New Law Course Explains How We Disagree, Compromise and Learn Together | News

The events of the past two and a half years have highlighted the powers of our federal, provincial and municipal governments across Canada. Prior to the global pandemic, disagreements between different levels of government would arise, but could usually be resolved relatively effectively.

This division of powers, known as federalism, is the subject of a new course offered by the Faculty of Law, created by Dr. Fenner Stewart, PhD. The study of federalism reveals the divisions and separations of public power within the same territory.

In Canada, the Constitution Act of 1867 provides for dual sovereignty between two orders of government: a national government and sub-national provincial governments. The Constitution Act, 1982 provides opportunities to gain a richer sense of sovereignty than what preceded it, creating opportunities to recognize the multinationalism that exists within Canadian borders.

Fenner Stewart

Canada is a very diverse society with contested origins. Stewart says, “This challenge is one of the strengths of our Constitution. Unlike the United States, our story is not one of a founding moment forged out of a bloody rebellion. In the United States, the loyalty that this origin story inspires has translated into great loyalty to the original intent of its founders. Challenging Canada’s origin story gives all Canadians hope that our future society will be inclusive – one in which every citizen can be seen and respected as he/she would like to be.

But he adds: “The realization of this hope has been and will continue to be the difficult and disorderly work of the judiciary, legislature and executive. Understanding the history of Canadian federalism from multiple perspectives reveals how we as Canadians disagree, compromise and learn together, and how we are likely to do so in the future. »

According to third-year student Amelia Harman, federalism is a dynamic and complex system of government that is influenced by changing societal values.

“The course was an excellent opportunity to learn about current issues in Canadian federalism and to critically explore the factors motivating constitutional change,” she says.

Learn to grow together

Using a series of transdisciplinary readings, students explore the Canadian model of formal governance and power-sharing, and understand why Canadian institutions operate the way they do and how they must change to meet the needs of a diverse and pluralistic society.

“Our public sphere is polarized and divided,” says Stewart. “It is becoming increasingly difficult for Canadians to articulate public reason and the public interest. It has never been more important for all Canadians to learn to thrive together. Students of Canadian federalism will acquire not only tools that will make them better lawyers, but also tools that will make them better citizens, who can help resuscitate the public sphere.”

Laura Glover, also a third-year student, agrees.

This course not only expands my constitutional knowledge as a law student and future lawyer, but also makes me a more informed Canadian citizen.

“I hope this course will help our students gain expertise, which can help guide Canada towards a better future,” says Stewart.

Nancy I. Romero