Research

Public law seeks to understand and facilitate the relationships between individuals, groups, and the state. The Public Law Research Group (PLRG) strives to advance existing knowledge and understandings of these relationships through rigorous, bold scholarship.  At present, in response to notable gaps and persistent legal puzzles, the Group’s research agenda orients around two broad themes: pluralism and structuralism.  With its focus on pluralism, the PLRG explores the many and varied sites, sources, and modes of public law, testing the accuracy of dominant narratives.  With its focus on structuralism, the PLRG investigates the animating principles, assumptions, institutions, and other oft-neglected structural elements at work within a constitutional order, mapping architectures of governance, offering routes for institutional reform, and rethinking foundational matters like federalism and the constitutional amending formula.

This research agenda motivated the PLRG’s leadership role, along with Boston College Law School and the Public Law Group at the University of Ottawa, in convening an international conference on Rewriting the Canadian Constitution. In the spirit of big ideas, the conference was a call to reimagine the foundations of constitutionalism in Canada, sparking lively discussion and deep reflection on the character of Canada’s governing ideas. The tremendous explorations of reform emerging from the conference will be gathered in an edited collection to be published soon.

Western Law work exploring these themes of pluralism and structuralism

Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens, Elizabeth Steyn, Jean Leclair & Sébastien Brodeur-Girard, Part 2: “La Famille” in Gislain Otis, ed, Contributions à l’étude des systems juridiques autochtones et coutumiers (Presses de l’Université Laval, 2018). [forthcoming] 

Kate Glover, “The Impact of Constitutional References on Institutional Reform” in Emmett Macfarlane, ed., Policy Change, Courts and the Canadian Constitution (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018) [forthcoming].

Elizabeth Steyn, “Seeking Solutions in the Land of the Long White Cloud: The Whanganui River Settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand as Accommodative Measure” in Marie-Claire Foblets, Katayoun Alidadi & Dominik Müller, eds, (Re)designing Justice for Plural Societies: Accommodative Measures Put to the Test (Routledge, 2018) [forthcoming].

Wade K. Wright, “Provincial Non-enforcement of Constitutionally Suspect Federal Criminal Laws” in Richard Albert, Paul Daly and Vanessa MacDonnell, eds., The Canadian Constitution in Transition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018) [forthcoming].

John Borrows and Michael Coyle, eds., The Right Relationship: Reimagining the Implementation of Historical Treaties (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017).

Michael Coyle, "As Long As The Sun Shines … Recognizing That Treaties Were Intended To Last" in John Borrows and Michael Coyle, eds., The Right Relationship: Reimagining the Implementation of Historical Treaties (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017), 39-69.

Kate Glover, “The Principles and Practices of Procedural Fairness” in Colleen Flood &

Lorne Sossin, eds., Administrative Law in Context, 3d edition (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2017).

Kate Glover, “Hard Amendment Cases in Canada” in Richard Albert, Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou, eds., Foundations and Traditions of Constitutional Amendment (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2017).

Katayoun Alidadi, Jonathan Bernaerts, Petra Burai, Marie-Claire Foblets, Kalindi Kolal, Mareike Riedel & Elizabeth Steyn, “Which Law for Which Religion? Ethnographic Enquiries into the Limits of State Law vis-à-vis Lived Religion” (2016) 3 Zeitschrift für Rechtsphilosophie 237.

Kate Glover, “Structural Cooperative Federalism” (2016) SCLR (2d) 21.

Kate Glover, “The Supreme Court in Canada’s Constitutional Order” (2016) 20(2) Review of Constitutional Studies 143.

Wade K. Wright, "The Political Safeguards of Canadian Federalism" (2016) 36 NJCL 1-72.

Wade K. Wright, “Courts as Facilitators of Intergovernmental Dialogue: Cooperative Federalism and Judicial Review” (2016) 72 SCLR (2d) 365-454.

Erika Chamberlain, “When Unlawfulness Becomes Tortious: Misfeasance in a Public Office and Administrative Law” (2015) 44 Advocates’ Quarterly 489-508.

Kate Glover, “Complexity and the Amending Formula“ (2015) 24(2) Constitutional Forum 9.

Kate Glover, “The Supreme Court in a Pluralistic World: Four Readings of a Reference” (2015) 60(4) McGill LJ 839.

Wade K. Wright, “Of Banks, Federalism and Clear Statements: Comment on Bank of Montreal v. Marcotte” in Ben Berger and Sonia Lawrence, eds., (2015) 71 SCLR (2d) 185-225.

