Vanessa MacDonnell

Carte électronique

Vanessa MacDonnell
Professeure agrégée

B.Sc. (St. Francis Xavier University)
J.D. (Toronto)
LL.M. (Harvard)

Office: Brooks 423

Office Phone : 613-562-5800 poste 7917
Office Fax : 613-562-5124

Courriel professionnel :


Vanessa MacDonnell joined the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section) in 2012. She is an expert in constitutional theory, criminal law and the law of evidence. Vanessa’s current research examines how political actors interpret and implement constitutional demands. Her work is comparative and draws on constitutional law and theory from a range of jurisdictions. Recent papers have focussed on rethinking the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, developing a theory of quasi-constitutional legislation, and probing the role of civil servants in the implementation of constitutional rights. Vanessa also writes regularly on the role of the jury in contemporary criminal law.

Vanessa is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (J.D.) and Harvard Law School (LL.M.). After clerking for Justice Louise Charron at the Supreme Court of Canada, she joined the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law, where she was an Assistant Professor between 2010 and 2012. Vanessa has held visiting research fellowships at the University of the Witwatersrand, the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public and International Law, and King's College London. She is currently a member of the Board of Editors of the National Journal of Constitutional Law.

Vanessa teaches or has taught criminal law, evidence, constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, administrative law, a Supreme Court of Canada seminar, and a graduate course on the impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on criminal law and procedure. In 2011 she received the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Vanessa recently appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada as co-counsel for the intervener Criminal Lawyer's Association in R v Saeed.

Vanessa tweets about current affairs at @vanessa_macd.

Read her papers on SSRN:


Edited Collections

The Canadian Constitution in Transition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018) (forthcoming) (with Richard Albert & Paul Daly, eds).

Articles and Book Chapters

"Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) as Constitutional Implementation" (2018) Canadian Bar Review (forthcoming).

"Introduction" in Richard Albert, Paul Daly & Vanessa MacDonnell, eds, The Canadian Constitution in Transition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018)  (forthcoming) (with Richard Albert & Paul Daly).

"The Reductionism of Global Models of Constitutional Rights" (2018) Journal of Law & Ethics of Human Rights (forthcoming).

"The Right to a Representative Jury: Beyond Kokopenace" (2017) 64 Criminal Law Quarterly 334.

"The New Parliamentary Sovereignty" (2016) 21:1 Review of Constitutional Studies 13.

"A Theory of Quasi-Constitutional Legislation" (2016) 53:2 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 508.

"The Civil Servant's Role in the Implementation of Constitutional Rights" (2015) 13:2 International Journal of Constitutional Law 383.

"The New Self-Defence Law: Progressive Development or Status Quo?" (2014) 92:2 Canadian Bar Review 301.

"Equality & Incrementalism? The Role of Common Law Reasoning in Constitutional Rights Cases" (2014) 44:3 Ottawa Law Review 467 (with Jula Hughes & Karen Pearlston).

"Internet Surveillance and Popular Constitutionalism" in George Williams, Fergal Davis & Nicola McGarrity, eds, Surveillance, Counter-Terrorism and Comparative Constitutionalism (Oxford: Routledge, 2014) 313.

"The Jury Vetting Cases: New Insights on Jury Trials in Criminal Cases?" (2013) 63 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 419. 

"The Constitution as Framework for Governance" (2013) 63:4 University of Toronto Law Journal 624.

"Social Science Evidence in German and Canadian Constitutional Law: Some Comparative Observations" (2013) 32:1 National Journal of Constitutional Law 23 (with Jula Hughes).

"The German Abortion Decisions and the Protective Function in German and Canadian Constitutional Law" (2013) 50:4 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 999 (with Jula Hughes).

"R v Sinclair: A New Trend in Balancing Individual Rights Against Societal Interests Outside of Section One of the Charter" (2012) 38 Queen's Law Journal 137.

"Developments in Constitutional Law, 2011-2012 Term" (2012) 59 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 51.

"Assessing the Impact of the Ancillary Powers Doctrine on Three Decades of Charter Jurisprudence" (2012) 58 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 225.

"The Protective Function and Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms" (2012) 17 Review of Constitutional Studies 53.

Notes and Case Comments

"Book Review: Juries in the 21st Century, by Jacqueline Horan" (2014) 12:1 Canadian Journal of Law and Technology 133.

"Problems with the Newly Expanded Powers of Citizen's Arrest" (2012) 33:5 For the Defence 22 (with Leo Russomanno).

"Harnessing Debates in Comparative Constitutional Law as Teaching Tools: My Experiences in the Classroom" (2012) 6 Canadian Legal Education Annual Review 117.

"Novel Applications of the Statutory Defence of Duress" (2011) 84 Criminal Reports (6th) 316.

"R v. Lanteigne: The "Temporal" Scope of Section 11(b) of the Charter and "Process Control" (2011) 81 Criminal Reports (6th) 248.

Haut de page