Events organized by the Chair

Past events - 2020

21 May 2020: webinar on federalism and COVID-19

Les oratrices et orateurs (absente de la photo : Mireille Paquet) ainsi que les organisatrices et organisateurs du webinaire. The speakers (absent from picture: Mireille Paquet) and organizers of the webinar.

On May 21, 2020, the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism and the Groupe de recherche sur les sociétés plurinationales organized a webinar on federalism and COVID-19. With researchers coming from nine federations and quasi-federation (Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States), this online event outlined, through concise presentations, various federations' responses to the pandemic. It enabled us to draw of parallels between countries, while highlighting approaches specific to each.

The discussion was crisp, informative and stimulating, and gave researchers the opportunity to build connections around the world. A second discussion is planned in a few weeks to deepen the ideas exchanged during the first – and provide well-needed updates.

We were fortunate to hear presentations from the following researchers on their country's situation:

  • Italy: Francesco Palermo (EURAC Institute for Comparative Federalism, Bolzano/Bozen)
  • Australia: Nicholas Aroney (University of Queensland)
  • Germany: Sabine Kropp (Free University of Berlin)
  • South Africa: Nico Steytler (University of the Western Cape)
  • Belgium: Patricia Popelier (University of Antwerp)
  • Brazil: Augustina Giraudy (School of International Service, Washington DC)
  • Canada: Mireille Paquet (Concordia University)
  • Switzerland: Eva Maria Belser (Institute of Federalism, Fribourg)
  • USA: Jennifer Selin (University of Missouri)

Past events - 2017

8-9 June 2017: Fiscal Federalism in Plurinational Societies: Equality and Autonomy


The MacKell Chair participated to the CRIDAQ conference at Université du Québec à Montréal.

Find out more... [.pdf]

19 May 2017: 2e Conférence Beetz-Laskin en droit constitutionnel canadien

The MacKell Chair was at the Beetz-Laskin conference to participate on a panel examining Federalism, Cooperation and Amendment, at Université de Montréal's Faculty of Law.

Find out more...

April 2017: Concluding the Questions approfondies de droit constitutionnel course in Ottawa

Group of professors and students during a simulation of a Constituent Assembly in Ottawa in 2017.

Taking place in 2017, the year marking the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Canadian federation, the Questions approfondies de droit constitutionnel course was taught in collaboration by Professors Johanne Poirier (U. McGill) and Daniel Turp (U. de Montréal). The course brought together 26 students from both law faculties.

The primary objective of the course was to “modernize” the Constitution of Canada: regroup its scattered sections (the multiple “constitutional laws” and their annexes) and propose potential modifications, notably to codify certain conventions, or even entrench certain principles. The main idea was to propose a legible, living and contemporary constitutional instrument. After the students drafted together the text of a new (and ficticious) Canadian Constitution [.pdf], the class ended with a simulation of a Constituent Assembly in Ottawa.

March 27, 2017: Constitutional Moment with Cheryl Saunders

The Regroupement Droit, changements et gouvernance welcomed a talk on "Constitutional Architecture for Divided Societies" with Cheryl Saunders, Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne. This event took place in Prof. Poirier's class.

March 23 and 24, 2017: Canadian Federalism and its Future/Le fédéralisme canadien et son avenir

The "Canadian Federalism and its Future: Actors and Institutions" colloquium was organized in the broader context of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian confederation by the Groupe de recherche sur les sociétés plurinationales (GRSP) in partnership with McGill University's Peter MacKell Research Chair on Federalism and the McGill and Laval University faculties of law. Taking place over two days, the conference started at McGill University in Montreal, continued on a train to Quebec City, and ended at the Musée de la civilisation in Old Quebec City. See a write-up of the colloquium and some photos in Focus online (McGill Law's e-monthly).

FILM: The Ways of Reconciliation

A portion of the colloquium took place at McGill University; the other, at the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City.

Between Montreal and Quebec City, a three-hour "Moving Seminar: The Ways of Reconciliation" took place aboard a train wagon specially chartered for the occasion. Participants (some coming from as far as Australia, Germany and Switzerland) experienced a section of the railway that was so crucial both to the unification of Canada, and to the Canadian colonial undertaking that deprived so many Indigenous peoples of their lands and autonomy.

This unusual setting allowed us to reflect in a very concrete manner on the impact and meaning of federalism for Indigenous Peoples. Simply recognizing the three First Nations territories that the train crossed along this 250-km journey was a significant pedagogical and emotional moment for all travellers.

