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1-12 Humanities Centre, University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB | T6G 2E5
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director
Email: [email protected]
- Trevor Harrison, Director
- Bill Kilgannon, Executive Director
- Ian Hussey, Research Manager
- Rebecca Graff-McRae, Research Manager
- Sharlene Oliver, Administration Co-ordinator
- Sarah Pratt, Communications Co-ordinator
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Parkland Institute's research fellows provide broad guidance and feedback on the research and programming Parkland Institute undertakes.
Distinguished Research Fellows
Greg Flanagan is a public finance economist with a BA (Economics) from the University of Calgary, MES (Political Economy and the Environment) from York University, and MA (Economics) from the University of British Columbia. Greg has taught and been in administration for 30 years in the Alberta post-secondary system, most recently retired from the University of Lethbridge. He has been involved with Parkland Institute since its inception as a board member, frequent researcher, and advocate.
Diana Gibson is a social scientist who has published extensively on labour and social justice issues ranging from tax fairness and health care reform to the socioeconomic impacts of pipelines for First Nations. She is also an experienced educator and public speaker. She is a Principal with PolicyLink Research Canada and former Research Director at Parkland Institute. She holds an MA in Development Studies from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and a BA (Industrial Relations) from McGill University.
Gordon Laxer is the founding director and former head of Parkland Institute (1996-2011). He is a Political Economist and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, and is the author or editor of five books, including Open for Business: The Roots of Foreign Ownership in Canada (Oxford University Press), which in 1991 received the John Porter Award for best book written about Canada. Gordon was the Principal Investigator of the $1.9 million research project, Neoliberal Globalism and its Challengers: Reclaiming the Commons in the Semi-periphery (2000-2006). He is the author of After the Sands: Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians, which was nominated for the 2016 John W. Dafoe prize in non-fiction books.
Kevin Taft received his Ph.D. (Business) from the University of Warwick, and also holds degrees from the University of Alberta. He is a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, former leader of the Alberta Liberal party, and the author of numerous reports and books for the Parkland Institute, including Shredding the Public Interest. His most recent book is Oil's Deep State (Lorimer, 2017).
Robert (Bob) Ascah
Robert (Bob) Ascah grew up in Lachine Quebec. He holds degrees in Commerce and Public Administration from Carleton University and completed his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Alberta in 1984. In 1984, he joined Alberta’s public service (Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs) moving to Alberta Treasury in 1986. At Treasury he was responsible for financial sector policy, foreign borrowing, and liaison with credit rating agencies. In 1996, he joined Alberta Treasury Branches becoming responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research. In August 2009 he was appointed Director of the Institute for Public Economics at The University of Alberta where he served for four years. In 1999, Ascah's Ph.D. dissertation Politics and Public Debt- The Dominion, the Banks and Alberta's Social Credit was published by the University of Alberta Press. He is currently editing a book on a sales tax for Alberta to be published by Athabasca University Press in 2021. His blog is Abpolecon.ca
Walden Bello is the senior analyst at Philippine think-tank Focus on the Global South, a Transnational Institute fellow and Akbayan representative in the Sixteenth Congress of the Philippines. The author of more than 14 books, Bello was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2003.
Elaine Bernard is Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Trade Union Program.
Stephanie Bloomingdale is the Secretary-Treasurer for the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, the first woman elected to this position. Her research interests include exploring income inequality and the effect of unionization on voting patterns and on wages and benefits.
Marjorie Griffin Cohen is an economist who is a professor emeritus of Political Science and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. She has written extensively in the areas of political economy and public policy with special emphasis on issues concerning, the Canadian economy, women, labour, electricity deregulation, energy, climate change and labour, and international trade agreements. She currently is involved in two research projects related to global warming and gender, and one on women’s issues in Canada since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.
Alex Himelfarb is Professor Emeritus of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs at York University and former Clerk of the Privy Council. He chairs WWF Canada and the advisory committee of CCPA Ontario. He also serves on a number of boards, including the Trudeau Foundation, the Public Service Foundation, Desmog Canada, Canadians For Tax Fairness, and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. He is also a Broadbent Institute Fellow. He has published numerous books, articles and papers on Canadian society and public policy.
Linda McQuaig is a journalist and best-selling author. She was a national reporter for the Globe and Mail and a senior writer for Maclean's magazine. Since 2002, she has written an op-ed column for the Toronto Star. She is author of nine books on politics and economics, including seven national bestsellers. Her 1995 book, Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths, was recently selected one of the 25 most influential books of the past 25 years by the Literary Review of Canada.
Jim Stanford is Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work, based at the Australia Institute. Jim recently relocated to Sydney, Australia from Toronto, where he is one of Canada’s best-known economic commentators. He served for over 20 years as Economist and Director of Policy with Unifor, and he still advises the union. Jim received his Ph.D. in Economics from the New School for Social Research in New York. He also holds an M.Phil. from Cambridge University, and a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Calgary. He is the author of Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism.
Asbjørn Wahl is Adviser at the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees and special adviser at the Campaign for the Welfare State. Trained in history and sociology, he has many years of experience in the trade union movement, at the national and international level.
