The Neoliberal Tourist
Affect, Policy and Economy in the Canadian North
Throughout his tenure as Prime Minster of Canada (2006-2015), Stephen Harper had a particular fascination with the Canadian North, illustrated in part by his annual tours of the Canadian Arctic and Subarctic region. Using these tours as a case study, this paper argues that state discourses of sovereignty, resource development, and climate change are intertwined with the simultaneous production of a tourist landscape. This tourist landscape is established in part through the circulation of affect within state discourses, like those engaged by Harper on his northern tours. The affective economies of tourism in the Canadian Arctic are heavily intertwined with both market-focused policy objectives and the moral imperative established by climate change. The result is a discourse of northern Canada that puts it within the purview of southern Canada. In particular, the affective, economic, and ecological dynamics in northern Canada produce an image of the North as both a playground for southern desires and a place in danger that is in need of saving. This moral economy in the North proposes market-based solutions and ethics for both economic and environmental problems.
Boardman, Anthony and Aidan Vining. 2012. A Review and Assessment of Privatization in Canada. The School of Public Policy Research Papers, 5(4): 1-32.
Borgerson, Scott. 2013. The coming Arctic boom: as the ice melts, the region heats up. Foreign Affairs. 92(4): 76-89.
Boutilier, Alex. 2014. ‘We’re Going to Find’ Franklin Expedition, Stephen Harper Vows. Toronto Star, August 25.
Briner, Jason P., Nicholas P. McKay, Yarrow Axford, Ole Bennike, Raymond S. Bradley, Anne de Vernal, David Fisher et al. 2006. Holocene Climate Change in Arctic Canada and Greenland. Quaternary Science Reviews 147: 340-364.
Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the demos: Neoliberalism's stealth revolution. Boston: MIT Press.
Büscher, Bram. 2013. Nature on the Move: The Value and Circulation of Liquid Nature and the Emergence of Fictitious Conservation. New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry 6(1–2): 20–36.
Büscher, Bram, Sian Sullivan, Katja Neves, Jim Igoe, and Dan Brockington. 2012. Towards a Synthesized Critique of Neoliberal Biodiversity Conservation. Capitalism Nature Socialism 23(2): 4–30.
Büscher, Bram, and Veronica Davidov. 2013. Introduction: The Ecotourism-Extraction Nexus. In Bram Büscher & Veronica Davidov (eds), The ecotourism-extraction nexus: Political economies and rural realities of (un) comfortable bedfellows. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-16.
Byers, Michael. 2010. Who Owns the Arctic? Understanding Sovereignty Disputes in the North. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.
Cameron, Emilie. 2015. Far off Metal River: Inuit Lands, Settler Stories, and the Making of the Contemporary Arctic. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Cameron, Emilie, and Tyler Levitan. 2012. Impact and Benefit Agreements and the Neoliberalization of Resource Governance and Indigenous-State Relations in Northern Canada. Studies in Political Economy 93(1): 25-52.
Castree, Noel. 2010. Neoliberalism and the Biophysical Environment 1: What ‘Neoliberalism’Is, and What Difference Nature Makes to It. Geography Compass 4(12): 1725–1733.
Chase, Stephen. 2014. Myth Versus Reality in Stephen Harper’s Northern Strategy. The Globe and Mail, January 17.
Coates, Kenneth, and Greg Poelzer. 2014. An Unfinished Nation: Completing the Devolution Revolution in Canada's North. Ottawa: Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy.
Dempsey, Jessica. 2016. Enterprising Nature: Economics, Markets, and Finance in Global Biodiversity Politics. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.
Den Tandt, Michael. 2014. Harper Uses Mystery Surrounding Sir John Franklin as Symbol of Arctic Development. National Post, August 25th.
Desbiens, Caroline. 2013. Power from the North: Territory, identity, and the Culture of Hydroelectricity in Québec. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Dickerson, Mark. 1992. Whose North? Political Change, Political Development, and Self-government in the Northwest Territories. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Dodds, Klaus. 2011. We Are a Northern Country: Stephen Harper and the Canadian Arctic. Polar Record 47 (4): 371-374.
