ESAC 2013: Call for Panel Contributions

Published on 03 December 2012 by in ESAC News


Harperian Ecologies: Conservative Transformations in Canadian Environmental Policy

…  Panel to be held at the Annual Conference of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada

“Economic Action Plan 2012 builds on our Conservative Government’s impressive record of supporting a cleaner and more sustainable environment”
- Conservative Party of Canada (2012)

“The Harper government has clearly laid out its priorities with the latest slashing of environmental budgets. Gone is funding for climate change, air pollution, wildlife and toxic waste clean-up.”
- Green Party of Canada (2012)

While the Conservative Party boasts of its environmental record and political critics point to evidence of the contrary, there is one point upon which both sides are likely to agree: In just a few short years, the Harper conservatives have fundamentally altered the way the Government of Canada deals with the environment.

A news scan provides us with numerous examples of the new ‘Harperian ecologies’ (if we can call them thus):

  • While previous governments pointed to climate change as a serious threat requiring swift regulatory action, the current government has expressed caution about enacting what it sees as overly drastic and economically-damaging measures (CBC News 2011);
  • Whereas Canada once played a leading role in bringing together international cooperation on climate change, its new method at such talks is to approach the table as a ‘tough’ negotiator aiming to protect its national interests (The Canadian Press 2011);
  • For decades, a three-tiered regulatory system of environmental assessment was interpreted by the feds as an important way to rigorously test the potential impacts of development, whereas now such a system is seen as an impediment to ‘shovel ready’ projects (and thus a hindrance to economic growth) (Macdonald et al. 2012);
  • The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, set up and consulted by previous governments to provide high-level expert guidance on society-nature relations, has recently been axed and their recommendations rejected by the Harper cabinet (Scoffield 2012);
  • Civil society groups focusing on the environment, at one time voicing their criticisms openly, have re-strategized as they now face a government which is explicitly wary of their ‘radical’ and ‘foreign-backed’ agenda (McCarthy & Moore 2012).

These are just some of the many examples of how Canadian environmental policy has been transformed as a result of political and economic change in Ottawa. What is sorely missing, however, is in-depth scholarly analysis on such recent transformations.

As such, this special panel seeks contributions which help to unpack the new ‘Harperian ecologies’ at a theoretical level, as informed by empirical (or case study) examples.

Scholars, environmental researchers, and graduate students are invited to submit proposals for presentations to be held during this panel (or possibly multiple panels, depending on the level of interest) being organized at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada ( Please send your proposal, including an abstract of no more than 300 words, a presentation title, your name, and a brief biography (of no more than 100 words) to the panel organizer, Ryan Katz-Rosene, at, by January 31st, 2013. Decisions on proposals will be communicated by the end of February. Those accepted will be asked to register and attend ESAC’s Annual Conference, being held at the Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, in Victoria, B.C., from June 3rd to June 5th, 2013 (for which membership to ESAC is required).

The panel aims to cast the net wide in terms of the scope and topical focus of contributions. Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • The neoliberalization of Canadian environmental policy;
  • (Dis)connections between provincial and federal environmental plans;
  • Bill C-38 and changes to environmental conservation and protection practices;
  • Re-writing the Fisheries Act;
  • Federal (de)funding of climate science (Eg. Defunding the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Laboratory);
  • The framing of environmental organizations (ENGOs) as ‘radical’, ‘foreign-backed’ threats;
  • From Kyoto to Copenhagen: Canada’s new stance on climate change;
  • Winning the ‘Fossil Award’: Canada’s changing international environmental reputation
  • Expediting pipelines, protecting the bituminous sands, and reframing Canada as an ‘energy superpower’;
  • Restrategizing carbon reduction: Sequestering carbon, commoditizing carbon.
  • From ‘sustainability’ to ‘responsibility’: New discourses of Canadian environmentalism;

For more information please email Ryan Katz-Rosene, panel organizer, at

For more information about the Environmental Studies Association of Canada, or its annual conference, visit

Note on the political nature of this panel: This panel seeks to showcase high quality, compelling analytical works backed up by robust research. Uninformed political gripes will not be considered, and neither will blind praise.








CBC News, 2011. Canada pulls out of Kyoto Protocol – Politics – CBC News. Available at:

Conservative Party of Canada, 2012. Environment. Conservative Party of Canada. Available at:

Green Party of Canada, 2012. Harper government guts environmental funding. Available at:

Macdonald, D., McRobert, D. & Diamond, M., 2012. How Ottawa fumbled the fisheries file. The Globe and Mail. Available at:

McCarthy, S. & Moore, O., 2012. David Suzuki laments Tory-imposed “chill” on green groups. The Globe and Mail. Available at:

Scoffield, H., 2012. Environment minister rejects final report from axed advisers to embrace low-carbon economy. The Globe and Mail. Available at:

The Canadian Press, 2011. Kent takes tough tone on Durban talks. Available at:

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