About the Progressive Economics Forum
Economic policy-making and economics instruction in Canada have both increasingly come to reflect a conservative, free-market perspective. There is an urgent need to promote an alternative, progressive economics community in Canada. Over 200 progressive economists — working in universities, the labour movement, and activist research organizations — have joined forces to make our collective, critical perspective heard. We have formed the Progressive Economics Forum.
The general goal of PEF is to promote the development of a progressive economics community in Canada.
Activities will include the hosting of conferences and panels; the publication of a newsletter, a membership directory, job postings, and/or research abstracts; support for critical-thinking economics students; economic literacy training for activists; and many others.
Adopted at the founding meeting in Ottawa on May 31, 1998.
The organization shall be known as the Progressive Economics Forum.
Mandate and Terms of Reference:
The Forum’s general purpose is to promote progressive approaches to economic analysis, policy-making, and activism in Canada.
Membership is invited from progressive economists and others representing a wide range of intellectual and political traditions including but not limited to Keynesian, post-Keynesian, Marxian, structuralist, institutional, feminist, ecologist, and post-modern.
The common elements linking the diverse “heterodox” perspectives represented within the Forum are:
a recognition of the inadequacy of conventional free-market economic theory as a description of how capitalist economies actually work;
a critique of the economic and human consequences of conventional free-market economic policy prescriptions; and
support for thorough-going, progressive democratic structural change in the policies and institutions that currently govern the economy (including macroeconomic policy; labour market institutions and regulations; policies affecting both paid and unpaid work; financial policy and institutions; the ownership and regulation of capital; the regulation of international economic relationships; and environmental protection and regulation), and a desire to participate in the strengthening and promotion of these alternative policies.
The goals of the Forum include:
challenging the free-market orthodoxy which dominates both economics instruction and economic policy-making in Canada;
promoting the growth and profile of an alternative, critical economics community by facilitating the development of progressive economics curricula; facilitating exchange among left economics researchers; supporting the activities of progressive economics students; and helping to place progressive economists in relevant jobs; and providing intellectual support and instruction to the activities of progressive social movements and grass-roots organizations (through economic literacy training, public speaking, and other activities).
The Forum views itself as operating cooperatively with the Socialist Studies Society, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, l’Association d’économie politique, and other networks of progressive intellectuals in Canada. Our goal is not to replicate the good public outreach and activism on economic justice issues of existing organizations. Rather, the unique focus of the Forum, and the niche it aims to fill, is its effort to build a left presence within the economics profession.
The Forum recognizes the existing role of l’Association d’économie politique in facilitating communication and exchange amongst progressive francophone economists in Canada, and does not intend to duplicate or interfere with that work.
The Forum also intends to develop links with like-minded organizations in other countries including associations of left economists (such as the Union for Radical Political Economics or the Conference of Socialist Economists) and progressive economics research centres (such as the Economic Policy Institute, the Center for Economic Policy Analysis, the Center for Popular Economics, the World Institute for Development Economics Research, and CEPREMAP).
The Forum will organize an annual business meeting and issue panel(s), likely held in conjunction with either the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada or the annual meetings of the Canadian Economics Association.
The Forum will also publish a membership directory and a basic newsletter that will be distributed to all members. The newsletter would include reports on Forum events and activities, steering committee news, listings or abstracts of current research projects being undertaken by members, and other information of interest to progressive economists.
Additional activities of the Forum will be developed as justified by the membership, interests, and funding base of the organization. These additional activities may include:
Independent conferences on particular issues of interest to progressive economists.
Some visible presence (including conference sessions) at activities of the Canadian Economics Association, the Canadian Association of Business Economists, and other mainstream economics organizations. Job postings (academic and non-academic) for progressive economists: help wanted and help available.
Speaker’s Bureau / Media List: listing the credentials and interest areas of progressive economists willing to speak to community organizations or journalists.
Support for economic literacy training work and other economics-related activities of grass-roots social-change organizations.
Economics curriculum research and lobbying: compiling evidence on the “free- market” slant of most current economics teaching; generating reading lists and course lists of alternative progressive resources; pressing for a more balanced presentation of economic issues in economics teaching.
Support for economics students interested in a left perspective: conferences, scholarships, essay-writing contest.
Potential dissemination of organizational news, research abstracts, and other information via the Internet.