Dodds, Klaus. 2012. Graduated and Paternal Sovereignty: Stephen Harper, Operation Nanook 10, and the Canadian Arctic. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 30(6): 989-1010.
Dokis, Carly A. 2015. Where the Rivers Meet: Pipelines, Participatory resource Management, and Aboriginal-State Relations in the Northwest Territories. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Dolata, Petra. 2015. A New Canada in the Arctic? Arctic Policies Under Harper. Études Canadiennes/Canadian Studies 78: 131-154.
Duffy, Rosaleen. 2013. The International Political Economy of Tourism and the Neoliberalisation of Nature: Challenges Posed by Selling Close Interactions with Animals. Review of International Political Economy 20 (3): 605–626.
Duffy, Rosaleen. 2015. Nature-Based Tourism and Neoliberalism: Concealing Contradictions. Tourism Geographies 17 (4): 529–543.
Duffy, Rosaleen, and Lorraine Moore. 2010. Neoliberalising Nature? Elephant-Back Tourism in Thailand and Botswana. Antipode 42 (3): 742–766.
Erickson, Bruce. 2011. Recreational Activism: Politics, Nature, and the Rise of Neoliberalism. Leisure Studies 30 (4): 477–94.
Emmerson, Charles. 2011. The Future History of the Arctic. Random House: New York.
Farish, Matthew, and P. Whitney Lackenbauer. 2009. High modernism in the Arctic: planning Frobisher Bay and Inuvik. Journal of Historical Geography 35(3): 517-544.
Fletcher, Robert. 2012. Using the Master’s Tools? Neoliberal Conservation and the Evasion of Inequality. Development and Change 43 (1): 295–317.
———. 2015. Nature Is a Nice Place to Save but I Wouldn’t Want to Live There: Environmental Education and the Ecotourist Gaze. Environmental Education Research 21 (3): 338–350.
———. 2019. Ecotourism after Nature: Anthropocene Tourism as a New Capitalist ‘Fix.’ Journal of Sustainable Tourism 27 (4): 522–535.
Fletcher, Robert, Wolfram Dressler, and Bram Büscher. 2015. “NatureTM Inc.: Nature as Neoliberal Capitalist Imaginary.” In The International Handbook of Political Ecology, Robert Bryant (Ed). Edward Elgar: Northhampton, MA, pp. 359-372.
Ford, James D., Graham McDowell, and Julie Jones. 2014. The state of climate change adaptation in the Arctic. Environmental Research Letters 9(10): 104005.
Foucault, Michel. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège du France, 1978-79. Translated by Graham Buchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Galloway, Tracy. 2014. Is the Nutrition North Canada retail subsidy program meeting the goal of making nutritious and perishable food more accessible and affordable in the North. Canadian Journal of Public Health 105(5): e395-97.
Grant, Shelagh. 2016. ‘Errors Exposed’: Inuit Relocations to the High Arctic, 1953-1960. Calgary: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies.
Harper, Stephen, 2008. Geo-mapping for Northern Energy and Minerals Program. (Speech, Ottawa, ON, August 26). http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2008/08/26/prime-minister-harper-announces-geo-mapping-northern-energy-and-minerals-program#sthash.umqGLyog.dpuf
Harper, Stephen. 2012a. Remarks in Churchill, Manitoba. (Speech, Churchill, MB, August 24). http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2012/08/24/pm-delivers-remarks-churchill-manitoba#sthash.ffUY2dU4.dpuf
Harper, Stephen. 2013a. Remarks in Whitehorse, Yukon. (Speech, Whitehorse, 19 August). http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2013/08/19/pm-delivers-remarks-whitehorse-yukon#sthash.Q7kKHQfQ.dpuf
Harper, Stephen. 2013b. Remarks in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. (Speech Rankin Inlet, NU, August 22). http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2013/08/22/pm-delivers-remarks-rankin-inlet-nunavut#sthash.DViinLti.dpuf
Harper, Stephen. 2014. Remarks in York Sound, Nunavut. (Speech, York Sound, NU, August 26). http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2014/08/26/pm-delivers-remarks-york-sound#sthash.MPKNFwe5.dpuf
Hinzman, Larry D., Neil D. Bettez, W. Robert Bolton, F. Stuart Chapin, Mark B. Dyurgerov, Chris L. Fastie, Brad Griffith et al. 2005. Evidence and Implications of Recent Climate Change in Northern Alaska and other Arctic Regions. Climatic change 72(3): 251-298.
