When Facts Fail: Competing Visions of Climate Populism

FREE - This event takes place as part of Media Democracy Days and the 2019 Community Summit.

Populism has become an increasingly prominent force in Canadian political life, with significant implications for how the public engages with the intersecting politics of climate change and energy.  In this panel discussion, three authors of a forthcoming book will discuss how competing visions of extractive and ecological  populism are shaping political debate in Canada. 

While governments, the fossil fuel industry and conservative media and think-tanks have aggressively mobilized populist rhetoric to position tar sands expansion and pipelines as part of the ‘national interest’, the resistance to extractivism has also drawn upon populist themes to describe the democratic rights of Indigenous nations, local communities and citizens to defend their lands – and the common good – from those forces which threaten it. 

What dangers and opportunities does populism hold for Canadian climate politics?  How does it enable new forms of climate denial?  Does it also open up new possibilities for mobilization and engagement beyond debates over climate science?


Room 320
Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue
580 W Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3

Date And Time

Wed, 10 April 2019
4:00 PM – 6:15 PM PST
(Doors at 3:30PM)


SFU Public Square
School of Communication
Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Dr. Shane Gunster

Dr. Shane Gunster teaches in the School of Communication at SFU, is a research associate with the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, and his work focuses upon the intersection of climate and energy politics in news media and advocacy communication.  His latest co-authored book is Journalism and Climate Crisis:  Public Engagement, Media Alternatives (Routledge 2017).

Dr. Paul Saurette

Dr. Paul Saurette is a professor at the School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa where he researches and teaches on a variety of topics including ideology and rhetoric, political communication, populism, the conservative and progressive movements in North America, and a wide range of social and political theory. The recipient of several teaching and research awards and currently a research fellow with the Broadbent Institute, his books include The Kantian Imperative (2005) and The Changing Voice of the Anti-Abortion Movement in Canada and the US (2015, with Kelly Gordon). He is currently writing a new book titled Climate Populism with Mat Patterson, Shane Gunster, Simon Dalby and Bob Neubauer. 

Dr. Robert J. Neubauer

Dr. Robert Joseph Neubauer is a Lecturer in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He researches the political economy of energy development, resource industry-funded civil society networks, and the media strategies of environmentalist and pro-oil advocacy groups.

Shannon Daub

Shannon Daub is the Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - BC Office. Shannon has worked with the CCPA-BC since its early days, helping to grow the organization from a scrappy DIY outfit to a widely recognized source of progressive research and policy ideas.

Shannon's work mixes her expertise in both research and communication. Her research interests include social movements, framing, environmental communication, and democratic capacity. She co-directs the Corporate Mapping Project with Bill Carroll at the University of Victoria. The project is investigating the power and influence of the fossil fuel industry in Canada, and is jointly led by UVic, the CCPA's BC and Saskatchewan offices, and the Alberta-based Parkland Institute.

Outside her day-to-day work life at CCPA, Shannon has taught in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University and volunteered on the boards of organizations like the Wilderness Committee, CCEC Credit Union and the Vancouver Public Library. She is also a co-founder of Media Democracy Day.