Baxter Family Competition on Federalism

2021 edition: Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times

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. 

The overarching goal of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism is to advance research and foster informed debate on federalism, in Canada and abroad. The competition is open to both to law and political science students and young practitioners from around the world.  

The first three editions received over 100 entries, from 22 countries (in addition to Canada, we had participants from Germany, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Spain, the United States, Ethiopia, France, Hungary, India, Ireland, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Zimbabwe!) 

The Faculty of Law of McGill University and the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism are delighted to announce the winners of the 2020-2021 Baxter Family Competition on Federalism, organized by Professor Johanne Poirier.

For the first time, the Competition was open to authors from the disciplines of law or political science. This edition’s overall theme was Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times.

We received numerous and diverse submissions of an exceptional quality from scholars and junior practitioners from 12 countries. Amongst those, the international jury has selected the following papers:

  1. First prize: Josiah Wamwere-Njoroge (LLB candidate, Riara University, Nairobi, Kenya) – 5,000$
    PDF icon The Utility of a Decentralized Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (abstract)
    For its well-developed, thoughtful and theoretically grounded argument, and its comparative focus, allowing an analysis relevant to the fundamentals of federalism.
  2. Second prize: Kelty McKerracher (JD/JID candidate, University of Victoria, Canada) – 3,000$
    PDF icon Relational Legal Pluralism and Indigenous Legal Orders in Canada
    For its topical, novel and mature argument, tackling both the theoretical roots and practical possibilities of legal pluralism as a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
  3. Third prize: Benoît Delerue (PhD candidate in political science, Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, Lyon, France) – 1,000$
    PDF icon Le régime fédératif face au triptyque structure-conjoncture-fracture: évolution structurelle des fédérations canadienne et états-unienne sous l’effet des crises conjoncturelles et des fractures politiques
    For its originality, the depth of its research in primary historical sources, and its comparative approach, providing a rich reflection on the evolution of federations.

Winners presented their papers at the Baxter Family Symposium on Federalism, held online on May 15, 2021.

View the 2021 Baxter Family Symposium on Federalism here:

Our distinguished jury

We are grateful to the distinguished members of our international jury, who thoroughly considered the submissions for the 2021 Competition:

  • 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).

2019 edition

The McGill Faculty of Law and the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism are delighted to announce the winners of the 2019 Baxter Family Competition.

We received numerous high-quality submissions from scholars and junior practitioners, with authors originating from a total of 13 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Ethiopia, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Scotland, Spain, the United States, and Zimbabwe. From these, the international jury selected the following:

  1. First Prize: Jan Raeimon Nato (BCL/LLB candidate, McGill University, Montreal) – $5,000
    PDF icon Duties of Federal Loyalty: Lessons to Learn, Conversations to be Had
  2. Second Prize: Berihun Gebeye (SJD Candidate, Central European University, Budapest) – $3,000
    PDF icon Federal Theory and Federalism in Africa
  3. Third Prize (ex-aequo) – $1000, to be shared:
  4. Special jury mention: Breanne Lavallee-Heckert (BCL/LLB candidate, McGill University, Montreal)
    PDF icon ‘The Space in Between’: Métis Self-Governance within the Canadian Federation

Winners presented their papers at a Symposium held on 11 May 2019 starting at 11:30 at McGill University’s Thomson House (3650, McTavish St.). See photos of the proceedings. This Symposium coincided with the Younger Comparativists Conference of the the American Society of Comparative Law, which was being held 10-11 May, 2019 at McGill.

The jury

We are grateful to the distinguished members of our international and bilingual jury, who thoroughly considered the submissions for the 2019 Competition:

  • The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Former Chief Justice at the Supreme Court of Canada
  • 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. Hugo Cyr, Doyen de la Faculté de droit de l’UQAM et codirecteur du Centre d’analyse politique sur la constitution et le fédéralisme — CAP-CF (Canada)
  • Dr Rohan Edrisinha, Constitutional Advisor to the United Nations Development Programme, New York, and Faculty Member at University of Colombo Faculty of Law (Sri Lanka)
  • Dr Menaka Guruswamy, BR Ambedkar Research Scholar, Lecturer at Columbia Law School and Barrister at the Supreme Court of India (United States and India)
  • Prof. Asha Kaushal, Assistant Professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia and winner of the 2017 Baxter Competition (Canada)
  • Prof. Francesco Palermo, President of the International Association of Centers for the Study of Federalism, Head of the Institute for Comparative Federalism at EURAC Research, Professor of Comparative Public Law at University of Verona’s Faculty of Law (Italy)
  • Prof. Cheryl Saunders, Laureate Professor Emeritus, Co-Director of Studies in Government Law, International Law and Public Law, Melbourne Law School (Australia)

See the 2019 call for papers.

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 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"


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