The Team

Professor Johanne Poirier surrounded by students Lana Rackovic, Sajeda Hedaraly, Maryna Polataiko and Jesse Hartery.
Image by Lysanne Larose.
Professor Johanne Poirier surrounded by students Lana Rackovic, Sajeda Hedaraly, Maryna Polataiko and Jesse Hartery.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows

Lucien Carrier – doctoral candidate

Lucien Carrier
Lucien Carrier has a keen interest in constitutional theory, legal theory and philosophy of law. His readings have led him to taking into account both the historical and sociological dimensions of law, as well as its ties to political theory in general. Having studied in France, England, Scotland and now Québec, he greatly values the importance of identifying and discussing perspective in the study of law.

Project: Le recours aux classifications des formes politiques pour décoder l’ordre constitutionnel britannique : processus utile ou obstacle épistémologique ? (Classifications of Political Entities as a Means of Understanding British Constitutional Order: Useful Process or Epistemological Barrier?) (2019 – )

Representation of the world through taxonomies is not automatic, or necessary. Starting from the hypothesis that certain legal cultures resort less to classification than others, I intend to explore the actual meaning of the act of classification. Based on the study of the British constitutional order’s specific case, my research aims to explain and analyze different possible decoding methods. In so doing, I will confront representations of political entities produced by French, British and Canadian scholarly discourse.

Dave Guénette – post-doctoral researcher

Dave Guénette
After his doctoral studies in Quebec (Université Laval) and Belgium (Université catholique de Louvain), Dave Guénette joined the Peter Mackell Chair in Federalism as a postdoctoral fellow. His past and present work focuses on federalism, constitutional change and multinational states. He is the author of about thirty scientific articles and book chapters, and coedited the publication of two collective books (Ré-imaginer le Canada - Vers un État multinational?, Presses de l'Université Laval, 2019 and Cinquante déclinaisons de fédéralisme - Théorie, enjeux et études de cas, Presses de l'Université du Québec, 2020).

Project: Le consociationalisme, principe structurant du fédéralisme coopératif au Canada? (Is Consociationalism a Structuring Principle of Cooperative Federalism in Canada?) (2020 – )

My postdoctoral research project proposes to examine the extent to which the theory of consociationalism (or consociational democracy) could serve as a structuring principle for understanding cooperative federalism in Canada. By methodically examining different materializations of cooperative federalism, I will seek to determine the degree to which the main consociational pillar, which is the search for accommodation between political elites, allows for a better understanding of the dynamics that animate executive federalism between the partners of the federation, as well as the interpretation that the courts make of the different norms that apply to cooperative federalism.

Atagün Mert Kejanlıoğlu – doctoral candidate

Atagün Mert Kejanlıoğlu
Atagün Mert Kejanlıoğlu is a DCL candidate at McGill’s Faculty of Law. He holds an undergraduate degree in law and a master’s degree in Public Law from Galatasaray University (Istanbul, Turkey). He obtained another master’s degree in Fundamental Public Law from University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in 2016 with his dissertation on Turkish and French presidency. He also worked as a research and teaching assistant in the constitutional law department at MEF University Faculty of Law (Istanbul, Turkey). For his doctoral studies, Atagün received a research grant from the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FQRSC). His research interests include comparative constitutional law, constitutional theory, and European human rights law.

Project: Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments : an Example of Abusive Constitutionalism? (2018 – )

In a world where populism is on the rise, constitutions are also increasingly under attack. The reason is simple: constitutions include legal mechanisms designed to protect the values of constitutional democracy. Yet, unlike many other authoritarian regimes, populists play the game by its rules and amend the constitutions by methods that seem to be constitutional. This tendency is one of the main threats to constitutionalism, and therefore to the protection of democracy, human rights and diversity. As populists see the “people” as a unity that can express its will without any limits and directly through referenda, one needs to decipher the role of the “people” in constitutional amendments.

This research intends to explain to what extent the authority of the “people” to amend the constitution is restricted contrary to populist claims. I mainly argue that there are limits regarding how the will of the “people” can be expressed. Contrary to what populists assert, I contend that the will of the “people” cannot be easily determined solely through a referendum process. I use examples from international human rights law, critical constitutionalism, and federalism to illustrate this argument.

