About Johanne Poirier

Image by Lysanne Larose.
Professor Johanne Poirier is the inaugural holder of the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism at McGill’s Faculty of Law. She joined the Faculty in 2015 as a Full Professor.

Her research studies the foundations, potential, risks and concrete incarnations of the “federal phenomenon” understood broadly.


Johanne Poirier holds a degree in History and Philosophy from Queen’s University, a joint degree in civil law and common law from McGill (BCL/LLB), a masters in comparative law from l’Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), and a doctorate in law from Cambridge.

Previously, Professor Poirier was a faculty member of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), where, between 2004 and 2015, she taught various courses on comparative law, federalism and European regionalism both at the Faculty of Law and the Institute of European Studies. From 2008 to 2012, she also co-directed the ULB’s Center for Public Law.

Johanne Poirier has been an invited professor at the University of Ottawa, the University of Montreal, the Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales of Madrid, and the Faculty of Law at the National University of Rwanda. She has participated in a number of expert missions on constitutional design in Spain, Belgium, Tunisia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Rwanda, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nepal. She also has been a board member of the Forum of Federations since 2007.

Prior to her academic career, she clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada for the Hon. Charles Gonthier, and worked as a constitutional lawyer for Canada's Department of Justice. 


Professor Poirier has taught an introductory course in Constitutional Law, as well as a course on comparative federalism. In 2016-2017, on top of teaching Constitutional Law, she will be co-directing, with Professor Daniel Turp of Université de Montréal, a seminar on constitutional drafting aimed at “modernizing” the Canadian Constitution on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Professor Poirier is particularly interested in supervising graduate students wishing to explore various aspects of federalism, the institutional mechanisms for the accommodation  diversity, and comparative constitutional law, more generally.

See also her Research and her Publications.

Sajeda Hedaraly, Johanne Poirier, Maryna Polataiko, Jesse Hartery
Image by Lysanne Larose.
Professor Poirier with her 2015-2016 assistants: Sajeda Hedaraly, Maryna Polataiko & Jesse Hartery. Absent from photo: Patrick Baud & Lana Rackovic.

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