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

Kate Glover Berger, “La complexité et la formule d'amendement du Canada” in Marc Verdussen, Patrick Taillon & Dave Guénette, eds., La modification constitutionelle dans tous ses états [translation, forthcoming, 2019]. 

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).

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.

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, (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).