Constitutional and Public Law (2016-2017)

Partially "flipped" course.



This course is co-taught by Professors Craig Forcese and Michael Pal.  Part I of the course, taught by Professor Forcese, will introduce students to the public law setting, focusing on the broad principles of public law that undergird the Canadian legal system. Upon successful completion of this part of the course, you will:

  • be familiar with the sources of law in the Canadian legal system;
  • be familiar with the constitutional underpinnings of the Canadian legal system; and,
  • appreciate the essential principles of the Canadian legal system, such as the rule of law, parliamentary sovereignty, constitutional supremacy, federalism, separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary

In Part II of the course, Professor Pal will guide students through a detailed study of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and constitutional remedies.  Upon successful completion of this part of the course, you will:

  • be familiar with the central debates surrounding the implementation and interpretation of the Charter;
  • understand the structure of the Charter, including the function of the limitations clause and the notwithstanding provision;
  • understand the sections of the Charter related to the right to vote, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, equality rights, and the right to life, liberty, and security of the person, and the jurisprudence interpreting them; and,
  • appreciate the nature and range of remedies for breaches of the Charter.

In Part III of the course, led by Professor Forcese in Winter term, students will examine in greater detail the organization of the courts and the structure, role and functions of the legislative and executive branch.  Here, we also focus on legislative and the legislative process. Upon successful completion of this part of the course, you will:

  • understand the membership and functions of the branches of government, the interplay between the branches of government and the role of the courts in overseeing administrative action;
  • appreciate the scope and importance of legislation in the Canadian legal system;
  • understand the federal legislative process; and,
  • understand concepts relating to statutory interpretation.

In addition to these matters, students should expect to be exposed to questions of government accountability through such instruments as the Access to Information Act, and (time permitting) the Lobbying Act, the Conflict of Interest Act and the Canada Elections Act.  Students will file an federal access to information request in September and hopefully receive a response by February.

Last taught: 2016-2017.