Public Interest Alberta's 12th annual advocacy conference

April 5-6, 2018
Chateau Louis Conference Centre, Edmonton (April 4 in Calgary)
Conference Hashtag: #PIAConf

Keynote Presentation

Alex Himelfarb

Alex Himelfarb
Rebalancing Power: Collective Action for the Common Good

Alex Himelfarb is Professor Emeritus of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs. A federal public servant for twenty-eight years before his retirement in 2009, he served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet for three prime ministers, as Canada’s Ambassador to Italy, as Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, and in senior positions in numerous ministries and agencies. You can also check out Alex's personal blog.

Keynote description

The directions of low taxes, deregulation, privatization, wealth inequality, and deunionization have been embraced by governments around the world for decades, united under the ideology of neoliberalism. Those ideas are now being increasingly questioned in public discourse, but a new, cohesive story to replace them has yet to be written. Alex Himelfarb’s keynote address will explore how we reassert the power of working people, provide economic security in a time of precarious work, and rebuild the collective action toolkit we will need to move these ideas forward.

**To purchase tickets solely for the Calgary (April 4) or Edmonton (April 5) keynote event, register at our dedicated Edmonton and Calgary event pages. If you're registering for the entire conference (which includes the keynote in either Edmonton or Calgary), proceed to the bottom of the page to register.

Closing Keynote Presentation


Diana Gibson

Diana Gibson is a social scientist who has published extensively and provided social commentary on labour and social justice issues ranging from tax fairness and health care reform to the socioeconomic impacts of pipelines for First Nations. She is a Principal with PolicyLink Research Canada, a Distinguished Research Advisor with the Parkland Institute, a Research Associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and a founder and communications advisor with Canadians for Tax Fairness. Diana is also a social entrepreneur who has started multiple successful cooperatives and mission-driven businesses including founding The Firelight Group of which she is a former CEO and Director.

Conference Overview

In the final year before Alberta’s next provincial election, both citizens and political parties will need to decide which direction we want to take our province. Do we go backward by taking the regressive approach of massive cuts to public services, growing poverty, and greater income inequality? Or do we go forward in progressive directions by increasing government revenue through fair taxation, revitalizing public services, and strengthening our democracy?

Public Interest Alberta’s 12th annual advocacy conference will explore such important topics as climate change, reconciliation, democracy, and tax revenue. It will include workshops aimed at action to improve our public services, including child care, education, post-secondary education, seniors care, health care, and human services and poverty. Join activists and advocates from across the province as we come together with the aim of guiding Alberta on the road to greater fairness, justice, and equality.

Registration closes March 28, 2018.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding registration, please contact our office at 780-420-0471 or


Wednesday, April 4th (Calgary):

7:00 pm - Keynote address by Alex Himelfarb

Thursday, April 5th (Edmonton):

1:30 - 4:00 pm - Pre-Conference Workshop: Understanding Provincial Budgets and Tax Revenue featuring Diana Gibson and Alex Himelfarb

7:00 pm - Keynote address by Alex Himelfarb

8:30 pm - Reception with Alex Himelfarb

Friday, April 6th (Edmonton):

9:00 am - 5:00 pm - Full-day conference with closing keynote address by Diana Gibson


Conference Speakers


Lewis Cardinal

Lewis Cardinal is a communicator and educator, he has dedicated his life’s work to creating and maintaining connections and relationships that cross-cultural divides. His work has mirrored his personal vision of a socially just and responsive society. His long track record of public service includes, founding Board Member of Alberta Aboriginal Arts, Board Member of Theatre Network, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Commission for Human Rights and Justice, and Trustee of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions, just to mention a few. Lewis has received Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for Public Service, the IndSpire Award for Public Service (the highest award given to an Indigenous person by Indigenous people in Canada), the Province of Alberta’s Centennial Medal for his work in Human Rights and Diversity, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Grant MacEwan University, and was recently conferred the Honorary Degree of “Doctor of Sacred Letters” from St. Stephen’s College at the University of Alberta. Lewis’s consulting company, Cardinal Strategic Communications, specializes in Indigenous Education, Governance, and Communications.