Hulan, Renée. 2002. Northern Experience and the Myths of Canadian Culture. McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP: Montreal.
Hulan, Renée. 2018. Climate Change and Writing the Canadian Arctic. Palgrave Pivot.
Heynen, Nik, and Paul Robbins. 2005. The Neoliberalization of Nature: Governance, Privatization, Enclosure and Valuation. Capitalism Nature Socialism 16 (1): 5–8.
Igoe, Jim. 2013. Nature on the Move II: Contemplation Becomes Speculation. New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry 6 (1–2): 37–49.
———. 2017. The Nature of Spectacle: On Images, Money, and Conserving Capitalism. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Keeling, Arn, and Sandlos, John. 2009. Environmental Justice Goes Underground? Historical Notes from Canada's Northern Mining Frontier. Environmental Justice, 2(3): 117-125.
Klein, Naomi. 2015. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Keul, Adam. 2014. Tourism Neoliberalism and the Swamp as Enterprise. Area 46 (3): 235–241.
Kulchyski, Peter, and Warren Bernauer. 2014. Modern Treaties, Extraction, and Imperialism in Canada’s Indigenous North: Two Case Studies. Studies in Political Economy 93(1): 3-24.
Larner, Wendy. 2003. Neoliberalism? Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 21, 509-512.
Leacock, Stephen. (1936) 2004. I’ll Stay in Canada. In On the Front Line of Life. Leacock, Stephen, and Alan Bowker, 175-179. Dundurn Press, 2004.
Marcus, Alan. 1995. Relocating Eden: The Image and Politics of Inuit Exile in the Canadian Arctic. Hanover: University Press of New England.
McCarthy, James, and Scott Prudham. 2004. Neoliberal Nature and the Nature of Neoliberalism. Geoforum 35 (3): 275–283.
Medalye, Jacqueline, and Ryan Foster. 2012. Climate Change and the Capitalist State in the Canadian Arctic: Interrogating Canada’s “Northern Strategy”. Studies in Political Economy 90 (1): 87-114.
Melamed, Jodi. 2015. Racial Capitalism. Critical Ethnic Studies 1 (1): 76–85.
Mendoza, Marcos. 2018. The Patagonian Sublime: The Green Economy and Post-Neoliberal Politics. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. 2009. Canada’s Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada.
Mirowski, Philip. 2013. Never let a serious crisis go to waste: How neoliberalism survived the financial meltdown. New York: Verso Books.
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). 2009. True North: Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change in Northern Canada. Ottawa: NRTEE
Ojeda, Diana. 2012. Green Pretexts: Ecotourism, Neoliberal Conservation and Land Grabbing in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia. The Journal of Peasant Studies 39 (2): 357–75.
Page, Robert. 1986. Northern Development: The Canadian Dilemma. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.
Peck, Jamie. 2001. Neoliberalizing States: Thin Policies/Hard Outcomes. Progress in human geography 25(3): 445-455.
Peck, Jamie. 2010. Zombie Neoliberalism and the Ambidextrous State. Theoretical Criminology 14(1): 104-110.
Penashue, Tshaukuesh Elizabeth. 2019. Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive. Edited by Elizabeth Yeoman. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
Piper, Liza, and John Sandlos. 2007. A Broken Frontier: Ecological Imperialism in the Canadian North. Environmental History 12(4): 759-795.
