What: Judicial Authority: Institutional Capacity Checks and Balances and Legitimacy
Who: Justice Malcolm Rowe, Supreme Court of Canada
When: Thursday, September 21 at 5 pm
Where: University Theatre, ADM026, 1138 Alumni Avenue, UBC Okanagan campus
The community is welcome to attend the 2023 UBC Constitutional Lecture by Supreme Court of Canada Justice Malcolm Rowe at UBC Okanagan this Thursday.
During his presentation, Justice Rowe will discuss the nature of judicial authority in Canada’s constitutional system. In particular, he will discuss the separation of powers—who decides what? Why do courts decide certain questions of law as opposed to Parliament or the Government?
“This is one of the most fundamental questions in constitutional law,” explains Dr. Geoffrey Sigalet, an Assistant Professor of Political Science with UBCO’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. “At a time of heightened political polarization regarding questions of rights and the state’s reach into citizens’ lives, the question of the separation of powers is not merely academic. It is about which institutions should be settling which kinds of questions as they impact the lives of Canadians.”
Justice Rowe is particularly interested in institutional capacity—the ability of different institutions to effectively make different types of decisions within Canada’s constitutional order.
Dr. Sigalet says Justice Rowe is well-suited to address this question. Unlike many lawyers who serve on the judiciary, Justice Rowe has worked in the legislature and government. Early in his career, he worked as a Clerk Assistant offering procedural advice to the Speaker for the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador. After working as a lawyer, he later served as Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. As Clerk of the Executive Council, he was not a “Clerk” in the ordinary sense of the word: he was the head of Newfoundland’s public service.
Justice Rowe has also had an impeccable career as a lawyer and judge, serving first on the Newfoundland and Labrador’s Supreme Court, then its Court of Appeal, and finally on the Supreme Court of Canada. He knows about the institutional capacities of the legislature, the government and the courts. He knows what they’re good at doing and their weak spots, not only in theory but also in practice.
Justice Rowe’s lecture will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Dr. Sigalet. However, Justice Rowe will not answer questions about specific cases decided by or which could be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Last year, Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Côté spoke at the inaugural UBC Constitutional Lecture. Justice Rowe’s lecture will help make this event an annual tradition that connects UBCO students, faculty and the wider Okanagan community to fundamental questions about constitutionalism.
The event is free and takes place in the University Theatre starting at 5 pm. No registration is required.