those emerging from political conflict, the (re)establishment of reliable, equitable public services is crucial – not just for the reconstruction of a functional society, but also towards the (re)building of a shared civic identity.
While Alberta is not deeply divided in this extreme sense, it nonetheless has deep political and socio-economic divisions that have been reinforced and redrawn during the seismic shifts of the last few years. This presentation asks how these divisions have impacted our ability to maintain and expand our vital public services and whether our failure to protect them may contribute to a deepening divide. Finally, it explores how we can strengthen our services for the good of all Albertans.
Rebecca Graff-McRae is a Research Manager for Parkland Institute, working on issues of healthcare, seniors’ care, education, and public services in Alberta. She holds a doctorate in Irish Politics from Queen’s University Belfast and has published widely on post-conflict politics in Ireland and Northern Ireland as well as Alberta politics. Read more »
3B. Sunday Morning Panel, 10:30 AM MST
Jobs and Transitions
With Ian Hussey and Ana Guerra Marin
Job Creation or Job Loss? Big Companies Use Tax Cut to Automate Away Jobs in the Oil Sands
My presentation analyzes how the four biggest oil sands companies received $4.3 billion in tax cuts from the UCP government since 2019 through the so-called “Job Creation Tax Cut,” while at the same time eliminating thousands of employees from their payrolls. The research shows the Big Four used the tax giveaway to increase executives’ pay and boost cash transfers to shareholders, while accelerating automation and cutting jobs.
Ian Hussey began his work as a research manager at the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute in 2014, and he earned a career appointment in 2019. He is a steering committee member of the Corporate Mapping Project. Read more »
Navigating Polarization and Fear While Building JUST Transitions from the Ground Up
What would happen if we actually listen to Indigenous Peoples, workers and frontline communities? And what does this engagement look like? The speaker will present Iron & Earth’s consent and agency-based approach, what findings have been identified so far and how that translates to an equitable future.
Ana Guerra Marin (she/her) is the Communities Director and Just Transition Lead at Iron & Earth. She is a social justice expert with direct fossil fuel experience and a 15-year career focused on helping communities in Latin America and Canada achieve self-determination through social transformation.
Closing Keynote, 12:00 PM MST
With Malcolm Azania
Be The Victory You've Been Dreaming Of
Despair is easy when fascism, the foe we thought we’d defeated nearly a century ago, is back from hell and rampaging across North America and the world. Still, we beat it before, and we’ll do it again. But how? Without question, the best-funded and most powerful tools are in the hands of governments. But 20th and 21st Century history teaches us that we can’t risk assuming that governments—even social democratic ones—will engage this fight effectively, or at all.
So what must we do? And while organizing to defeat this evil, how do we simultaneously engineer the world we want and deserve? In other words, how to we move beyond the myopia of anti- to embrace telescopic vision of pro-?
Citizens and citizen organizations, regardless of support or opposition from government forces, must begin with a frank analysis of why we must discard the flimsy notion of “allyship” for the clear and unmistakable terms of formal alliances. We must broker and expand intercommunal connections to create a common vision-action plans. We must practice asymmetric activation through pro-social innovation competitions, especially to seize control of the digital commons. And through our most powerful and best-funded organizations—labour unions—we must create expansive solidarity endowments to thwart the long-game of Koch Brothers-style social engineering to systematically build a better world.
Malcolm Azania is a long-time community organizer and teacher, particularly in the areas of Africentric education, racial justice, peace, and anti-fascism. In addition to being an award-winning novelist and print journalist, he has been a community radio host-producer, national television host and associate producer, and writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta. To access articles and links related to his keynote, visit his Selected Writing page (content to be available beginning November 20).