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 PLRG’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 and across constitutional orders, mapping architectures of governance, offering routes for institutional reform, and rethinking foundational matters like federalism and democracy.

Western Law work exploring these themes of pluralism and structuralism

Wade K. Wright, “Against Privileging the Charter: The Case of Federal Pre-enactment Constitutional Review” (2020-2021) 25 Rev Const Stud 49-78.

Athanasios Psygkas, “The United Kingdom’s Statutory Constitution” (2020) 40(3) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 449.

Athanasios Psygkas, “Accountability” in Peter Cane, Herwig Hofmann, Eric Ip & Peter Lindseth, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Administrative Law (Oxford University Press, 2020). 

Athanasios Psygkas, “Accommodating legal pluralism and ‘pluralizing’ the constitution: The example of the United Kingdom” in Guillaume Tusseau, ed., Debating legal pluralism and constitutionalism: New trajectories for legal theory in the global age (Springer, 2020).

Michael Coyle, "E Pluribus Plures: Legal Pluralism and the Recognition of Indigenous Legal Orders” in Paul Schiff Berman, ed., Understanding Global Legal Pluralism: From Local to Global, From Descriptive to Normative (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Michael Coyle, "Shifting the Focus: Viewing Indigenous Consent Not as a Snapshot But As a Feature Film” (2020) 27 International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 1-20. 

Wade K. Wright, “Canadian Federalism’s Underlying Question: What It Is and Why It Matters” (2020) 53(2) UBC Law Rev 531.

Athanasios Psygkas, “The Hydraulics of Constitutional Claims: Multiplicity of Actors in Constitutional Interpretation” (2019) 69(2) University of Toronto Law Journal 211.

Kate Glover Berger, “Diagnosing Administrative Law: A Comment on Clyde River and Chippewas of the Thames First Nation” (2019) 88 SCLR (2d) 107.

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, 2019).

Kate Glover Berger, “The Constitution of the Administrative State” in Daniel Jutras & Marcus Moore, eds., Canada’s Chief Justice:  Beverley McLachlin’s Legacy of Law and Leadership (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2018).  Also published as: (2018) 86 SCLR (2d) 161.

Kate Glover, “Dunsmuir and the Constitutional Status of the Administrative State” in Paul Daly & Leonid Sirota, eds., (2018) Canadian Journal of Administrative Law and Practice Special Issue - A Decade of Dunsmuir 141.

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).

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).

Wade K. Wright, “Federalism(s) in the Supreme Court of Canada During the McLachlin Years” in D. Jutras and M. Moore, eds., Canada’s Chief Justice: Beverley McLachlin’s Legacy of Law and Leadership (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2018). Also published as: (2018) 86 SCLR (2d) 207.

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).

Athanasios Psygkas, From the “Democratic Deficit” to a “Democratic Surplus”: Constructing Administrative Democracy in Europe (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Athanasios Psygkas, “The ‘Double Helix’ of Process and Substance Review Before the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal: A Model Case or a Cautionary Tale for Specialist Courts?” in Susan Rose-Ackerman, Peter Lindseth and Blake Emerson, eds., Comparative Administrative Law, 2nd ed (Edward Elgar, 2017).

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.

Michael Coyle, “Rethinking The Transformative Potential of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: A Skeptic’s Perspective” (2017) 95(3) Canadian Bar Review.

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.

Michael Coyle, “From Consultation to Consent: Squaring the Circle?” (2016) 67 UNBLJ  235.

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.

Constitutional Law of Canada Treatise

In 2020, Professor Wade Wright, who co-directs the PLRG, agreed to assume the authorship of Peter Hogg’s seminal Constitutional Law of Canada treatise, which is the most cited book in the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. In this role, Professor Wright is responsible for preparing the yearly updates to the treatise, which is published as both a two-volume, loose-leaf book (comprising 60 chapters) and as an abridged annual student edition. His first update to the treatise was published in August 2021. 

Current Versions of the Constitutional Law of Canada Treatise

Peter W. Hogg & Wade K. Wright, Constitutional Law of Canada, 5th ed. (Toronto: Thomson Reuters/Carswell, 2007+, loose-leaf version) (2021 update authored by Professor Wright released August 2021).

Peter W. Hogg & Wade K. Wright, Constitutional Law of Canada, 2021 Student Edition (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2021).

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

Robert Solomon (With N. Giesbrecht et al.), “The Canadian Alcohol Policy Evaluation (Cape) Project: Findings from a Review of Provincial and Territorial Alcohol Policies” (2021) Drug and Alcohol Review 1-9.

Thomas Telfer & Virginia Torrie, Debt and Federalism: Landmark Cases in Canadian Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law, 1894-1937 (Vancouver: UBC Press, forthcoming 2021). 

Claire Houston, “Case Comment: Undermining Children’s Rights in AM v CH” (2020) 39 Canadian Family Law Quarterly 99. 

Claire Houston, “Respecting and Protection Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Children in Canada’s Family Courts” (2020) 33(1) Canadian Journal of Family Law 103.

Ryan Liss, “Whose Right is It Anyway? Adjudicating Charter Rights in the Context of Multiple Rights Holders” (2020) 94 SCLR (2d) 271.

Margaret Martin, “Postema on Hart: The Illusion of Value-Neutrality,” in Thomas Bustamante and Thiago Lopez Decat, eds., Reflections on the Work of Gerald Postema (Hart Publishing, 2020).

Margaret Martin, “Persuade or Obey: Crito and the Preconditions for Justice,” in Stefano Bertea, ed., Contemporary Perspectives on Legal Obligation (Routledge, 2020).

