Johanne Poirier

Full Professor
Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism

New Chancellor Day Hall
3644 Peel Street
Room 604
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 1W9

514-398-3296 [Office]
johanne.poirier3 [at] (Email)

Website: Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism
List of Publications

Recent media appearances

Johanne Poirier, Daniel Turp et Thérèse Mailloux, Le Soleil, 4 février 2020: Aucun obstacle constitutionnel à la zone de parité 
Johanne Poirier, Le Devoir, 20 mars 2017: 150e anniversaire du Canada: Le moment de faire le point
Pierre Vallée, Le Devoir, 14 novembre 2105: Une chaire sur le fédéralisme voit le jour
Focus Law | droit, automne-hiver 2015: Regards neufs sur la Constitution


Johanne Poirier joined McGill’s Faculty of Law in August 2015 as the inaugural holder of the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism. In 2019, the McGill Law Students Association awarded her the John W. Durnford Teaching Excellence Award.

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 worked as a Law clerk for the Hon. Charles Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada, and as a constitutional lawyer for the Canadian Department of Justice. 

Areas of interest

Most of Professor Poirier’s publications explore various aspects of federalism, the protection of minorities (notably linguistic ones), and, more broadly, public law. It is in the field of intergovernmental relations and cooperative federalism that her contributions are the most significant and original. Her multidisciplinary methodological approaches combine legal technicality, institutionalism, socio-political contextualization, and legal theory (including normative pluralism) through a comparative lens – even in the study of Canadian constitutional law. In the coming years, Professor Poirier plans to study the intersection between feminism and transformations of institutional architecture in post-conflict societies.

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


  • PhD in Law (D.Phil), Cambridge, 2004, and doctorate equivalency, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2004
  • License in Comparative Law (LLM), 1992
  • B.C.L. / LL.B, McGill, 1991
  • B.A. Hon. (history & philosophy), Queen’s, 1986


  • Full professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University, 2015-
  • Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, Faculty of Law, McGill University, 2015-
  • Associate professor, Faculty of Law, Université libre de Bruxelles, 2008-2015
  • Co-director, Center for Public Law, Faculty of Law, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2008-2012
  • Assistant professor, Faculté de droit, Faculty of Law, Université libre de Bruxelles, 2004-2008
  • Constitutional lawyer, Canadian Department of Justice, Montreal, 1993-1997
  • Clerk for Justice Charles Gonthier, Supreme Court of Canada, 1993
  • Clerk (part time) for Justice Jean-Louis Beaudoin, Quebec Court of appeal, 1991

Professional Associations and Research Groups

  • Chercheuse associée, Groupe de recherche sur les sociétés plurinationales (direction, Alain-G. Gagnon)
  • Co-fondatrice, projet de recherche « Fédéralisme coopératif et Gouvernance multi-niveaux » dans le cadre du G-3 (consortium entre l’Université de Montréal, l’Université de Genève et l’ULB. Chercheuse associée depuis août 2015
  • Chercheure associée, Regroupement « Droit et changements », Centre de recherche en droit public, Université de Montréal (depuis 2010)
  • Membre associée, Centre de recherche sur l’État et la Constitution (CREC), Université catholique de Louvain (depuis 2009)
  • Membre associée, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherches en droit constitutionnel et administratif (CIRC), Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis (depuis 2010)
  • Membre du Conseil d’administration du Forum des fédérations, Ottawa (depuis 2007) :
  • Membre du comité directeur (« steering committee ») : Re-Bel (Rethinking Belgian Institution in a European Context Initiative) :  (depuis 2010)
  • Membre du Conseil d’administration de l’Association québécoise de droit constitutionnel (2006-2010)
  • Collaboration avec l'Institut de recherches en politiques publiques, Montréal, Canada (2005-2008)
  • Chercheuse associée, Institut des relations intergouvernementales, Kingston, Canada (1998-2002)
  • Member, Association québécoise de droit comparé (since 2002)
  • Member, Barreau du Québec (since 1994)
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