Current Research

My research looks at institutional designs to manage diversity. I focus in particular on the intersection of three areas: federalism; judicial politics; and, representation. My work tends to look at Canada, from a broadly comparative perspective.

My new book – The Judicial Role in a Diverse Federation – explores the role courts play managing conflict in diverse federations. It broaches this puzzlingly understudied topic by examining the work of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). Through a comprehensive study of the Court’s federal jurisprudence over the past 30 years, I argue that the SCC has increasingly moved towards a welcome approach of facilitating negotiation to manage conflict between the federal and provincial governments. The theoretical and empirical analysis behind this argument make the case that courts matter in diverse states, and that this institution is ignored by theorists and policy makers at their peril.

I am also launching a new research agenda studying the representation of ethno-national minorities in political institutions. At the heart of this project is a new “representation index,” which maps the relative levels of diversity  across a number of states along with their macro approach to recognizing diversity and more micro designs of political institutions that seek to represent minorities. The goal of this work is to look beyond the electoral system to understand the causes and consequences of the broad ways that states represent minorities in national political institutions.

In addition to these two major projects, I explore issues that engage with my core research interests as they relate to Canadian politics. For example, I am undertaking a study of intergovernmental relations (IGR) in Canada’s immigration system, with a recently published article on this topic in the Canadian Journal of Political Science and a forthcoming IRPP study (under contract, co-authored with Grace Skogstad and Andrew McDougall) that will also look at IGR in other policy sectors between 2006 and 2015.