Catherine Mathieu – doctoral candidate

Catherine Mathieu
Catherine Mathieu holds both a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and International Relations and a Bachelor of Laws from Université Laval. After completing a master’s degree in Constitutional Law while working as an advisor at the Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat, she clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada for the Right Honourable Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. Catherine began her doctorate in law at McGill University in the fall of 2018 under the supervision of Professor Johanne Poirier and is a recipient of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Project: Fédéralisme et protection du consommateur au Canada à la lumière du droit européen (Federalism and Consumer Protection in Canada in Light of European Law) (2018 – )

My thesis examines the issues raised by the interrelationship and overlap between federal and provincial consumer laws. It aims to contribute to a better understanding of the impacts of Canadian federalism on the protection of consumer rights. It also seeks, by studying the specific case of consumer law, to analyze the evolution of the jurisprudential conception of federalism and of the doctrines guiding the interpretation of the division of powers.


Research assistants

Professor Poirier has had the pleasure of working with a number of dedicated and highly effective research assistants.

David D'Astous
David D'Astous (2021) is a BCL/JD candidate at McGill's Faculty of Law. He holds a Certificate from Université Laval's Great Books Program. During his legal studies, he has notably acted as a tutorial leader for the first-year Legal Methodology course and as a student law clerk at the Quebec Court of Appeal. He has also volunteered at the Legal Information Clinic at McGill. In 2021, he won the Louis-Philippe-Pigeon Chair in Legal Writing's essay competition.

Emma Walsh
Emma Walsh (2021) is a BCL/JD candidate at the Faculty of Law and a research assistant to Professor Johanne Poirier. She holds a BA with Honours in Political Science and Honours in Human Rights from St. Thomas University. She has competed in constitutional and human rights moot court competitions across the United States and in Geneva, Switzerland, where her team placed first. During her legal studies, she co-founded the Wallenberg Advocacy Group at McGill, which engages in legal and social advocacy to promote the causes of political prisoners. She also acts as a Senior Editor on the McGill Journal of Sustainable Development Law and volunteered with the Legal Information Clinic at McGill.

Etienne A. Gratton
Etienne A. Gratton (2019-2021) is a BCL/JD student at the Faculty of Law and a research assistant to Professor Johanne Poirier. He holds an MA in History from Queen’s University, where he worked on the interactions of social and legal norms in the context of the patrician family in late nineteenth-century Québec. Involved with his community, he has served in different positions in student, municipal and federal politics. He is also an organizer and board member of the Jeune Conseil de Montréal, a non-partisan organisation educating young Montrealers to politics and public debate.

Catherine Laperrière
Catherine Laperrière (2020-2021) is a BCL/JD candidate at the Faculty of Law, and the coordinator of the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism. Her interest for communities of all kinds guides her involvement at various levels: at the Faculty, notably in the Official Languages Committee; in the university, within the Judicial Board of the Student Association; and in the broader community, with the Mobile Legal Clinic, which she coordinates in 2020-2021. She completed a student clerkship, and acted as a group assistant for Professor Poirier's Constitutional Law class. Catherine organized the third edition of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism, a writing competition associated with the Chair.

Jessica Michelin
Jessica Michelin (2020) is a BCL/JD candidate at the Faculty of Law. Previously, she obtained a BA in Honours Psychology from McGill, where she also played for the varsity  rugby team. During her legal studies, Jessica has completed a student clerkship, acted as a tutorial leader for the first-year Legal Methodology course and served as an editor for the McGill Journal of Law and Health. During the summer of 2019, Jessica interned at Human Rights Watch as part of the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism’s International Human Rights Internship Program, where she worked on numerous comparative law projects. After finishing her law degree, Jessica began working as a clerk at the Québec Court of Appeal.

