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John Loxley teaching

John Loxley, ‘Canada’s economist answer to Robin Hood,’ has died

July 31, 2020 — 

Beloved and renowned UM professor of economics John Loxley has died at the age of 77. His great personality and intellect will be missed.

Globally respected for his work focused on community development in poorer nations, the Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada was recognized with many honours over his long career, including the Galbraith Prize in Economics and Social Justice, by the Progressive Economists’ Forum in 2010, and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Distinguished Academic Award in 2008. 

Such a mark on global society has been noted by many, including here in Winnipeg, where Martin Cash at the Winnipeg Free Press wrote a story. An excerpt:

Tributes poured in on Twitter referring to him as the “father of the alternative budget/participatory budgeting movement in Canada” and “Canada’s economist answer to Robin Hood.”

Loxley served as an economic adviser to the governments of Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Mozambique and Manitoba. He also advised the African National Congress’s first government of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

He was long associated in Winnipeg with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, where he was named the 8th Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues just last fall.

Lynne Fernandez of the CCPA wrote at the time: “John’s commitment to social justice can be traced to his childhood in Sheffield, England, where he was born into a large, working-class family. He learned at a young age that families with low incomes could thrive if supports like access to education, proper housing and food supplements were in place.”

Jeffery Taylor, dean of arts at the U of M, said: “It is an incredible shock to learn of John’s passing. He has made a significant contribution to the province of Manitoba, the University of Manitoba, and, indeed, the national and international communities over the past 50 years. He was incredibly dedicated to the work that he did as an educator and an activist.”

Loxley had a broad and deep impact in Manitoba, advising NDP governments here and then throughout his career at the U of M. He was the principal investigator in a large study examining poverty in inner city and Indigenous communities in 2012 and was a highly sought after adviser to First Nations agencies.


3 comments on “John Loxley, ‘Canada’s economist answer to Robin Hood,’ has died

  1. Debby Fiorucci

    I’m so sorry to hear of John’s death. I worked with him in Economics several years ago and found him to be a very pleasant and professional person. He will be greatly missed.

  2. Ron

    All his old mates will miss him he always came to see us in local pub when he was in Sheffield my thoughts are with his friends and family goodbye John

  3. Vali Jamal PhD

    I write as a friend of John Loxley and co-author with him on two ILO papers. His passing on is almost the closure of an era when questions of poverty reduction and income inequalities figured in many economists’ writings. That era is gone as the 0.001% of the world who control world economies and fund research at universities do not favour such research. In the 1970s and 1980s the ILO had a strong programme called the World Employment Programme (WEP) which fought for equitable economic growth. We (I was Senior Economist with ILO from 1976 to 2001) did many missions to African countries to advise on this as against the IMF and the World Bank’s one-size-fits-all Structural Adjustment Programmes in which minimum-wages were held out as the cause of the crisis that most African countries were facing at mid-1970s. John did a study of Zambia under that programme for an ILO book I brought out and then John and I did a paper on Guyana, also for the ILO. Both the papers are heavily cited. The WEP programme was inaugurated in 1969 with Dharam Ghai and Louis Emmerij as the guiding lights. Keith Griffin was with WEP at its start. Many other eminent economists were incorporated into the programme, among them names like Hans Singer, Dudley Seers, Ajit Singh, Manfred Bienefeld, Paul Collier, Ashwani Saith, Reg Green, and Richard Jolly. That programme too no longer exists, but I was struck it is a live issue at UNDP with their Human Development Report for 2019 dedicated to that subject.
    I knew John at Makerere, indirectly through Zeeba Loxley who became his girl friend there and then his wife. I had come down from my BA Economics at Cambridge and worked at Uganda’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Zeeba and a friend Yasmin became friends with a cousin of mine Mohammed and I. He had a car and we had the other resources! John won Zeeba!
    John came from a working-class background in England, when class decided lifetime outcomes for people. He never forgot that humble start, which contributed to his lifelong struggle for underprivileged people in Africa and Canada. He stayed in contact with me on and off all these years and then in the last thirteen years of my writing a book about us Uganda Asians based on our expulsion form Uganda in 1972. The cause was income inequality along racial lines, something I have documented in my book from my PhD at Stanford, 1976, and research at the ILO from 1976 to 2001. The economy is in a major decline right now on account of the decline in all the four external factors that drive Uganda’s economy – exports, tourism, remittances (from workers abroad) and FDI. The effects have been compounded by the five-month long enforced lockdown (now lifted). Almost 90% of the population have fallen below the $2 per day poverty line. I had written about that to John at mid-time, lamenting the total lack of coverage in Canadian media, given Canada’s special place in Uganda’s history in accepting eight thousand or so stateless Uganda Asians, with the intervention of the Aga Khan with his college mate PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Many were settled in Winnipeg! Hint?
    Prayers for the eternal rest of the departed soul.
    Vali Jamal, Kampala, Uganda

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