Past Themes

In recent years, the Group’s scholarly agenda has focused on other themes of public importance, making expansive and influential contributions on proportionality, originalist constitutional thought, and constitutional theory more broadly. This research has culminated in a number of impressive and often-cited collections published by Cambridge University Press.

Proportionality and the Rule of LawThe Challenge of OriginalismExpounding the Constitution

Public Law Research at Western

Western Law is an active hub of scholarly inquiry into the pressing questions of public law. Our faculty members are deeply engaged in conversations across the spectrum of public law, often pushing the frontiers of traditional categories and drawing links across notions of public and private law.

Recent public law work by Western Law scholars

Colin Campbell, “J.L. Ilsley and the Transition to the Post-War Tax System: 1943-1946” (2015) 63(1) Canadian Tax Journal 1-52.

Erika Chamberlain, “When Unlawfulness Becomes Tortious: Misfeasance in a Public Office and Administrative Law” (2015) 44 Advocates’ Quarterly 489-508.

Kate Glover, “Complexity and the Amending Formula“ (2015) 24(2) Constitutional Forum 9.

Kate Glover, “The Supreme Court in a Pluralistic World: Four Readings of a Reference” (2015) 60(4) McGill LJ 839.

Maritt Kirst et al. (with Robert Solomon), “A Common Public Health Oriented Policy Framework for Cannabis, Alcohol and Tobacco in Canada?” (2015) 106(8) Canadian Journal of Public Health 474-476.

Valerie Oosterveld, “The Special Court for Sierra Leone: Initial Structural and Procedural Decisions on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence” (2015-16) 46 Cambrian Law Review 131-150.

Valerie Oosterveld, “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone: The Contribution of Transitional Justice Mechanisms to Domestic Law Reform” in Kirsten Ainley, Rebekka Friedman and Christopher Mahony, eds., Evaluating Transitional Justice: Accountability and Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) 129-151.

Marie-Claude Rigaud & Elizabeth Steyn, “Professor Mackaay: And if Legal Ethics Were to Become an Emeritus Project?” in Stéphane Rousseau, ed, Mélanges Mackaay (Montreal: Éditions Thémis, 2015) 633-690.

Robert Solomon & Michele Clarizio, “The Highs and Lows of Medical Marijuana Access in Canada” (2015) 62 Criminal Law Quarterly 536-561.

Wade K. Wright, “Of Banks, Federalism and Clear Statements: Comment on Bank of Montreal v. Marcotte” in Ben Berger and Sonia Lawrence, eds., (2015) 71 SCLR (2d) 185-225.

Andrew Botterell, "Reconciling the Principled Approach to Hearsay with the Rule of Law" (2014) 65 SCLR (2d) 145.

John Currie, Craig Forcese, Joanna Harrington and Valerie Oosterveld, International Law: Doctrine, Practice and Theory, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2014).

Randal Graham, Legal Ethics: Theories, Cases, and Professional Regulation, 3rd ed (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2014).

Valerie Oosterveld, “The Representation of Rape by the Special Court for Sierra Leone,” in Doris Buss, Joanne Lebert, Blair Rutherford, Donna Sharkey and Obijiofor Aginam, eds., Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies: International Agendas and African Contexts (New York: Routledge, 2014) 145-157.

Valerie Oosterveld, “Constructive Ambiguity and the Meaning of ‘Gender’ for the International Criminal Court” (2014) 16(4) International Feminist Journal of Politics 563-580.

Valerie Oosterveld, “Gender at the Intersection of International Refugee Law and International Criminal Law” (2014) 12 Journal of International Criminal Justice 953-974.

Valerie Oosterveld, “Sexual Violence Directed Against Men and Boys in Armed Conflict and Mass Atrocity: Addressing a Gendered Harm in International Criminal Tribunals” (2014) 10(1) Journal of International Law and International Relations 107-128.

Robert Solomon & Erika Chamberlain, “Canada’s New Drug-Impaired Driving Law: The Need to Consider Other Approaches” (2014) 15 Traffic Injury Prevention 685-693.

Robert Solomon & Erika Chamberlain, “Federal Impaired Driving Policy: Moving Beyond Half Measures” (2014) 40(1) Canadian Public Policy 15-30.

Elizabeth Steyn, “Electricity Market Restructuring: Perspectives From Abroad” (2014) 16:3 South African Mercantile Law Journal 606.

Elizabeth Steyn, “The Tao of Traditional Knowledge: Constructing a New Paradigm for the Protection of an Ancient Art” (2014) 3 Les Chantiers de la recherche en droit 37.

Thomas Telfer, Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press and The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 2014).