Marie-Hélène Lyonnais
Marie-Hélène Lyonnais (2017-2019) completed her BCL/JD at McGill’s Faculty of Law, as a Loran Scholar. She was a research assistant for the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, coordinated the second edition of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism, and was a teaching assistant to Professor Poirier’s Constitutional Law class. Marie-Hélène spent a summer at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, where she worked on several submissions to the Supreme Court of Canada on constitutional matters. She represented McGill at the Laskin Moot Court Competition in constitutional and administrative law. Outside of school, Marie-Hélène volunteered at the Mobile Legal Clinic and worked on a consultative committee for the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec. After her studies, Marie-Hélène will serve as a Law Clerk to Justice Kasirer at the Supreme Court of Canada and will work at the law firm IMK.

Mélisande Charbonneau-Gravel
Image by Ana Lucia Lobos.
Mélisande Charbonneau-Gravel (2018-2020), BCL/LLB’19, also holds an international baccalaureate in languages from Cégep Garneau. Mélisande received the Stephen A. Scott Award in Constitutional Law as well as the J.S.D. Tory Writing Award. She participated in a research seminar in constitutional law which aimed to rewrite a modern version of the Canadian Constitution. During her studies, she also completed a student clerkship at the Superior Court of Québec and an internship at the organization Dans la rue. Mélisande was a research assistant for various centres and professors. In 2020-2021, she clerked for Justice Martin at the Supreme Court of Canada.


Jan Nato (2019) obtained his BCL/LLB from McGill’s Faculty of Law in 2019. He studied and worked as an opera singer before beginning his legal studies. While at McGill, Jan volunteered at the PINAY Legal Information Clinic, and participated in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. In 2019, Jan’s paper was awarded first place in the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism. After completing his articles at an international law firm, Jan is currently an assistant legal counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Stéphanie Pépin (2017-2018) is a DCL candidate at McGill’s Faculty of Law. She has a certificate in political science, an LLB degree with honours in Law as well as a master’s degree in law from Université Laval, where she held the positions of law tutor and vice-president of Academic Affairs at the Graduate Law Student Association. Throughout her studies, she also worked as a paralegal at the law firm Stein Monast s.e.n.c.r.l. and as a research assistant and teaching assistant for multiple professors. Stéphanie received a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for her master’s degree and from the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FQRSC) for her doctoral studies. Her main areas of interests are constitutional law, public institutions and human rights regimes.

Antoine Godin-Landry
Antoine Godin-Landry (2017-2018) holds a BCL/JD (2019) from McGill’s Faculty of Law, where he worked as a teaching assistant to Professor Poirier's Constitutional Law class. In 2017, he participated in a Constitutional Law Research Seminar to draft a “Constitution of Canada 2017”, where he focused on issues of division of powers and international relations. During his legal studies, he was involved with the Mobile Legal Clinic, an organization devoted to improving access to justice for people. In 2020, he began articling at Woods, a leading firm specialized in civil and commercial litigation.


Éléna Drouin (2017-2018) is a BCL/LLB student at McGill's Faculty of Law, where she received the Stephen A. Scott Award in Constitutional Law. She currently is acting Editor-in-chief of the McGill Law Journal for Volume 63. During her law studies, Elena also volunteered with the Canadian Association of Civil Liberties (CCLA) through Pro Bono Canada. She holds a joint degree in Economics and Political Science from Université Laval, where she made the Dean’s Honour List. Previously, Éléna worked at the Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor du Québec, as well as at other ministries of the Quebec Provincial Government.

Jesse Hartery
Jesse Hartery (2015-2018) has obtained his BCL/LLB at McGill's Faculty of Law. During his time at the Faculty, he was a group assistant in Professor Johanne Poirier’s Constitutional Law course, a law clerk to a Justice of the Superior Court of Québec, and the Program Co-Coordinator of the McGill Chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. He was also the Co-President of the McGill Runnymede Society. Jesse was called to the Quebec Bar in 2019 and he served as a Law Clerk to Justice Nicholas Kasirer at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2020-2021. In October 2019, he was awarded the Ronald L. Watts Award by the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies.

Sajeda Hedaraly
Sajeda Hedaraly (2015-2018) completed her BCL/LLB studies at McGill in December 2018, after having previously completing a Bachelor of Arts & Science with a major in cell/molecular biology. During her legal studies, Sajeda volunteered at the Caregivers’ Association of Quebec (AAFQ) and at the Legal Information Clinic. She was an editor for the McGill Law Journal, completed a clerkship at the Québec Superior Court, and participated to the Harold G. Fox Moot in Intellectual Property. Sajeda has worked as a clerk at the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2018 and clerked for Justice Gascon of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2019. She now works in litigation at McCarthy Tétrault, a national law firm.