Jennifer Tupper, Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta

Jennifer received her B.Ed. from the University of Alberta in 1994, her M.Ed. from the University of British Columbia in 1998 and her PhD from the U of A in 2004. She has been a high school teacher, curriculum consultant, teacher educator, associate dean and dean. Her research in citizenship education, treaty education, and anti-colonial education has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Stirling McDowell Foundation. Her current interests include Faculties of Education responses to the TRC Calls to Action, and how schools can become sites for truth and reconciliation. Jennifer has two daughters, Alise (9 years old) and Ayla (16 years old) both of whom have strong social justice orientations.


Charlene Bearhead

Charlene Bearhead is a mother, grandmother, experienced educator and education innovator with 30 years of regional, national and international experience. Charlene currently serves as the Education Coordinator for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Education Advisory to the National Film Board, Education Consultant to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, volunteers a member of the Downie-Wenjack Fund and the Pathways to Education Canada Indigenous Education Advisory Circles. Ms. Bearhead also works to support the Alberta Schools Board Association and the College of Alberta School Superintendents for the Alberta Joint Commitment to Action: Education for Reconciliation.

Charlene most recently served as the first Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. Prior to that she was the National Coordinator for Project of Heart, and for the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation. Ms. Bearhead also coordinated the Education Days within the TRC National Events for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Charlene has served as a teacher, principal, education director and superintendent, both on and off reserve, over the years and holds permanent teaching certificates from both Alberta and Manitoba.


Kevin Taft

Kevin Taft holds a Ph.D. in Business and is the author of five best-selling books and many research studies and articles on political and economic issues in Alberta. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta with the Alberta Liberal Party from 2001 to 2012, and Leader of the Opposition from 2004 to 2008. He has extensive public policy experience in the Alberta government, private sector, and the non-profit sector, particularly in health, energy, and economic policy. He lives in Edmonton.


Laurie Adkin, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta

Laurie Adkin is a professor of political science at the University of Alberta. She teaches and researches in the areas of comparative politics, Canadian environmental policy, and citizen involvement in policy-making. Her recent work has focused on the political economy of Alberta, including First World Petro-Politics: The Political Ecology and Governance of Alberta, and “Crossroads in Alberta: Climate Capitalism or Ecological Democracy?” She is currently working on a study of the implications of government innovation policy and funding to universities for societal transition to a post-carbon future. For more details, visit her homepage.


Nikki Way

Edmonton and focusing on fossil fuel development in Alberta. She joined the Institute in 2015 to aid in the completion of the Landowner’s Guide to Oil and Gas Development, the Pembina Institute’s largest publication to date outlining for residents near oil and gas development in Alberta how the industry is developed and regulated. More recently, she has also conducted research on participatory rights for affected citizens near energy development, the province's growing liability from oil and gas facilities, and the province’s caribou range planning within the oilsands region.

She is interested in how the provincial discourse around the energy industry can shift to encourage discussion on managing the province’s decarbonization and encouraging real diversification and innovation for the 21st century.

Hotel Accommodation

The conference is being held at the Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre (11727 Kingsway Ave NW, Edmonton)

Accommodation at the Chateau Louis Hotel:
    $119 Queen single occupancy
    $129 King single occupancy
    $131 Queen double occupancy
    $141 King double occupancy
    $175 Queen 2 beds, up to four people

A full breakfast buffet is included with all rooms. Phone the hotel at 780-452-7770 or 1-800-661-9843 and mention that you are attending our conference to receive the preferred rates listed above. You can also register online and enter the group code 1804PUBLIC to receive the discount.


Information for the conference location, time, and registration is below. Current members of Public Interest Alberta are eligible to register with a conference discount. If you wish to become a member or need to renew, please visit our Members area to sign up.

Conference Location and Time


April 04, 2018 at 7pm - April 06, 2018


Chateau Louis Conference Centre
11727 Kingsway NW
Edmonton, AB T5G 3A1
Google map and directions


Monica Walker · · (780) 420-0471

Will you come?

$180.00 Full conference and keynote - for non-members

Registration includes attendance for the full conference as well as the keynote speaker.

$140.00 Full conference and keynote - for Public Interest Alberta members

Registration includes attendance for the full conference as well as the keynote speaker.

$20.00 Keynote speaker registration - extra tickets

Registration for extra tickets to only the keynote event.