Call for Papers: Confederation / Confédération

The Canadian Confederation:

Past, Present, and Future

May 16-18, 2017

Montréal, Québec


The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.  The passage of the Constitution Act (1867) opened a new chapter in the history of the Canadian people, providing them with a measure of self-determination that has served as a model of effective and stable government for more than a century and a half.  Although the road has not been without obstacles and some turbulence, Canada’s progress from a loose association of provinces governed by London to a nation that extends A Mari Usque Ad Mare — or more properly, “from sea to sea to sea,” — has served as an inspiration to movements for democratic reform throughout the world.

This conference will bring together scholars from around Canada, the Commonwealth, and the world to explore the origins, present state, and future prospects of the Canadian constitutional settlement.  Experts in law, history, politics, and economics will present papers on the history of the Confederation settlement, the role of Québec, the development of human rights and the Charter, federalism, parliamentary sovereignty, judicial review, private law in a federal system, as well as the role of Canada in the Commonwealth.

We are currently seeking proposals for papers or full panels relating (but not limited) to the following areas:

The Background and Origins of the Constitution Act 1867

The history of the constitutional settlement.  People and events.  London, Ottawa and Charlottetown. Imperial imperatives.  The Canadian People: French, English and First Nations and their reactions or role in the process.  Elites and commoners.

The Structure of Confederation

Necessary compromises.  Language and culture.  The Anglo-American tradition.  Federalism. The Provinces.  Sections 92, 92A, 93.


Supremacy.  Prime Minister or President?  The Senate.  The House.  The Westminster system in the Canadian context.

The Judiciary

The “Living Tree.”  Privy Council to Canadian Supreme Court.  Judicial review.  Role of the Courts of Appeals.


Role in Confederation (1867).  Independence.  Civil law system and influence on English Canada.

The First Nations

The Crown and the First Nations.  The duty to consult.  Grassy NarrowsTsilhqot’in Nation.  Self-government.  The Indian Act.

The Charter of Rights

Bill of Rights to Charter.  International Law and the Charter.  The Charter and private law.  Provincial human rights codes.

Private Law in the Canadian Context

English precedent.  International influences.  Civil and Common Law cross-fertilisation.  Uniformity.

The Administrative State

Reasonableness, fairness and correctness. Structure. Expanding and controlling regulatory power.

Aspects of Law

Criminal law. Immigration. Procedure. Uniformity.   Law reform.

Commerce and Trade

A national Canadian securities law?  Commercial regulation.  Companies.  Securities.  Fiduciary Duty.

Canada, the Commonwealth and the World

How has Canada influenced and been influenced by the world around us?  “Soft power”.  Diplomacy.  Human rights.  Peace-keepers or warriors?  Old alliances and new.  France and Québec.  Englishmen at home and in North America.  Our American cousins.

The Future

Wither Confederation?  Proposals for reform?

We seek presentations from both established and new scholars.  Perspectives from Québec and the First Nations are especially welcome.  Presentations may be made in both official languages.  Deadline for proposals is 1 December 2016.

For more information or to discuss a panel or proposal, please do not hesitate to contact:

Professor Matthew P Harrington


This content has been updated on 8 October 2016 at 20 h 17 min.