Stephen Harper, Open Federalism, and the Future of Canadian Social Policy

Since becoming Prime Minister of Canada in early 2006, Stephen Harper has articulated what is known as “open federalism,” a vague creed that tends to promote a rather limited engagement between Ottawa and the provinces. In this talk, the attempt to grasp the meaning and significance of “open federalism for intergovernmental relations and public policy before reflection on the issue of national unity, which remains a major issue in Canada. As argued, Harper’s unilateralism and his refusal to strongly engage in country-building efforts might have dire consequences for the future of Canada as a fragmented and multinational country in perpetual need of federal leadership and direct, ongoing engagement with the provinces and, currently, aboriginal communities.

Daniel Béland is Canada Research Chair in Public Policy (Tier 1) and Professor at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School in Public Policy, a joint venture between the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan. Holding a PhD in Political Sociology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), he has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University and The University of Chicago, a visiting professor at the University of Helsinki and the University of Southern Denmark, and a Fulbright Scholar at The George Washington University and the National Academy of Social Insurance. From July 2001 to December 2007, he taught sociology at the University of Calgary. 
A political sociologist analyzing politics and public policy from a comparative and historical perspective, Professor Béland has published 10 books and more than 75 peer-reviewed articles in international scholarly journals. His most recent books include The Politics of Policy Change: Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security Reform in the United States (Georgetown University Press, 2012; co-authored with Alex Waddan), Ideas and Politics in Social Science Research (Oxford University Press, 2011; co-edited with Robert Henry Cox), What is Social Policy? Understanding the Welfare State (Polity, 2010), Public and Private Social Policy: Health and Pension Policies in a New Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008; co-edited with Brian Gran), and Nationalism and Social Policy: The Politics of Territorial Solidarity (Oxford University Press, 2008; co-authored with André Lecours). He has also co-edited special issues for the Canadian Journal of Sociology (2004), International Journal of Social Welfare (2012), Governance (2012), and Revue française de science politique (forthcoming). To support his research, he has been awarded two SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) standard research grants and two Canada Research Chairs (a Tier 2 followed by a Tier 1). Taken together, his awards and grants add up to more than 2.5 million dollars CDN in external funding.

The event is followed by a drinks reception.

To view the flyer for this event please see: Stephen Harper, Open Federalism, and the Future of Canadian Social Policy.

This event is presented by the Australian Centre for Federalism (School of Politics and International Relations) in collaboration with the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute (Crawford School of Public Policy), ANU.

Date & time

Tue 28 Oct 2014, 12am


Common Room, University House, ANU


Professor Daniel Béland, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School in Public Policy, Canada


Dr Tracy Beck Fenwick


Updated:  22 December 2015/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications