Calgary School

Calgary School

The Calgary School is a name used to refer to a group of like-minded academics from the University of Calgary’s political science and history departments in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The term, originally a play on the Chicago School of economics, was coined by American political scientist David Rovinsky. [Rovinsky, David. [ "The Ascendancy of the West in Canadian Policymaking"] , "Policy Papers on the Americas" Vol. IX, Study 2. 16 Feb 1998. ]


The School is not an official organization and has no membership list. The following individuals were included in the group in an article in the "The Walrus" MacDonald, Marci. [ "The Man Behind Stephen Harper"] , "The Walrus", October 2004.] :
*David Bercuson, history professor and director of the university's Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.
*Barry F. Cooper, political science professor and fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.
*Tom Flanagan, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and adviser to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
*Roger Gibbins, president of the Canada West Foundation and former political science professor.
*Rainer Knopff, political science professor.
*Ted Morton, an Alberta cabinet minister who finished third in the December 2006 leadership race of the province's governing Progressive Conservative party.

The 'School' has at times included other academics from the University of Calgary and other Universities, many of whom would strongly disagree on important matters of politics and political theory.

Political philosophy

The School is of a decidedly conservative political leaning, and has been described by "The Walrus Magazine" as "a rambunctious, Rocky Mountain brand of libertarianism" that seeks "lower taxes, less federal government, and free markets unfettered by social programs such as medicare that keep citizens from being forced to pull up their own socks."

There does, however, seem to be tension between the socially conservative and economically conservative factions within the school. Bercuson publicly criticized Morton's social policies, saying " [they] were hard to stomach for a libertarian." [McLean, Archie. "Morton would use Alberta as his 'guinea pig': Social, religious views will drive policy, expert says", "Edmonton Journal", 2 December 2006.] This type of division questions whether any kind of coherent "school" can be referred to at all.

The members of the School, particularly Flanagan, are also said to be followers of the American neoconservative philosopher Leo Strauss, their detractors interpreting this as sharing his "deep suspicion of liberal democracy" [] . Others have disagreed, saying "those who regard Straussians as masterminds manipulating [Stephen Harper| [Stephen] Harper] and [George W. Bush| [George W.] Bush] are intellectually lazy." [Sibley, Robert. "The Making of a Negative Image (Part 2)", "The Ottawa Citizen, 5 February 2006.]

The political views of the School have resulted in some criticism. One former faculty member called it "the department of redneckology."


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