Calgary School

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The Calgary School is the term used to refer to a group of like-minded, right-wing academics from the University of Calgary’s political science and history departments.

The term, originally a play on the Chicago School of economics, was coined by an American political scientist, David J. Rovinsky, in "The Ascendancy of the West in Canadian Policymaking," 1998 paper published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. [1] (Pdf)

These academics make up to about a quarter of the faculty of the political science department at the University of Calgary and have a large influence. Some on the university campus refer to them as the "Horsemen of the Apocalypse." The Calgary School has been credited with being instrumental in the rise of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his party. Harper studied under them.


The Calgary School "is a Canadian appropriation of American neo-conservatism," warns Shadia Drury, who taught with and fought with the Calgary School for 27 years before leaving the University of Calgary last year for the Canadian Research Chair in Social Justice at the University of Regina." [[2]]

Members of the Calgary School include:

"Who are these men – for they are, without exception, men – in Harper's backroom brain trust, collectively dubbed the 'Calgary School'?," Marci McDonald asked in an article in The Walrus. "Flanagan won his conservative spurs targeting the prevailing wisdom on the country's native people – what he calls the "aboriginal orthodoxy." Others like Rainer Knopff and Ted Morton – Alberta's long-stymied senator-elect – have built careers, and a brisk consulting business, taking shots at the Charter of Rights, above all its implications for the pet peeves of social conservatives: feminism, abortion, and same-sex marriage." [3]

Barry Cooper, who appears in Climate Change Cancelled, a video by the Friends of Science, has been described as the groups 'de facto spokesman'. "If we've done anything, we've provided legitimacy for what was the Western view of the country ... We've given intelligibility and coherence to a way of looking at it that's outside the St. Lawrence Valley mentality," he told McDonald. [[4]

But the key figure in this neoconservative Calgary School, linked so closely with the Fraser Institute, is Tom Flanagan, an American-born political scientist with Straussian philosophies at the University of Calgary who founded the right-wing Civitas Society, and who is considered to be the "man behind Stephen Harper." [5].

Since his arrival in Canada in the 1960s, he has quietly and steadfastly worked to eliminate the "socialism" he found in the country. He has shaped many students who are today influential figures in the Canadian political and neo-conservative media, including Ezra Levant, publisher of the eight-month-old Western Standard magazine, which echoes the far-right rhetoric and champions the far-right causes of the Weekly Standard in the US. Levrant is quoted as saying of Flanagan, "I call him Don Tomaso. He is the master strategist, the godfather – even of Harper." [6]

Tom Flanagan was an adviser to Preston Manning (a fellow of the Fraser Institute) and the right-wing Reform Party in Western Canada between 1991-93. In 2001-02 he began to work for Stephen Harper, managing his campaigns for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance in 2002 and then of the Conservative Party of Canada (2004). He also managed the Conservative Party’s national election campaign in 2004 and he worked as Senior Communications Adviser in the Conservative war room during the party’s successful 2005-06 election campaign. [[7]]. Notably, Tom Flanagan is also a Senior Fellow (on leave) at the Fraser Institute.

Academic Papers

External links

  • Calgary School, Wikipedia
  • Marci McDonald, "The Man Behind Stephen Harper: The new Conservative Party has tasted success and wants majority rule. If Tom Flanagan and his Calgary School have their way, they'll get it without compromising their principles," The Walrus, October 2004.

Sourcewatch resources

External resources