Maryna Polataiko

Maryna Polataiko (2015-2019) holds a BCL/LLB from McGill's Faculty of Law. She co-founded Tech Law McGill, an organization for students interested in law and technology. She was also a finalist at the Copyright Policy Moot hosted by the Centre for Law, Technology and Society at the University of Ottawa. Maryna received the Bereskin & Parr Prize in Industrial and Intellectual Property. She was called to the bar in Ontario in 2020 after completing her articles at a national law firm. Most recently, she has been writing on intellectual property in the Internet era.

Lana Rackovic

Lana Rackovic (2015-2018) obtained her BCL/LLB at McGill's Faculty of Law. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communication from the University of Ottawa. She received research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FQRSC), which she used to pursue graduate studies that focused on the rights of European ethnic and linguistic minorities at Université de Montréal. During her time in Ottawa, she worked for Elections Canada and the Parliament of Canada before completing an internship at the Council of Europe. Lana was involved with Contours, a McGill publication aiming to give voices to women in law, and with Bien que chez soi, an organization aiming to fight homelessness in its many forms in Montreal. Upon leaving the Faculty, Lana was called to the Québec Bar in 2019 and now practices civil and commercial litigation at Langlois Lawyers. She also works in constitutional and administrative law cases, for which her interest has only grown since her time at the MacKell Chair.

Portrait: Scott Whitelaw

Scott Whitelaw (2016-2017) obtained his LLM from McGill's Faculty of Law in 2017. He holds degrees in history (BA Hons.), civil law (LLL) and common law (LLB) from the University of Ottawa. Scott clerked at the Federal Court of Appeal and has been called to the Bar in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and New York. He has worked as Legal Counsel at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and as a Legal Intern with the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa. Before relocating to Montréal for graduate studies at McGill’s, Scott worked as a Crown Prosecutor in Saskatchewan. His LLM thesis focused on the right to a basic education in both South African and First Nations contexts. Upon completing his work with the Chair, he worked as a litigation lawyer with Justice Canada in Ottawa Scott served as a federal Crown prosecutor. He has since enrolled as a legal officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Marie Rondeau (2015-2016) has completed her BCL/LLB program in 2016 at McGill’s Faculty Law. During her time at the Faculty, she led workshops to help first year students with their learning and study skills and acted as a volunteer for the McGill Legal Information Clinic. She was also Managing Editor of the McGill Journal of Law and Health, as well as vice-president of the Law Students’ Association. An accomplished athlete, she was a member of the Canadian national synchronised swimming team between 2009 and 2012, and a coach thereafter. In 2014, she interned with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Patrick Baud (2015-2016), BCL/LLB'18, was a member of the Research Group on Constitutional Studies and received the Stephen A. Scott Award in Constitutional Law. A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Victoria College with great distinction, he holds a Master’s degree in Political Studies from Queen’s University. Previously, Patrick worked in the office of the Financial Accountability Officer of Ontario, the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer and in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.


Scholars in Residence

July-August 2019: Yonatan Fessha, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Western Cape, South Africa and Marie Curie Fellow at the Institute for Comparative Federalism at Eurac Research. While in Montreal, he pursued his project on intergovernmental relations in divided societies.

May-June 2019: Antonia Baraggia, Associate Professor, Department of National and Supranational Public Law, Faculta di diritto, Universita di Milano. She advanced her research project on comparative fiscal federalism.

July-August 2018: Josep Maria Castellà Andreu, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Barcelona, and member of the Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law), Council of Europe.

July-August 2018: Núria González-Campañá, PhD candidate, Oxford, and EU Law Lecturer at ESADE Business and Law School of Barcelona.

March 2016: Nicolas Levrat, Professor, University of Geneva. While in residence, he gave two talks: The Impact of Globalisation on Multinational Federations on March 16, 2016, and Gouvernance européenne et migration on March 31, 2016.

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