Professional LLM Specializing in Constitutional Law

Course Descriptions

Constitutional Theory [3 credits]
This course examines the role and legitimacy of judicial review in a liberal democracy; formalism and realism; critical legal studies; the ideological structure
and sources of law; and law and politics.


Legal Rights in the Canadian Charter [6 credits]
This course provides an overview of the legal rights sections (ss.7-14) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The course begins with a general examination of the provisions, including a review of the origins of the legal rights sections and the
idea of legal rights as a democratic notion, and their place in the international community. More specific topics will then be covered, including: euthanasia, assisted suicides and abortion; the application of s.7 to situations outside Canada (including capital punishment and torture of extradited persons); conflicting parameters of legal rights including the right to privacy and the right to full answer and defence. Legal rights will be examined in a criminal context which will include search and seizure, right to counsel, right to be tried within a reasonable time, the presumption of innocence (and theories about self-incrimination), and the nature of cruel and unusual punishment. In addition, the course will examine the interaction of the legal rights provisions of the Charter with administrative law and procedures, including judicial independence and the role of governments. Throughout the course, underlying theories and themes related to legal rights will be discussed.

* Please note: Students who take this course cannot take Criminal Law and the Charter: Implications and Expectations [6782 - 6 credits].

Federalism & Institutions of Government [6 credits]
This course examines the impact of unwritten constitutional principles, including federalism and the division of powers, on the text and underlying structure of the Constitution; the operation of the conventions of responsible government and the
principles of democracy, the rule of law and the protection of minorities in representative institutions; the separation of powers and the respective roles
of the Crown, Parliament and the legislatures, and the courts in ensuring respect for constitutionalism; the process of and prospects for constitutional amendment; and selected topics in federalism (as examples, peace, order and good government; trade and commerce; criminal law; property and civil rights; interjurisdictional immunity; and paramountcy).


Evidence and Procedure in Constitutional Litigation [3 credits]
This course examines the process of constitutional litigation; the dynamics of judicial review; jurisdiction and choice of forum; standing; proper defendants; class actions; intervention; ripeness, mootness and justiciability; burdens of proof; evidence issues and the challenge of proving legislative and constitutional facts; strategy in public
interest litigation; and effective written and oral advocacy.


Constitutional Remedies [3 credits]
This course examines the remedies that are available for breaches of the Charter and Aboriginal rights and related procedural issues. The related procedural
issues may include standing, mootness and jurisdiction to award Charter remedies and apply the Charter. The discussion may include remedies in criminal cases, exclusion of evidence, damages, costs, declarations, injunctions (final and interlocutory), equitable and other remedies for violations of Aboriginal rights and the range of remedies available for unconstitutional legislation including reading down and reading in; severance, extension or invalidation of underinclusive laws; constitutional exemptions; delayed declarations of invalidity and prospective rulings.

Freedom of Expression and the Press [3 credits]
This course provides an overview of the jurisprudence under s.2(b) of the Charter of Rights; theories of expressive and press freedom; relationship between s.2(b) and s.1; comparisons with First Amendment jurisprudence; expression and harm; and the regulation of various kinds of expression, including the electoral process, the judicial process and advertising.

Fundamental Freedoms in the Canadian Charter [6 credits]*
This course examines the fundamental freedoms contained in s.2 of the Charter, through theory and jurisprudence related to religion, expression, assembly and association, comparing Canada with other jurisdictions. In addition to reviewing current case law in detail, it explores fundamental questions such as: why do we protect religious freedom? Could religion be better analyzed as an associative freedom? How do religious freedom and expressive freedom conflicts get resolved? What are the boundaries of expressive freedom? How are freedom of association
and assembly analyzed? Is there an overarching unifying theory for fundamental freedoms?

Equality Rights [6 credits]

This course provides an overview of equality rights under s.15 of the Charter. Topics to be examined include the origins of the language in the text of s.15;
theories of equality; definitions of intentional and adverse effects discrimination; the interpretation of the listed grounds of discrimination; the recognition and the relationship between the guarantee of equality in s.15(l) and the protection of ameliorative programmes in s.15(2); the relationship between s.15 and s.1; remedies available for the violation of equality rights; the extent to which particular listed or analogous grounds of discrimination have generated a body of case law; and an evaluation of the utility of litigation and rights discourse to further progressive goals.

Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian Constitution [6 credits]*
This course examines the bases for Aboriginal rights in Canadian law, with particular emphasis on the source and content of Aboriginal title to land. The nature of treaties and land claims agreements, their impact on Aboriginal rights, and the constitutional
protection of Aboriginal and treaty rights are considered. The course also examines division of powers and constitutional status of Indians, Inuit and Metis.

Major Research Paper [6 credits]
A Major Research Paper (MRP) of approximately 70 pages may be completed on any topic in Constitutional Law, provided appropriate supervision is available.


The MRP should go beyond merely describing legal developments to include independent critical analysis of its subject matter. It should be work of publishable quality. You will be required, at a minimum, to submit to your supervisor, an outline
and bibliography for approval before writing your paper. The final paper is marked on a pass/fail basis.

Note: Not all courses are offered every year or program cycle.