Call for papers - Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times: The Baxter Family Competition on Federalism 2020-2021


Published: 11Aug2020

McGill University’s 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.

For this edition, participants are invited to submit an original essay related to Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times, by 1 February 2021.

This broad theme should allow for reflections about the impact of federalism on the current COVID-19 crisis – and vice versa –, without being limited to this context. Comparative perspectives are particularly encouraged.

Made possible through the generous support of Rachel Baxter (BSc’84, BCL’88) and Colin Baxter (BCL’90, LLB’90), the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism seeks to promote informed debate on federalism by students and young professionals from around the world. For the first time in 2021, the Competition will be open to law and political science students/PhD candidates, junior scholars and practitioners who graduated in these disciplines.

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 (see below).

For the first two editions, we received in average thirty high-quality submissions, with authors originating from a total of fifteen countries and with various degrees of experience. We enthusiastically expect that the 2021 edition will again attract a rich diversity of contributions.

Submission Guidelines – 2021 Edition

Author eligibility

  • All law or political science students, PhD candidates as well as junior scholars, lawyers or practitioners who graduated in these disciplines with five (5) years of experience or less, from anywhere around the world.
  • To be eligible, authors must either
    • Be currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in law or political science;
    • Hold a law or political science degree and have obtained their most recent degree (in law or political science, or otherwise) after 1 February 2016; or
    • Have been admitted to the Bar (or the local equivalent) after 1 February 2016.

Criteria for submission

  • Original text in English or in French;
  • Maximum of 8,000 words for texts in English and of 8,800 words for texts in French (the maximum number of words includes, in both languages, footnotes);
  • Not yet submitted for publication as of 1 February 2021;
  • Written in 12-point font, double-spaced, with 2.5 cm (1 inch) margins on all sides;
  • Numbered in the upper right corner;
  • Submitted in Microsoft Word format;
  • Include complete references in footnotes;
  • Introduced by a distinct document including:
    • title
    • author’s name
    • author’s contact information (e-mail, phone number, address)
    • statement affirming the eligibility for the Competition (date of graduation)
    • unpublished status of the paper;
  • Include an abstract summarizing the main question and main conclusions (maximum 200 words).


Deadline for submission of essays: 1 February 2021, at 12h00, Eastern Standard Time (Montreal time). Submissions are to be emailed to Professor Johanne Poirier, Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, at [at] with “Baxter Competition” as the email subject line.

The finalists (those whose papers will be sent for a second round of evaluation) will be invited to submit a 3-5-minute video that will synthesise their main research question, argument and conclusions (in English or in French), in early March 2021. We will provide technical details in due course.

The prize-winning papers of the previous editions of this essay contest may be found on the Baxter Family Competition on federalism web page.

Our jury members

The Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism is delighted that the following people have graciously agreed to sit on the jury for this 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).
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