New blog tackles questions about COVID-19 orders, legislation, and the Constitution

Centre for Constitutional Studies provides weekly insights and information

27 June 2020

Canadians have questions about their rights and freedoms as their governments issue rapidly changing mandatory orders and new legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

A new blog from the Centre for Constitutional Studies at the University of Alberta is providing information and insights.

The blog, “Pandemic Powers and the Constitution,” addresses constitutional issues that arise as the government responds to the global public health crisis. Launched in May and updated weekly, it features posts by legal scholars from across the country.

“It has been a great success — younger scholars engaging with senior scholars, a great willingness to re-publish articles, and a great number of new posts on arising issues,” says Patricia Paradis, the executive director of the Centre.

Posts cover a range of topics from Indigenous jurisdiction to possible Charter rights infringements and basic questions about the extent of government powers during a public health emergency.

In addition to the blog, the Centre continues with its speaker series, which is now offered via webinar, rather than in-person sessions.

“There are challenges to working with a webinar format, but the great advantage is that we can reach so many more people,” says Paradis. “Where we used to draw a group of 40-50 people for a Downtown Charter event, we now draw between 180 and 200 participants from across Canada.”

In May, the Centre featured guest speakers Professor David Dyzenhaus of the University of Toronto, and Professor Paul Daly of the University of Ottawa, who spoke on emergency powers and legal principle during the pandemic. The webinar, which had an audience of participants from 13 countries, focused on the scope of emergency powers and the arguments used by governments to justify their actions.

This webinar is available on the Centre’s newly launched website.