The Institute for Liberal Studies hosts a variety of seminars, lectures, and conferences. Our flagship events include Freedom WeekSocratic Seminars, and the Liberty Summer Seminar. If you would like to be notified about upcoming events please subscribe to our email newsletter. Unless otherwise noted, all events are free of charge and open to all.

Upcoming Events

October 23, 2017 – Toronto, ON

Matt Bufton: Why Politicians Screw You and Reward Their Friends (University of Toronto)

Many people feel that special interests get favours from government at the expense of the average person. But voters elect new politicians every few years, and most politicians are desperately trying to appeal to voters. So why do they put your interests behind those of the special interests? ILS Executive Director Matt Bufton will speak about how public choice theory explains why your political representatives are screwing you and rewarding their friends, and what you can do to fight back. This event will take place in the Claude T. Bissell Building, Room 114 at 3:00 p.m. It is being co-hosted by Students for Liberty Canada and the Institute for Liberal Studies. Register here for this event.

November 1, 2017 – Ottawa, ON

Jay Cameron: Freedom of Association: The Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses v. Randy Wall (University of Ottawa)

Through discussing the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses v. Randy Wall case currently before the Supreme Court of Canada, Jay Cameron will argue that freedom of association under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of private, voluntary associations, including the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, to determine membership criteria, to determine which individuals meet the criteria for membership, and to enforce these membership criteria, immune from judicial review. Jay Cameron is the Litigation Manager at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is an intervenor on this case before the Supreme Court of Canada. Cameron earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Burman University in Alberta, and an LLB from the University of New Brunswick.  He has worked for the Attorney General of British Columbia as a provincial Crown Prosecutor, and has appeared at every level of Court in Alberta, as well as the British Columbia Supreme Court.  This event is being co-hosted by the University of Ottawa Runnymede Society. Register here for this event.

November 2, 2017 – Vancouver, BC

Amir A. Nasr: The current political climate in the U.S.: Soft Power vs. Hard Power (University of British Columbia)

Amir A. Nasr will be speaking on the topic of the current political climate in the United States, specifically the distinction between American hard power vs. soft power as a framework to understanding the policy shifts underway beneath the surface. In his assessment of soft power, Amir will to focus on America’s domestic policies as well as its diplomatic relations, prestige, academia, and pop culture, from the perspective of the world. Amir A. Nasr, also known by his stage name DRIMA, is a Sudanese-born Canadian author, storyteller, producer, singer-songwriter, recording artist, and Director of business storytelling consultancy Assertive & Co. He is the author of the critically acclaimed and banned memoir My Isl@m. Nasr is also the founding member of the artist collective A Tribe Called Story and the host of its podcast series. This talk will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Liu Institute for Global Issues Multipurpose Room. This event is being co-hosted by the UBC International Relations Students Association. Register here for this event.

November 14, 2017 – Montreal, QC

Jason Sorens: Immanuel Kant as a Philosopher of Freedom (Concordia University)

Some interpreters have charged Kant with legal positivism or even authoritarianism, while others have tried to derive a strongly egalitarian politics from Kant’s moral philosophy. But Kant’s moral and political theory is most naturally and consistently read as Enlightenment classical liberalism, and his key insights are still relevant to problems in political philosophy. Jason Sorens is a lecturer in the Department of Government and Program Director of the Political Economy Project at Dartmouth College. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. This talk is co-hosted with the Concordia Students of Philosophy AssociationThis talk will take place at 3:00 p.m. in a room TBA.  Register here for this event.

November 14, 2017 – Montreal, QC

Jason Sorens: Catalan Independence: Rule of Law Versus Right to Decide  (McGill University)

Catalonia held a chaotic independence referendum on October 1, which the Spanish government tried to suppress. What are the political and moral issues at stake in this confrontation between consent- and law-based accounts of legitimate rule? Professor Jason Sorens will be speaking on the topic of secessionism and the Catalan independence referendum. Jason Sorens is a lecturer in the Department of Government and Program Director of the Political Economy Project at Dartmouth College. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. This talk is being held in collaboration with the Research Group on Constitutional Studies at McGillThis talk will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the Bronfman Building, Room 423.  Register here for this event.

November 16, 2017 – Prince George, BC

Moin Yahya: Thinking About When, How, and Where to Legally Limit Free Speech (University of Northern British Columbia)

Moin Yahya will examine various legal cases that have dealt with free speech in both Canada and the US. By looking at when courts have limited speech in the past, the goal is to see if we can generate a consistent model of how much protection speech should get. Some philosophical aspects of free speech will also be discussed as well as examples from current events. Dr. Yahya has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Toronto, and a J.D. (Summa Cum Laude) from George Mason University School of Law, where he was a Robert A. Levy Fellow in Law and Liberty. Before attending law school, Yahya was employed with Industry Canada’s Competition Bureau, where he worked on various merger and civil non-merger issues. He has also been a member of the Alberta Utilities Commission and the selection advisory board of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. This event is being co-hosted by the UNBC Political Science Students’ Association, and will take place at 1:00 p.m. at the Weldwood Lecture Theatre, Room 7-238.  Register here for this event.

November 21, 2017 – Toronto, ON

Murray Bessette: The Hopes of Socialism: Liberty, Equality, Solidarity (University of Toronto)

Socialist revolutionaries have claimed that overcoming the bourgeois system would usher in a new way of life wherein the free development of each was a condition for the free development of all. Life in this classless society would be marked by liberty, equality, and solidarity. And yet, in each and every instance, politically empowered socialism has produced a system of servitude, inequality, and suspicion, where the life of a dissenter is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Socialism’s inevitable failure makes a critical re-examination of the means appropriate to the pursuit of these ends all the more important today. Dr. Murray Bessette is the director of academic programs at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining VOC, he was an associate professor of government at Morehead State University. Dr. Bessette holds a BA and MA in political science from University of Alberta, and an MA and PhD in political science from Claremont Graduate University. Time and Room Number TBA.  Register here for this event.

November 23, 2017 – St. John’s, NL

Nimish Adhia: Do Immigrants Steal Jobs? (Memorial University)

It may appear the economic competition posed by immigrants is detrimental to a domestic workforce. But economists have found the effects of immigrants on the economic well-being of the domestic workforce to be subtle, mutli-channeled, and surprising. Dr. Nimish Adhia will be speaking about how immigrants affect the job market. Nimish Adhia is an assistant professor of economics at Manhattanville College in New York. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he worked with the renowned economic historian Deirdre McCloskey. This event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Science Building, Room SN2036 .  Register here for this event.


February 9, 2018 – Calgary, AB

Peter Jaworski: Markets without Limits: How much for that kidney in the window? (University of Calgary)



May you sell your kidney? May you sell your blood plasma? Many people shudder at the thought. To put some goods and services up for sale offends human dignity. If everything is commodified, then nothing is sacred. The market corrodes our character. Or so many people say. In his talk, Peter Jaworski seeks to undermine all of these objections. If you may do it for free, then you may do it for money. Dr. Jaworski is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, DC., and is the co-author of “Markets without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests”. This talk is presented in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary, and will be taking place at 3:00 p.m. in the Philosophy Department Seminar Room.