Pringle, Heather. 2019. In 1845 explorers sought the Northwest Passage-Then vanished. National Geographic, September. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/2019/08/sir-john-franklin-searched-for-northwest-passage-then-vanished-feature/
Prudham, Scott. 2009. Pimping Climate Change: Richard Branson, Global Warming, and the Performance of Green Capitalism. Environment and planning A 41(7): 1594-1613.
Pulido, Laura. 2017. Geographies of Race and Ethnicity II: Environmental Racism, Racial Capitalism and State-Sanctioned Violence. Progress in Human Geography 41 (4): 524–533.
Qikiqtani Inuit Association. 2013. Nuutauniq: Moves in Inuit Life. Iqaluit, Nunavut: Inhabit Media.
Robertson, Morgan M. 2004. “The Neoliberalization of Ecosystem Services: Wetland Mitigation Banking and Problems in Environmental Governance.” Geoforum 35 (3): 361–373.
Robinson, Cedric. 1983. Black Marxism: The Making of a Black Radical Tradition. London: Zed Press.
Rose, Nikolas. 1996. The Death of the Social? Re-figuring the Territory of Government. International Journal of Human Resource Management 25(3): 327-356.
Salkin, Allen. 2007. Before it Disappears. New York Times, Dec 16. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/fashion/16disappear.html
Senate of Canada. 1888. Report of the Select Committee of the Senate into the Resources of the Great Mackenzie Basin. Ottawa: Brown Chamberlin.
Seton, Ernest Thompson. 1911. The Arctic Prairies: A Canoe-journey of 2,000 Miles in Search of the Caribou; Being the Account of a Voyage to the Region North of Aylmer Lake. New York: C. Scribner's Sons.
Sheller, Mimi and John Urry. 2004. Place to Play, Places in Play. In Mimi Sheller & John Urry (eds), Tourism Mobilities: Places to Play, Places in Play. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-10.
Simon, Mary. 2007. Sovereignty From the North. The Walrus. Accessed at https://thewalrus.ca/sovereignty-from-the-north/
Simon, Mary. 2012. How do Canada and Inuit get to Win-Win in the Arctic. Policy Options. Accessed at https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/policy-challenges-for-2020/how-do-canada-and-inuit-get-to-win-win-in-the-arctic/
Sullivan, Sian. 2013. Banking Nature? The Spectacular Financialisation of Environmental Conservation. Antipode 45 (1): 198–217.
Tester, Frank and Kulchyski, Peter. 1994. Tammarniit (Mistakes): Inuit Relocation in the Eastern Arctic, 1939-63. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Thompson, Elizabeth. 2014. Franklin Expedition Search Cost Twice as Much as Harper Government Claimed. IPolitics, Aug. 14. https://ipolitics.ca/2015/08/14/franklin-expedition-search-cost-twice-as-much-as-harper-government-claimed/
Vallely, Kevin. 2017. Rowing the Northwest Passage: Adventure, Fear, and Awe in a Rising Sea. Vancouver: Greystone Books.
Watt-Cloutier, S. 2015. The Right to be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet. Penguin: Toronto.
Warde, Paul. 2018. Constructing Arctic Energy Resources: The Case of the Canadian North, 1921–1980. In Nina Wormbs (ed), Competing Arctic Futures. Palgrave Macmillan: Cham, pp. 19-46.
Werry, Margaret. 2011. The Tourist State: Performing Leisure, Liberalism, and Race in New Zealand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.
Yudina, Olga, Bryan Grimwood, Lisbeth A. Berbary, and Heather Mair. 2018. The Gendered Natures of Polar Bear Tourism. Tourism Culture & Communication 18(1): 51-66.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors agree to publish their articles in ACME under the Creative Commons "Attribution/Non-Commercial/No Derivative Works" Canada licence. To read and review the agreement, click here. In line with fair attribution and proper permissions, note any copyrights of materials cited in your paper. Do not use materials that are not fair use without express written consent.