Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

Reflections on Resistance to Neoliberalism: Looking Back on Solidarity in 1983 British Columbia

Document type Article
Author Shields, John
Author Richmond, Ted
Journal Socialist Studies / Études socialistes
Volume 7
Date 2011 07 23
ISSN 1918-2821
Pages 216-237


This article critically examines the 1983 British Columbia (BC) Solidarity experience, a period that marked the first comprehensive neoliberal policy revolution in Canada. It also marked the launch of an extensive movement of extra‐parliamentary resistance to neoliberal attempts to undo social and economic gains achieved during the period of Keynesian consensus. The character of this progressive movement of trade unions, social groups and civil society was however limited to “defensive defiance”. A number of questions are posed such as: What was the nature of the resistance to neoliberalism in BC in 1983, and to what extent did it succeed? Leftist analysts hotly debated these questions at the time, and a review in hindsight of their views is instructive. And to what degree have the neoliberal agenda and strategy and tactics changed in the ensuing years? Our review in this article suggests both a remarkable continuity and some fundamental changes. Analysis of these events therefore remains historically relevant to those concerned with pan‐Canadian political trends.