Baxter Family Competition on Federalism

2019 edition

McGill University’s Faculty of Law and the Peter Mackell Chair in Federalism are proud to announce that the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism is returning for a second edition in early 2019.

This prestigious bi-annual competition is 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.

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.

First-, second- and third-place winners will receive prizes of $5000, $3000, and $1000 respectively, awarded by an international jury. The three winners will be given the unique opportunity to present their papers at a Symposium in May 2019.

Participants are invited to submit an original essay related to any aspect of federal theory or practice, by February 11, 2019. Comparative angles to federalism are particularly encouraged.

The 2018-2019 Jury

We are grateful to the distinguished jury members who will thoroughly consider the essays for the 2019 Competition:

  • Dr. Menaka Guruswamy, BR Ambedkar Research Scholar, Lecturer at Columbia Law School and Barrister at the Supreme Court of India (United States and India).
  • Dr. Rohan Edrisinha, Constitutional Advisor to UNDP Nepal, Faculty Member at University of Colombo Faculty of Law (Sri Lanka).
  • The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice at the Supreme Court of Canada (Canada).
  • Prof. Asha Kaushal, Assistant Professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law and winner of the 2017 Baxter Competition, University of British Columbia (Canada).
  • Prof. Cheryl Saunders, President of the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies and Director of Studies in Government Law, Melbourne Law School (Australia).
  • Prof. Eva Maria Belser, Co-Director of the Institute of Federalism and holder of the Chair for Constitutional and Administrative Law, University of Fribourg (Switzerland).
  • Prof. Francesco Palermo, 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. Hugo Cyr, Dean at University du Québec à Montréal’s Faculty of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Political Analysis of the Constitution and Federalism (Canada).

2019 Submission Guidelines

Author eligibility

  • All law students, as well as PhD candidates, junior legal scholars or junior lawyers with five years of experience or less, from anywhere around the world.
  • To be eligible, authors must either
    • Be currently enrolled in a BCL, LLB, JD, LLM, DCL, or PhD program in law (or their local equivalents);
    • Hold a law degree and have obtained their most recent degree (in law or otherwise) after February 11, 2014;
    • Have been admitted to the Bar (or the local equivalent) after February 11, 2014.

Criteria for submission

  • Original text in English or in French;
  • Maximum of 8,000 words, including footnotes, for texts in English;
  • Maximum of 8,800 words, including footnotes, for texts in French;
  • Not yet submitted for publication as of February 11, 2019;
  • Written in 12 points font, double-spaced, with 2.5 cm margins on all sides;
  • Numbered in the upper right corner;
  • Submitted in MS Word format;
  • Include complete references, following the Canadian Guide to Legal Citation;
  • Introduced by a separate document that includes:
    • title
    • author’s name
    • contact information (email, phone, 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: February 11, 2019, at 13h00, Eastern Standard Time (Montreal time).

Submissions are to be emailed to Professor Johanne Poirier, Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, at johanne.poirier3 [at] with “Baxter Competition” as the email subject line.

Should you have any questions regarding the Competition, do not hesitate to contact our research assistant at marie-helene.lyonnais [at]

2017 edition

Bravo to the winners of the inaugural Baxter Family Competition:

  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

The winners presented their papers at a Symposium that took take place at McGill University’s Faculty Club (3450, McTavish St.) at 16h00, on March 22, 2017.

The 2016 jury

We are grateful to the distinguished jury members for their careful and thorough consideration of the essays:

  • Prof. Eva Maria Belser, Co-Director, Institute of Federalism, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • The Honourable Ian Binnie, Lawyer and former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • The Honourable Marie Deschamps, Lawyer and former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Prof. Jean Leclair, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal
  • Prof. Peter Oliver, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
  • Prof. Patricia Popelier, Associate-Dean, University of Antwerp, Belgium 
  • Prof. Cheryl Saunders, Director of Studies, Government Law, Melbourne Law School, Australia
  • Prof. Marc Verdussen, Faculté de droit, Université catholique de Louvain

2016 Competition Entries

We received close to forty high-quality submissions from legal scholars and junior law practitioners of which 35 were deemed admissible. Authors originate from a total of nine countries: Canada (British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Québec), Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We thank all participants for their contributions. (2016 Call for papers.)

