It is with great sadness that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives mourns the passing of Dr. John Loxley in Winnipeg, Manitoba on July 28, 2020.
John was deeply committed to building a more equitable world and his contribution to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) nationally and provincially was a testament to that commitment.
John was internationally recognized as an expert in economics and international development and had strong connections in Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa where he previously worked and taught. This background, along with his research for Canada’s First Nations and decade-long collaboration with members of Winnipeg’s Inner City and social justice groups made John an ideal leader for the Manitoba Research Alliance (MRA), a group of community organizations and academics dedicated to exploring how to improve the lives of those living in marginalized communities. Through his leadership, the MRA secured an impressive four large research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. More importantly, though, was John’s capacity to utilize those funds in service of the community. John understood the foundational importance of relationships with community-based organizations. With his colleagues he ensured that the MRA remained true to this approach. The MRA is one of very few SSHRC funded projects to be led by a community-based research institution, in this case the CCPA, bringing university academics together with community-based organizations, to pursue a research agenda toward progressive policy change.
In the 1990s, John started the alternative budgeting movement in Winnipeg through the social justice group CHO!CES and helped move the idea to national significance at CCPA’s Ottawa office. This year, the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget series celebrated its 25th year, including the publication of a COVID-19 Recovery Plan—projects put in motion by John’s early work. Similarly, his research on public/private partnerships and social impact bonds has been invaluable to the Canadian labour movement and CCPA offices across Canada. John was honoured last fall at the Errol Black Labour Issues Brunch for his many contributions to the progressive movement in Manitoba.
As a professor of economics at the University of Manitoba, John had a profound effect on many students who went on to work in government, labour, non-profit and academia. He had a significant effect on Manitoba’s government policy, borne of his conviction that government could and should make people’s lives better. He demonstrated, through his public finance expertise and work with the First Nations Child and Caring Society, how Canada could vastly improve the lives of First Nations children.
Brilliant as John was, most will remember him first as a friend, mentor and ally. Always humble, always ready to support his extensive network of friends, few thought of him simply as a colleague. He enriched the lives of those around him, from his soccer mates to Inner City activists, to students and fellow academics.
John’s influence lives throughout Canada’s progressive community, and his legacy will light the way for future generations of academics and social and political activists.
Erika Shaker, National Office Director and Molly McCracken Manitoba Office Director