Politics Disrupted: Rights Policy in Australia and Canada
This research examines the impact of institutional arrangements on the development of rights-based public policy. Specifically, it asks whether legislative (bicameralism) or judicial means best achieves the compromise policy outcomes envisioned by some of the most influential democratic thinkers. One side in the debate sees moderation flowing from a “dialogue” between dispassionate courts exercising “strong-form” review and impassioned (hence extremist) legislatures. The other side, believing that courtroom “rights talk” fans the flames of extremist polarization, stresses the moderating influence of other (generally more “political”) checks and balances. In this second view, courts can indeed contribute to a moderating inter-branch “dialogue,” but are more apt to have this beneficial influence when they exercise some kind of “weak-form” review.
The Dispersal of Power in Federal States: Canada and Australia
Working with Dr. Anthony Sayers (University of Calgary), this project examines the dispersal of power in federal states. Despite its apparent capacity to distribute power, little attention has been directed at the manner in which federalism shapes executive power in Canada and Australia. Close inspection of both cases indicates that a complex mix of intrastate and interstate federal mechanisms shapes prime ministerial authority. Interstate federalism more clearly constrains executive power in Australia. Differences in the operation of intrastate federalism reflect the divergent impact of the respective Senates on political parties and party system development. Measures of the infrastructural capacity of national and regional governments reveal that interstate federalism constrains executive power in both countries, more so in Australia than had previously been thought.