Rachael Johnstone: Hate Speech Legislation, the Commonwealth Model, and the Parliamentary Debates on Rights

In recent years, the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand have all announced proposals to regulate online hate speech. Each of these governments faces the challenge of deciding how to address the harms of hate speech, particularly in the online context, in a way that sufficiently protects free expression. In this research project, Dr. Emmett Macfarlane (University of Waterloo) and I will explore established and emerging hate speech policy in these three Commonwealth countries. Our research will question how each country's institutions and accompanying rights culture shape limits on rights implicated by hate speech laws.


This project five-year project is supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant.  

Kristin Good: Money and Local Democracy Project / Projet sur l’argent et la democratie locale

Over the next five years, Dr. Kristin Good will co-lead the Money and Local Democracy Project / Projet sur l’argent et la democratie locale.  This project will conduct a far-reaching investigation of campaign finance regulation and local election campaigning. This project is supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant following pilot work funded by Western Faculty of Social Science research seed grants.  With Dr. Good, the project is led by Professors Zack Taylor and Martin Horak at Western and Sandra Breux at l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Montréal. This mixed-methods project will entail the largest survey of election candidates ever conducted in Canada – over 4,000 candidates in 183 municipalities in all 10 provinces, which are home to four out of five Canadians – as well as analysis of candidates’ campaign finance disclosures over three election cycles and in-depth interviews with former candidates and campaign managers. The project will contribute new insights, both nationally and internationally, into whether differently configured campaign finance regimes create more competitive elections, how local candidates campaign, and enduring questions regarding the influence of money in politics.

Robert Finbow's Current Research focuses on the socially responsible elements of regional trade agreements, especially labour and social issues in NAFTA and the European Union.

His focus recently has been on the Canada-European Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), especially the implications for social policy.

He received an Erasmus+ grant from the European Commission for research on the CETA Implementation and Implications Project. He is currently completing the project which analyzes the programmatic and legislative changes required to bring CETA to fruition in Canada, the EU and Member States. The project covers a number of elements of CETA, including investment, intellectual property, agriculture, and the environmental and labour impacts. The CIPP conference on CETA Implementation occurred in late September 2019. Professor Finbow is currently working on a book for McGill-Queen’s University Press based on this conference.

He is also working on theoretical piece on populism in contemporary democracy with applications to the right populist political rhetoric in the “five eyes” states. The case studies examine similarities and variations in populist rhetoric and policy on trade and immigration. This builds upon the work conducted with an undergraduate researcher award held by recent graduate, Noel Guscott. Another project examines the constitutional and domestic governance implications of trade agreements for a collection exploring the legacy of the late Stephen Clarkson.

Scott Pruysers Current Research - Intra-party Democracy, Party Organization, and Political Psychology

Scott Pruysers’ research explores questions related to intra-party democracy, party organization, and political psychology, and is currently funded by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). His recent published papers have appeared in journals such as the Canadian Journal of Political Science, Political Studies, Journal of Public Opinion, Elections, & Parties, Personality and Individual Differences, and the European Journal of Politics and Gender.

Among various other papers and book chapters, most of his research attention is currently being devoted to two book projects. The first, tentatively titled Not Interested: An Examination of Political Ambition (with Julie Blais), explores nascent political ambition in Canada. The book establishes a profile of those who express political ambition (i.e., those interested in running for political office), explores the barriers to cultivating this interest, and reports the results of a number of experiments designed to foster ambition among historically marginalized and underrepresented groups. The second book, tentatively titled Who is the Political Party? (with William Cross), is a study of the makeup, activity, and organization of political parties in Canada – during and in between elections. While parties are often portrayed as singular coherent organizations, considerable variation exists within parties, especially at the constituency level where each major party has 338 unique local organizations.

International Security

Brian Bow continues work on a major project: "Regional Security Policy Coordination in North America"

Brian Bow's current research looks at the mechanisms for political management of networks of government officials working together to coordinate internal security policies (counter-terrorism, organized crime, border security, etc.) across the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders. This project is funded by a three-year SSHRC Insight Grant, and involves research trips to interview government officials and law enforcement officers all over North America. In the current phase of research, he has been conducting interviews in the Pacific Northwest, and maintains an affiliation with the Borders in Globalization project at University of Victoria. This is a modular, multi-step project, and the next phase (starting 2017-18) will extend the theoretical and research framework to internal security policy coordination in the European Union. Working with Frank Harvey and Ruben Zaiotti, he is organizing a workshop on security policy coordination in North America and Europe, to be held in Halifax in August 2016, with financial support from a new SSHRC Connections grant.  

Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement

Robert Finbow's current resarch has been focused on the Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

Robert Finbow spent his sabbatical year researching the Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), especially the evolution of the social dimension and investment provisions. He extended his comparisons to the US-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with research trips to Washington, Toronto, Ottawa and Europe. He was a participant at the United States Trade Representative, Stakeholder Forum during the thirteenth round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations held in New York in April.

Migration and Border Control in Europe

Ruben Zaiotti's research interests centre on migration and border control in Europe.

Ruben Zaiotti, Director of the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence, has continued to pursue his research interests on migration and border control in Europe. Not surprisingly, given what has been going on across the Atlantic in the last few months, he has been very busy responding to media requests and writing posts for his blog on European borders ( He has also published an edited volume on the topic: Externalizing Migration Management: Europe, North America and the Spread of ‘Remote Control’ Practices, Routledge, 2016. The book examines the practice of extending border controls beyond a country’s territory from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective, focusing on ‘remote control’ initiatives in Europe and North America. It highlights how in recent times these practices have become more visible, complex and widespread than ever before, raising various ethical, political and legal issues for the governments promoting them.