Past Research Fellows
Tariq Ali (2014–2017)
Gordon Clark (2014–2017)
Parkland Institute would not exist without the generosity of our individual and organizational supporters, and our programming and research levels are both dependent upon (and limited by) your support.
All donations to the Parkland Institute are tax deductible, and supporters receive discounts to our events and other benefits.
Board of Directors
Parkland Institute is governed by a volunteer board of directors that is representative of the diverse publics Parkland engages with.
Half of Parkland’s board members are from the academic sector; they represent the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Lethbridge, and Athabasca, and also other provincial post-secondary institutions. The other half of the board includes representatives from the broader community, including unions, professional associations, the private sector, faith groups, and community organizations. We also strive for gender and regional balance on the board.
Our research fellows provide broad guidance and feedback on the research and programming Parkland Institute undertakes.
The small staff of Parkland Institute is housed in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. We also employ contract researchers and other specialists as required.
Parkland Institute programming depends on the generous help of volunteers, especially during our annual fall conference in November.
Parkland Institute studies economic, social, cultural, and political issues facing Albertans and Canadians, using the perspective of political economy. The Institute shares the results of its research widely and promotes discussion of the issues its research raises.
Parkland Institute marked its 20th anniversary in 2016. You can read a short history of the founding of Parkland Institute in Director Trevor Harrison's Parkland Institute: A Look Back at 20 Years.
Parkland Institute exists because of widespread concern about the changes within the political and economic culture of Alberta and Canada. Political discourse has shifted over the past number of decades as the language and assumptions of the marketplace have expanded corporate power and challenged the role and ethos of the public sector and the commons. The post-war consensus on providing public services to all citizens and the image of Canada as a caring and sharing society can no longer be taken for granted.
In this new intellectual and policy climate, market-oriented assumptions, arguments and policies need to be examined to determine whether or not they can be justified. This examination, touching on issues of provincial, national and international importance, requires more than partisan and self-interested participation if it is to reflect the views of Albertans and other Canadians. Through scholarly research and public education, Parkland Institute draws attention to and promotes discussion of these substantive questions that are central to political dialogue in Alberta and Canada.
Parkland Institute conducts research within the long-established intellectual approach of Canadian political economy. Parkland examines power and wealth differentials, social and class-based conflicts, and ways in which public policy and public choice shape and are shaped by these factors. Parkland seeks to provide ways to understand forces of change, forces that resist change, and conflicts of interest in our society. This understanding identifies the decisions that must be made if these forces are to be harnessed for social change and the greater good.
Political economy is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on economics, history, business, anthropology, sociology, and political science to uncover material and conceptual linkages among aspects of our society.
Three broad themes structure the institute's research:
Strengthening Alberta’s Democracy
Parkland Institute research explores key solutions to strengthen democracy in Alberta. Like many parts of the world, Alberta is seeing the rise of populist and authoritarian movements and an intensifying partisan divide. Political discourse is increasingly shaped by well-funded political action committees through social media rather than in-depth research and informed discourse. The global COVID-19 pandemic and the systemic changes to Alberta’s economy are deepening the growing inequality and division in Alberta, and this will have a long-term impact on people’s engagement in the democratic process.
Parkland’s research into strengthening Alberta’s democracy is more vitally necessary than ever. This work will include research into the implications of legislation that aims to silence the voice of working Albertans. Parkland explores the powerful political and economic interests who influence the debate about environmental issues impacting the province. We also work with researchers and community organizations led by Indigenous, black, people of colour, youth and the LGBTQ2S community to explore barriers to democratic engagement. Parkland also examines the important role of democratically elected municipal councils and school boards.
Envisioning Alberta’s Economic Future
Parkland research explores the systemic economic changes and policies impacting Albertans. This includes provincial government budget decisions that affect the province’s health care, education, human services, environment and workers. The COVID-19 pandemic, provincial budget cuts and other systemic changes to the economy are hitting diverse communities and marginalized segments of the population much harder than others. We look at the underlying social determinants of health, and examine the economic and social benefits of investments in high quality public services by all orders of government.
Parkland’s research will help develop a positive vision of what Alberta could look like if the province invested in communities to help diversify and transition to a more sustainable, clean economy. These positive alternatives for energy transition and economic diversification explore how we can best address the needs of workers and marginalized, rural and Indigenous communities.
Investing in Public Services and Strong Communities
High quality public services are essential to a healthy and prosperous future for all Albertans. Parkland researches the austerity agenda and impact on economic and social benefits of investments in public health care, K-12 and post-secondary education, a public child care and seniors' care system, and vital programs that reverse growing inequality. This includes how best to envision a progressive systemic response to the social, economic and political stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The research includes how to make government revenues more sustainable, progressive and fair, rather than using the pandemic to justify deep cuts and privatization of public services. Parkland examines the role of quality public services in towns and cities and progressive policies that build stronger, healthier and more inclusive communities.
For an overview of Parkland Institute's activities and impact you can read our past annual reports:
As part of a review process carried out by the University of Alberta of our research, impact and effectiveness, the Parkland Institute has prepared detailed self-study analyses outlining our work, areas of success, and major accomplishments in 2008 and 2014. The studies clearly demonstrate the ability of Parkland Institute to consistently perform and deliver results far beyond what would be expected of an organization of our size and budget.