The Future of Liberal Democracies and Levy’s Separation of Powers Thesis

Please join our panelists for an engaged dialogue, as they discuss Jacob T. Levy’s thesis, presented as the 31st Annual McDonald Lecture in Constitutional Studies, on the separation of powers, the critical challenges it faces in light of nationalist populism and partisan polarization, and the future of liberal democracies in a changing political landscape.

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31st Annual McDonald Lecture in Constitutional Studies with Professor Jacob T. Levy

The Separation of Powers and the Challenge to Constitutional Democracy

Professor Jacob T. Levy
Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory, McGill University

Professor Levy will examine the roots of our contemporary challenges to constitutional democracy, and trace these to the development of one of constitutionalism’s central institutions: the separation of powers. He will explain how the visible fragility of constitutional democracy is, in real part, a fragility of the separation of powers, and how addressing the one requires also addressing the other.

The McDonald Lecture is presented by the Centre for Constitutional Studies through an endowment to the Faculty of Law in Memory of Justice David C. McDonald.

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Online Charter Series: Section 25 of the Charter – Indigenous Laws in Canadian Courts

Which prevails, the Charter or the Vuntut Gwitchin Constitution? The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation enacted their own Constitution providing for the selection of political leaders based on their traditional laws, and their right to self-government. In a recent case, that Constitution was challenged using the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Join lawyer and PhD candidate Ryan Beaton, University of Victoria, as he reviews the recent Vuntut Gwitchin decision from the Yukon Supreme Court, and addresses the complexities of considering Indigenous Law, and section 25 of the Charter.

Download a copy of the poster here.


This online event is free and open to the public.

Carbon Pricing and the Constitution

Why is the federal government’s carbon pricing so constitutionally contentious? The Ontario and Saskatchewan Courts of Appeal found the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA, sometimes referred to as ‘carbon tax’ or ‘carbon pricing’) constitutional; the Alberta Court of Appeal did not.

On September 22nd and 23rd, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments about whether the federal government has jurisdiction to enact the GGPPA.

Join Professors Eric M. Adams, Andrew Leach, and Jocelyn Stacey on Monday, September 21st, as they discuss key points the Supreme Court will need to decide, and explore wider issues related to the GGPPA litigation. Professors Adams and Leach will focus on the issue of whether the GGPPA is federal or provincial jurisdiction, while Professor Stacey will discuss environmental principles related to the GGPPA.

This event is free and open to the public. Download a copy of the poster here.

Eric M. Adams is Vice Dean and a Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta.

Andrew Leach is an Associate Professor at the Alberta School of Business – Marketing, Business Economics and Law.

Jocelyn Stacey is an Assistant Professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.


Online Charter Series: Pandemic Travel Restrictions – Do They Violate Your Mobility Rights?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, governments worldwide have taken measures that were previously unthinkable. Limitations have been placed on travel to and from, as well as within Canada. Does the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protect rights to travel?

Join lawyers Arthur M. Grant, Partner at Grant Kovacs Norell, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Cara Zwibel, Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, as they discuss Charter rights in the context of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

This event is free and open to the public. Download a copy of the poster here.


Professors David Dyzenhaus and Paul Daly, Presenting: “COVID-19: Emergency Powers and Legal Principle”

David Dyzenhaus, University Professor of Law and Philosophy, and Albert Abel Chair, University of Toronto
Paul Daly, University Research Chair in Administrative Law and Governance, University of Ottawa

How far is too far? COVID-19 has sparked states of emergency across Canada and the world, with governments sometimes taking unprecedented actions. During this crisis, there may be temptation for governments to push the limits of power. This timely webinar will address and explain the concept of a ‘state of emergency’ in both the Canadian and Hungarian contexts. Professors David Dyzenhaus and Paul Daly explore what a state of emergency means, examine Canada’s federal and provincial responses to the current public health crisis, and suggest strategies on how to ensure that government power is not abused.

This event is free and open to the public.

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Dr. Ubaka Ogbogu, Associate Professor, U of A, Presenting: “Rights, Freedoms, and Medical Assistance in Dying”

Dr. Ubaka Ogbogu, Associate Professor, cross-appointed to the Faculties of Law and Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta; Katz Research Fellow in Health Law and Science Policy; and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow, 2020 – 2023.

Canadian medical assistance in dying (MAID) laws were recently updated. However, they remain controversial in so many ways. Who qualifies? Who does not and why? Can health care providers object to any involvement in MAID? What safeguards to prevent abuse are in place? Professor Ogbogu will answer these questions and more from the perspective of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This event is free and open to the public. It is part of our Downtown Charter Series and will be hosted online.

Webinar Registration

Associate Professor Cameron Jefferies, U of A Faculty of Law, Presents: “The Charter and the Environment”

Professor Catherine Bell, U of A Faculty of Law, Presents: “The Duty to Consult and Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982

Assistant Professor Anna Lund, U of A Faculty of Law, Presents: “Do Corporations Have Charter Rights?”