Emmett Macfarlane

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo

Emmett Macfarlane is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Macfarlane earned his BA at the University of Western Ontario (2003) and his MA (2005) and PhD (2009) at Queen’s University. From 2009-11 he undertook a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship as an Associate of the Canada Program at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (2009-10) and a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School (2010-11). Dr. Macfarlane’s research has focused on judicial decision making and behaviour on the Supreme Court of Canada. This research has culminated in a book manuscript accepted for publication by UBC Press titled Governing from the Bench: The Judicial Role and the Supreme Court of Canada. He has also published on political discourse and media coverage surrounding the Charter of Rights. His current research examines the policy impact that results from legislative and judicial interactions over Charter issues. The research examines federal, provincial and municipal responses to court rulings on rights and explores the implications these interactions have for policy change, governance and institutional relationships. Case study research connected to this project investigates, for example, the dispute over the safe injection site in Vancouver, BC. Another project also examines Canadian security policy since 9/11 under the Charter. Dr. Macfarlane teaches a range of courses on Canadian politics and public policy.

Most Recent Posts

Macfarlane: Are the Liberal party’s calls for parliamentary oversight of Canada’s intelligence services warranted?

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February 6, 2014

One concern with the push for parliamentary oversight is the risk that it would actually cloud accountability. This may seem counter-intuitive, given that parliamentarians are elected representatives, but it becomes very difficult for opposition members of the House of Commons to hold the government to account for state activity that they themselves had input and […]

Macfarlane: Who had the right response to the Boston Marathon attack, Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper?

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April 19, 2013

None of our political leaders come out of this looking particularly good. Most significantly, Harper’s comments amount to a disgraceful politicization of the Boston Marathon attack (and, it should be noted, the NDP shamelessly piled on, signalling agreement with Harper’s position on the CBC show Power and Politics). Even if one takes Trudeau’s comments out […]

Macfarlane: Should the Canadian government put a price on carbon?

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October 11, 2012

Any attempt to price carbon will mean either a direct tax on Canadians or a system that creates cost increases that are then passed on to consumers. There is a strong consensus among climate scientists and economists that pricing carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions. The question remains, however, whether doing so […]

E Macfarlane: Do separatist movements around the world have anything to learn from the PQ?

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September 6, 2012

While separatist movements in other countries can no doubt learn lessons from the PQ in terms of strategy and the use of nationalist rhetoric, it’s important not to underestimate the relative uniqueness of the sovereignty movement in Canada. Many ethnic or linguistic minorities continue to endure oppression and overt assimilationist policies, and few benefit from […]

Macfarlane: Should religion be a tool of Canadian foreign policy?

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February 20, 2012

No. Religion should not be used as a tool to develop policy in a free and democratic state. But even without regard to “separation of state and church” concerns, it is worth noting that initiatives like the Office of Religious Freedom are misguided for other reasons. The protection of religious minorities is a noble goal […]