The symposium brought together Mr. Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Professor Janique Dubois, specialist (among others) in governance in Metis communities, and Mr. Ry Moran, director of the National Centre on Truth and Reconciliation (University of Manitoba), and was facilitated by Mr. Daniel Salée, professor of Political Science at Concordia University.

Watch the 48-minute film, “A Moving Seminar: The Ways of Reconciliation:

March 22, 2017: Baxter Competition Symposium

The three finalists of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism presented their papers at McGill University's Faculty Club in front of many of the jury members who have selected them.

150e anniversaire du Canada: Le moment de faire le point

Johanne Poirier | 20 mars 2017 | Le Devoir

"L'année 2017 marque les 150 ans de la fédération canadienne. L’anniversaire ne mérite pas nécessairement une célébration. Mais c’est le moment de faire le point et de lever les tabous. Imaginez des jeunes qui se disent que la coexistence pacifique et les différents modes de réconciliation doivent, aussi, passer par une discussion sur nos valeurs partagées et sur les modalités d’organisation et de partage du pouvoir. Imaginez que le mot « Constitution » ne soit plus un « vilain mot »… ou un somnifère…" Continue reading...

February 24, 2017: Constitutional Moment with Naomi Metallic

 urgence d’agir. Naomi Metallic 

The Regroupement Droit, changements et gouvernance welcomes a talk on « Revitalisation des langues autochtones et réconciliation : urgence d’agir » with Naomi Metallic, Assistant Professor and Chancellor's Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie. Find out more.

Past events - 2016


November 25, 2016: Vers un esprit sain en partage des compétences ? Normativity in Health and Criminal Jurisdictions in Canada

A Constitutional Moment talk with Professor Alana Klein, Faculty of Law, McGill University. Kindly note this talk takes place at Université de Montréal.

This year, the Matinées constitutionnelles / Constitutional Moments series, which is co-organised by McGill Law and the Centre de droit public de l’Université de Montréal (RDCG), will be devoted alternatingly to federalism and linguistic rights.

Time, place: 11h30, Salon François-Chevrette, Université de Montréal. Find out more...

October 28-29, 2016, Ottawa - Constitutional Politics in Multinational States

A Groupe de recherche sur les sociétés plurinationales conference, organized by André Lecours (Ottawa U.), Johanne Poirier (McGill U.) and Guy Laforest (Laval U.)

See the program and the project description [.pdf].  This conference is closed to the public, but interested persons can contact the Chair.

October 26, 2016, McGill: Gestion de l’immigration et politiques d’intégration dans des Etats fédéraux : Belgique et Canada

A MacKell Chair in Federalism Conference with Catherine Xhardez, PhD Candidate at Sciences Po Paris. Discussant: Daniel Weinstock.

Time, place: 12:30-14:00, NCDH 316. Find out more...


November 16, 2016, McGill: The Impact of BREXIT on Linguistic Issues in the EU

A Constitutional Moment talk with Stéphanie Chouinard, postdoctoral researcher and lecturer, Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal.
Time, place: 12:30-14:00, NCDH 201. Find out more...


April 6, 2016
PAPILLON, Martin, « Le fédéralisme est-il un modèle viable de gouvernance autochtone? », Faculty of Law, McGill. 

March 31, 2016
LEVRAT, Nicolas, « Gouvernance européenne et migration », Faculty of Law, McGill, in collaboration with the Oppenheimer Chair.


March 16, 2016
LEVRAT, Nicolas, “The Impact of Globalisation on Multinational Federations”, Les Matinées constitutionnelles, Faculty of Law, McGill, in collaboration with Centre de recherche en droit public (CRDP) at Université de Montréal.

Past events - 2015

December 8, 2015
TOMKIN, Adam (Edinburgh University), “Britain’s Territorial Constitution: Can The Union Hold?”.

November 23, 2015
WELDON, Laurel (Purdue University), “Gendered Federal Systems:
Informal Institutions, Intersectionality and Change”, (co-organized with the Annie MacDonald Langstaff Workshop), Faculty of Law, McGill.

October 26-27, 2015
VINTRO, Joan (Faculté de droit, Université de Barcelone), « Les bases juridiques et politiques de l’accession d’une Catalogne indépendante à l’Union européenne ».

August 11, 2015
World Federalist Movement - Canada, in collaboration with the McGill Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism: “From Global to Local : the Importance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Reconciliation in Canada", by Senator Murray Sinclair, the former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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