Research project examines Trans Mountain Expansion debate

Wade-Wright_new.jpgProfessor Wade Wright is the recipient of the 2019 Dean’s Research Fellowship for his project, “Democracy and Dissent in Canada’s Federal System: Lessons from the Interprovincial Pipeline Debate.”

This timely project will explore the debate which has erupted in recent years around proposals to build new or modify existing interprovincial pipelines, like the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

Wright will look at neglected issues in Canadian federalism, and provide important insight into the roles that federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous decision-makers are playing in relation to federally-regulated interprovincial pipelines.

“The conventional view has long been that the federal government has the exclusive – or at least primary - jurisdiction to regulate interprovincial pipelines,” says Wright, an Assistant Professor at Western Law who researches in the areas of constitutional and administrative law.

“However, in recent years other governments – provincial, municipal and Indigenous - have become alternative sites for engagement, and for dissent about federal decision-making,” he says. “This project will provide insights into what this might suggest for the health and future of federalism in Canada, and the role it might play in helping to secure justice for Indigenous communities.”

The Dean’s Fellowship, valued at $10,000, was established by Dean Erika Chamberlain in 2018 to enhance the faculty’s research program and engage students in leading-edge research.

“Professor Wright’s project will provide important insight into the health of the administrative state and democratic institutions in Canada,” Chamberlain said. “The adjudication committee was impressed by his focus on a current issue of national importance and by the critical methodologies he proposed. We look forward to seeing the results of his research.”