Possible future publication of research papers or academic journal.
The Forum is intended to facilitate networking and communication among progressive economists reflecting a range of theoretical perspectives and policy viewpoints. For this reason, the Forum will not take public positions on particular policy issues, endorse particular campaigns or parties, or grant funds to other organizations.
Steering Committee and Governance:
The Forum will be governed between annual meeting by a Steering Committee, consisting of at least seven members, elected to 2-year terms at annual meetings.
The election of Steering Committee members will attempt to ensure the following balance considerations. The Steering Committee should include:
two or more women;
two or more academic economists;
two or more members from outside academia;
two or more students.
In light of our cooperative relationship with l’Association d’économie politique in Quebec, the Forum invites l’Association to nominate an additional member of the Steering Committee from Quebec every two years. This member will be in addition to the seven elected members, and will not be subject to election at the Forum’s annual meeting.
Three positions on the Steering Committee will be tied to particular jobs:
Chairperson: responsible for convening and chairing Steering Committee meetings, chairing the annual meeting, and generally supporting and facilitating the activities of the Forum.
Secretary-Treasurer: responsible for maintaining mailing lists and membership directory, collecting membership fees, maintaining a bank or credit union account, and presenting a financial report to each annual meeting.
Newsletter Editor: responsible for collecting information, assembling, and publishing a periodic membership newsletter.
Separate elections will be held for each of these three positions. Candidates must be nominated and seconded by members attending the annual meeting. If there is more than one candidate for any position, members in attendance will vote by secret ballot. The candidate attracting the most votes will be elected. If there is only one candidate for a position, that candidate will be elected by acclamation.
Four additional members of the Steering Committee will be elected at large. Candidates must be nominated and seconded by members attending the annual meeting. If there are more candidates for members at large than there are vacant positions, members in attendance will vote by secret ballot. The candidates attracting the most votes will be declared the winner. If the number of candidates equals the number of vacant at-large positions, those candidates will be elected by acclamation.
The Steering Committee is empowered to recruit additional members to improve participation or representation. These seconded members would serve until the next annual meeting when they may choose to run for election.
All members of the founding Steering Committee will be elected at the Forum’s founding meeting in May, 1998. Of these members, the Chairperson, the Secretary-Treasurer, and two members at large will serve regular two-year terms. The Newsletter Editor and the other members-at-large will serve special 1-year terms; their elections will be repeated at the 1999 annual meeting.
If Steering Committee positions become vacant due to resignation or other reason, the schedule of elections can be adjusted as needed.
Notice of upcoming elections will be published in the newsletter at least one month prior to each annual meeting.
Responsibilities of the Steering Committee will include overseeing the organization’s finances, maintaining a membership list, publishing the newsletter and a membership directory, organizing the annual meeting, and undertaking other activities as the time, energy, and funding base of the Forum allows.
All Steering Committee members will be individually active in promoting the Forum and its activities, including soliciting new members.
Decisions of the Steering Committee may be made through e-mail consultation, conference calls, and/or in-person meetings as the Committee collectively sees fit. The Steering Committee will hold at least one formal in-person meeting per year, in conjunction with each annual meeting.
It will be the responsibility of the Chairperson to ensure that the Committee follows an inclusive and democratic decision-making process. The Committee will endeavour to make its decisions by consensus. Failing consensus, all Committee decisions must be approved by an absolute majority of current Committee members.
Membership and Dues:
Membership in the Forum is open to all individuals who pay the annual membership fee.
The annual membership fee is $30, or $15 for full-time students, unemployed persons, and retired persons.
Basic membership will include a subscription to the Forum’s newsletter and a copy of the membership directory.
As decided by the steering committee, additional services and publications may be developed and provided to members, at extra cost if appropriate.
The Secretary-Treasurer will maintain a bank or credit union account in the Forum’s name, with co-signing authority held by one other member of the Steering Committee. The Secretary-Treasurer will present a financial report to each annual meeting, including an accounting of all sources and uses of funds.
Proposed changes to this constitution (including changes to the fee structure) must be moved and seconded by members of the Forum, and published in the Forum newsletter at least one month prior to the annual meeting at which the proposed change is considered.
Changes to this constitution (including changes to the fee structure) must be approved by at least two-thirds of the members attending the annual meeting.