Baxter Family Competition on Federalism

Created in 2016, the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism has been made possible through the generous support of Rachel Baxter, BSc’84, BCL’88 and Colin Baxter, BCL’90, LLB’90, who both practice law in Ottawa, as corporate and litigation counsel respectively.

The overarching goal of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism is to advance research and foster informed debate on federalism by young jurists (including law students, law PhD Candidates, junior legal scholars and junior lawyers) from around the world. In 2020-2021, the competition was opened up to both to law and political science students and young practitioners.


2021 edition: Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times

12 August 2020: The Faculty of Law and the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism are proud to announce that the prestigious Baxter Family Competition on Federalism will return for a third edition in early 2021. We invite you to consult the Call for papers.

This edition’s overall theme is Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times. This broad theme should allow for reflections about the impact of federalism on the current COVID-19 crisis – and vice versa – but by no means should entries be limited to this context. Naturally, comparative perspectives are particularly encouraged.

For the first time, the Competition will be open both to law and political science students/PhD candidates, as well as junior scholars and practitioners from around the world.

Contributors must be registered students or have obtained their degrees, in law or political science, less than 5 years before the submission deadline of 1 February 2021.

The three winners will have the unique opportunity to present their papers at a Symposium in May 2021 in Montreal (circumstances allowing). First-, second- and third-place winners will receive prizes of $5,000, $3,000, and $1,000 (CAD) respectively. The prizes will be awarded by a stellar international jury, whose names and bios will be shared shortly.

Please see the Call for papers for information on author eligibility and paper criteria.

Furthermore, the MacKell Chair is delighted to announce the members of the stellar international jury for the third edition of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism:

  • The Right Hon. Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice at the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • The Honourable Clément Gascon, former Justice at the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • Prof. Francesco Palermo, President of the International Association of Centres for the Study of Federalism; Head of the Institute for Comparative Federalism at EURAC Research; and Professor of Comparative Public Law at University of Verona’s Faculty of Law (Italy).
  • Prof. Nicola McEwen, Professor of Territorial Politics at University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science; and Co-Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change (United Kingdom).
  • Prof. Yasmeen Abu-Laban, Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta; Canada Research Chair in the Politics of Citizenship and Human Rights; and Vice-President of International Political Science Association (Canada).
  • Prof. Nico Steytler, Professor at the University of the Western Cape’s Faculty of Law; and South African Research Chairs Initiative Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Policy (South Africa).
  • Prof. Jaclyn L. Neo, Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law; Director of Centre for Asian Legal Studies; and Co-Chair of International Society for Public Law (ICON-S)’s Singapore Chapter (Singapore).
  • Jan Raeimon Nato, BCL/LLB (2019), Student-at-Law at Baker McKenzie, and Winner of the 2019 Baxter Competition (Canada).

Announcing the third edition of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism

6 May 2020: The MacKell Chair team is pleased to announce that the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism will be returning for a 3rd edition in 2020-2021. The overarching goal of the Competition is to advance research and foster informed debate on federalism.

We will publish further details on our website shortly, but we wanted to “flag” the return of the Competition so you may keep it in mind in coming months as you supervise student work.

This edition’s overall theme is Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times. This broad theme should allow for reflections about the impact of federalism on the current COVID-19 crisis – and vice versa – but by no means should entries be limited to this context. Naturally, comparative perspectives are particularly encouraged.

For the first time, the Competition will be open to both to law and political science students/PhD candidates, as well as junior scholars and practitioners from around the world.

Contributors must be registered students or have obtained their degrees, in law or political science, less than 5 years before the submission deadline of 1 February 2021.

With prizes ranging from $1000 to $5000 (CAD), and a chance to present one’s research at a Symposium in Montreal (hopefully in May 2021, circumstances allowing), this should be of interest to many of your students, researchers, and young colleagues working on federalism-writ-large. Maximum word count is 8000 words in English and 8800 in French.

You will find more information on the previous editions of the Competition at mcgill.ca/law/research/essay-contests/baxter-competition.

Professor Johanne Poirier
MacKell Chair on Federalism
Faculty of Law, McGill University


2019 Edition

On April 2, 2019, the McGill Faculty of Law and the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism were delighted to announce the winners of the 2018-2019 Baxter Family Competition. The winners, Jan Raeimon Nato, Berihun Gebeye, Catherine Mathieu and Rafael Viotti Schlobach, presented their works at the Baxter Symposium on May 11, 2019. See pictures of the Symposium.

We received numerous high-quality submissions from a total of 13 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Ethiopia, Germany, Hungary, India,  Italy, Scotland, Spain, the United States, and Zimbabwe. From these, the international jury selected the following:

  1. First Prize: Jan Raeimon Nato (BCL/LLB candidate, McGill University, Montreal) - $5,000
    PDF iconDuties of Federal Loyalty: Lessons to Learn, Conversations to be Had
  2. Second Prize: Berihun Gebeye (SJD Candidate, Central European University, Budapest) - $3,000
    PDF iconFederal Theory and Federalism in Africa
  3. Third Prize (ex-aequo) – $1000, to be shared:
  4. Special jury mention: Breanne Lavallee-Heckert (BCL/LLB candidate, McGill University, Montreal)
    PDF icon‘The Space in Between’: Métis Self-Governance within the Canadian Federation

Find out more.


2017 edition

Here are the winners of the inaugural Baxter Family Competition, picked from nearly 40 entries:

  1. First Prize: Asha Kaushal (Assistant Professor, University of British-Columbia)
    PDF icon Constitutional Jurisdictions - $5,000
  2. Second Prize: Erika Arban (Lecturer, University of Antwerp)
    PDF icon Exploring the Principle of (Federal) Solidarity - $3,000
  3. Third Prize: Eleonore Gauthier (Articling Student, Toronto)
    PDF icon Spending Power, Social Policy, and the Principle of Subsidiarity - $1,000

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