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Populism in Canada?

Monday, May 29, 2017
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
at Wolf Performance Hall
London, Ontario

As we see populist anti-immigration sentiment gain political traction across Europe and in the United States, we wonder: will Canada be different?

Full event details at Wolf Hall Debates.


Anton Allahar is Professor of Sociology at Western University, where he studies economic development, globalization and democracy, and ethnic and racial relations. Anton was born in Trinidad, West Indies, and completed his PhD in Political & Economic Sociology at the University of Toronto. Among his many published works, he is the author of Richer and Poorer: the Structure of Inequality in Canada and co-author of Lowering Higher Education: the rise of the corporate university and the decline of liberal education.

Victoria Esses is Professor of Psychology at Western University, where she studies prejudice and discrimination in attitudes toward immigrants and immigration. She is also the Director of the Western Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations, which facilitates research that draws on academic knowledge to inform public policy and practice on migration and ethnic relations in Canada and internationally. Her research lab aims to understand and facilitate more productive interactions between groups through laboratory and field research.

Stephanie Levitz (@stephanielevitz) is a journalist and Parliament Hill reporter at The Canadian Press, where she covers federal politics, immigration and refugee policy. She is currently writing the nationally syndicated Populism Project series, investigating Canadian parallels to the factors in America that led to Trump’s election. Stephanie’s work appears in The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Maclean’s magazine as well as on numerous news websites including CBC.ca and Huffington Post.

Ingrid Mattson (@IngridMattson) is the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College. She is widely published on issues of Qur’an interpretation, Islamic theological ethics, and interfaith relations. Her book, The Story of the Qur’an, is an academic best-seller and was chosen by the US National Endowment for the Humanities for inclusion in its “Bridging Cultures” program. From 2001-2010 Dr. Mattson served as vice-president, then as president of the Islamic Society of North America (USA), the first woman to serve in either position.

Erna Paris is a historian and award-winning author of seven works of nonfiction. Her works have been published in fourteen countries and translated into eight languages. Erna’s book, Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History, was chosen as one of “The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada” by the Literary Review of Canada. Her most recent book is From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain. Erna was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2015.

Will Canada be different?

We have two official languages. We are the home of the most diverse city in the world. We sport multiculturalism and politeness like a global brand. We have a private refugee sponsorship program. The Crown is our formal head of state. Statistics Canada recently reported that nearly half of all Canadians will be immigrants or the children of immigrants by 2036. These variables, among others, might incline us to think that Canada is somehow ‘unique’ in the world. Yet the recent shooting at Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec demonstrates all too painfully that hatred lives here too. And as many visible minorities can attest, racism alive well and live today, manifesting itself in all kinds of subtle (and not-so-subtle) actions and words.

This event is an opportunity for the London community to gather and hear some reflective, reasoned, and rational perspectives on how Canada’s future might unfold against an uncertain and shifting global backdrop. Expert panelists will look at the question of populism and anti-immigration sentiment from the perspectives of sociology, psychology, journalism, religious studies, and history. Join us for an evening of speculation, potentialities, and probabilities. We will weigh the variables and explore this critical, national question, with the help of an eminent ‘brain trust’ of Canadian scholars. This is not just about predicting the future, but about anticipating the world we will create together.