Margaret Martin, “Method Matters: Non-Normative Jurisprudence and the Re-Mystification of the Law,” in Jorge Luis Fabra-Zamora and Gonzalo Villa, eds., Elucidating the Concept of Law: Contemporary Disputes (Springer, 2020).

Valerie Oosterveld (with Indira Rosenthal), “Gender and the ILC’s 2019 Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity” (2020) 6(2) African Journal of International Criminal Justice 215-227.

Valerie Oosterveld, “The Special Court for Sierra Leone: Instigating International Criminal Law’s Consideration of Forced Marriage” (2020) 14(2) Florida International University College of Law (FIU) Law Review, Microsymposium on Charles Jalloh, The Legal Legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (CUP, 2020).

Valerie Oosterveld (with Margaret deGuzman), eds., The Elgar Companion to the International Criminal Court (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020).

Robert Solomon (with L. MacLeod & E. Dumschat), “The Shifting Focus of Canadian Impaired Driving Enforcement: The Increased Role of Provincial and Territorial Administrative Sanctions” (2020) 25 Canadian Criminal Law Review 24.

Robert Solomon (with T. Stockwell et al.), “Cancer warning labels on alcohol containers: A consumer’s right to know, a government’s responsibility to inform, and an industry’s power to thwart” (2020) 81(2) Journal of Studies on Alcohol & Drugs 284.

Robert Solomon (with A. Sohrevardi et al.), “Cannabis and Driving: The Provincial and Territorial Legislative Mosaic” (2020) 68 Criminal Law Quarterly 165.

Robert Solomon (with L. MacLeod & E. Dumschat), “The increasing role of provincial administrative sanctions in Canadian impaired driving enforcement” (2020) 21(5) Traffic Injury Prevention 298.

Robert Solomon (with N. Giesbrecht et al.), “Alcohol retail privatization in Canadian provinces between 2012 and 2017. Is decision-making oriented to harm reduction?” in Proceedings of the 45th Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium of the Kettil Bruun Society (Utrecht: Kettil Bruun Society, 2020).

Colin Campbell, (with Robert Raizenne), “The Origins and Architecture of the 1942 Canada-U.S. Tax Treaty,” in Harris and de Cogan, eds., Studies in the History of Tax Law, Volume 9 (Oxford: Hart, 2019).

Chamberlain, Book review of Ken Oliphant, ed., Public Authority Liability in Comparative Perspective (Intersentia, 2016) (2018) 61:2 Canadian Business Law Journal 272-282.

Dennis Klimchuk, "Punishment and Crime" in Randall Lesaffer and Janne Nijman, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Hugo Grotius (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Valerie Oosterveld, “The ICC Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes: A Crucial Step for International Criminal Law” (2018) 24(3) William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 1-15.

Valerie Oosterveld, “Canada and the Development of International Criminal Law: What Role for the Future?” in Oonagh Fitzgerald, Mark Jewett, Valerie Hughes and Basil Ugochukwu, eds., Canada in International Law @150: Past, Present and Future (McGill Queen’s University Press: 2018).

Robert Solomon & Erika Chamberlain, “The Road to Traffic Safety: Mandatory Breath Screening and Bill C-46” (2018) 23 Canadian Criminal Law Review 1-42.

Robert Solomon, J. Brubacher et al., “Police Documentation of Drug Use in Injured Drivers: Implications for Monitoring and Preventing Drug-Impaired Driving” (2018) 118 Accident Analysis and Prevention 200.

Robert Solomon, Erika Chamberlain & M. Vandenberghe, “Canada’s New Cannabis-Related Driving Legislation: The Elusive Quest for an Effective Deterrent” (2018) 23 Canadian Criminal Law Review 265.

Colin Campbell (with Robert Raizenne), “The 1917 Income War Tax Act: Origins and Enactment,” in Income Tax at 100 Years: Essays and Reflections on the Income War Tax Act” (Toronto: Canadian Tax Foundation, 2017) 2:1 to 2:96.

Valerie Oosterveld, “Forced Marriage” in Naomi Cahn, Dina Haynes, Fionnuala Ni Aolain and Nahla Valji, eds., Gender and Conflict Handbook (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017) 240-252.

Thomas Telfer, “Rediscovering the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Power: Political and Constitutional Challenges to the Bankruptcy Act, 1919-1929” (2017) 80(1) Sask L Rev 37.

David Sandomierski, “Tension and Reconciliation in Canadian Contract Law Casebooks” (2017) 54:4 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 1181.

Erika Chamberlain, Misfeasance in a Public Office (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2016).

Valerie Oosterveld, “Women and Girls Fleeing Conflict: Gender and the Interpretation and Application of the 1951 Refugee Convention” in Volker Türk, Alice Edwards and Cornelius Wouters, eds., In Flight from Conflict and Violence: UNHCR's Consultations on Refugee Status and Other Forms of International Protection (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016) 183-214.

Valerie Oosterveld, “Crimes Against Humanity” in Anne-Marie de Brouwer and Alette Smeulers, eds., Companion to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Cheltenham, UK: Elgar Publishers, 2016) 110-139.

Valerie Oosterveld and Patricia Viseur-Sellers, “The Contributions of the ECCC on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence” in Simon Meisenberg and Ignaz Stegmiller, eds., The Hybrid Contributions of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to International Criminal Law (The Hague: TMC Asser/Springer, 2016) 321-351.

Robert Solomon & E. Dumshat, “Passive Alcohol Sensors: A Second Best Impaired-Driving Counter-measure” (2016) 20(2) Canadian Criminal Law Review 229-245.

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.

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.

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

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.

David Sandomierski, “Training Lawyers, Cultivating Citizens, and Re-Enchanting the Legal Professional” (2014) 51:4 Alberta Law Review 739.

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.

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).

Past Themes

In recent years, the PLRG’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