Full list of contributions

  • Erika ARBAN (Lecturer, University of Antwerp), “Exploring the principle of (federal) solidarity” (Second Prize)
  • Mathieu ARVISAIS (Law student, Université Laval), “Saisir le concept d'efficacité en régime coopératif : À propos d'une normativité limitée à la rhétorique”
  • Daan BIJNENS (LL.M. candidate, University of Hasselt, Belgium) and Stef KEUNEN (LL.M. candidate, University of Leuven, Belgium), “’Ceci est une fiction’: Constitutional referendums in the federal state of Belgium”
  • Philippe BOISVERT (LL.M. 2013, Cambridge University, UK), “Courts as the Guardians of Federalism in Canada: Filling the Vacuum of Canada's Democratic Institutions”
  • Isabelle BOISVERT-CHASTENAY (Lawyer, Bar of Quebec 2015), “La viabilité du fédéralisme canadien comme mode de gouvernance des peuples autochtones”
  • Aalok CHAUHAN (Law student, Nirma University, India), “Independence of Judiciary: Key to the Indian Federalism”
  • Daiana CRISAN (Law student, Université de Montréal) and Jérôme TREMBLAY (Law student, Université de Montréal), “Le fédéralisme coopératif au Canada : un principe inachevé”
  • Katrina CROCKER (Law student, Queen's University), “Religious Symbols and Their Integration within Canadian Society: An Interpretive Analysis of the Section 2(a) Charter Right”
  • Vanessa De GREEF (LL.D. 2015, Université libre de Bruxelles), “Les constructions multiples du droit au travail des chômeurs souffrant de troubles mentaux en Belgique et leurs fondements idéologiques”
  • Benjamin DIONNE (Law student, McGill University), “Le Sénat du Canada : l'avenir de la confédération”
  • Olivier DULUDE (Law student, Université de Montréal), “Vers une application cohérente du fédéralisme coopératif ?”
  • David Christoph EHMKE (Ph.D. candidate, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany), “Hercules or Hydra: Decentralisation in Fiscal Federalism”
  • Justin FISCH (JD 2016, McGill University), “The Case for Effective Environmental Politics: Federal or Unitary State? Comparing the Cases of Canada and the People's Republic of China”
  • Julien FOURNIER (LL.M. candidate, Université Laval) and Amélie BINETTE (LL.M. candidate, Université Laval), “La Couronne : vecteur du fédéralisme canadien”
  • Eleonore GAUTHIER (JD 2015, Osgoode Hall), “Spending Power, Social Policy, and the Principle of Subsidiarity” (Third Prize)
  • Athanasios GIOCAS (LL.D. 2016, Université de Montréal), “Pour une théorie constitutionnelle fondée sur le principe fédéral : Une mise en perspective à travers le droit constitutionnel comparé”
  • U. Shen GOH (Ph.D. candidate, Osgoode Hall), “Branding Property: How Constitutional Cases Characterize Intellectual Property”
  • Scott HINDLE (Law student, University of Victoria), “Federal and Municipal powers over cell tower placement: The case for municipal involvement”
  • Waris HUSAIN (SJD candidate, Washington College of Law, Washington, DC) and Adil KHAN (Lawyer, of the Bar of British Columbia 2014), “Federalism in Nepal: A Comparative View of the United States and Canada”
  • Asha KAUSHAL (Assistant Professor, UBC), “Constitutional Jurisdictions” (First Prize)
  • Étienne LACOMBE (Law student, McGill University), “A Pragmatic Approach to Federalism in the Aboriginal Context: Lessons from the Nisga'a Final Agreement”
  • Matthew MALONE (Law student, McGill University), “A Need to Know Basis? Canadian Federalism and the Disclosure of Egg and Sperm Donor Identity”
  • Mark MANCINI (Law student, University of New Brunswick), “The Old Fashioned Way: The Classical Paradigm and Reconciliation”
  • Karine McLAREN (LL.M. 2016, Université de Moncton), “Le bilinguisme législatif dans la Fédération canadienne : un régime à géométrie variable”
  • Greg MELCHIN (JD 2016, Dalhousie University), “Conflicting Federalisms: The Subsidiarity Principle in Canadian Federalism and Catholic Social Teaching”
  • Nihad Odobašić (LL.M. candidate, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), “How should minority rights be guaranteed in a federation?”
  • Oluwafifehan OGUNDE (Ph.D. candidate, University of Nottingham, UK), “Child Rights Protection in Federal States: Lessons from the Nigerian Experience”
  • Ohio OMIUNU (Ph.D. 2014, University of Liverpool, UK), “Federal principles of cooperation and the rise mega-regional economic agreements: Canada as a trend setter”
  • Maryna POLATAIKO (Law student, McGill University), “Ulysses' Dagger: Section 33, Federalism, and the Siren Call”
  • Laurence SAINT-PIERRE HARVEY (LL.M. candidate, McGill University), “Pour une réforme du Sénat canadien guidée par une reconnaissance de la diversité : perspectives sud-africaines et éthiopiennes”
  • Julia SCHULZE (Ph.D. candidate, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany), “Intergovernmental Agreements between the German Länder
  • Legesse TIGABU MENGIE (LL.M. 2016, Erasmus University, The Netherlands), “Federalism as an instrument for unity and protection of minorities: A comparative analysis on constitutional principles and their practical implications: Ethiopia, India and the US”
  • Arash VAKILI (Law student, Osgoode Hall), “Toward a Stable Federal Regime”
  • Thomas VERELLEN (Ph.D. candidate, University of Leuven, Belgium), “Federalism and Treaty Enforcement in the European Union. Letters from America”
  • Catherine XHARDEZ (Ph.D. candidate, Université Saint-Louis, Belgium, and Sciences Po, Paris, France), “How Do Nationalist Political Elites Consider Immigrant Integration within Multinational Democracies? The Case of Belgium"

About the Baxter Competition

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 this prestigious bi-annual competition, which is run by the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, is to advance research and foster informed debate on federalism. For the inaugural competition, participants were invited to submit an original essay related to an aspect of federal theory or practice. Given that the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism was launched to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation of 1867, submissions that examine the past, present and future of Canadian federalism from comparative angles were particularly encouraged. While essays can discuss any one of a wide range of topics related to federalism, the organizers of the 2016 Baxter Family Competition on Federalism were particularly interested in submissions centered on two particular aspects of the “federal phenomenon”.

Finalists are given an opportunity to present their papers at a Symposium organized by the McGill Faculty of Law.