Professor Stéphane Beaulac of the University of Montreal has recently returned from University College Cork in Ireland where he held a James M. Flaherty Visiting Professorship. On the subject of his visit, Dr. Beaulac reports:
For about fifteen years now, I have been a professor of law at the University of Montreal; I began my career at Dalhousie Law School in 1998. I have acquired my background in international law, at the graduate level, at the University of Cambridge (Darwin College), in England, where I obtained a first class honour for my LL.M. and got a Ph.D. under the supervision of professor Philip Allott (Trinity College). Along with my academic projects and lectureships in international public law, over the years, I have been research fellow and Visiting Professor in a number of institutions in Europe, including the European University Institute (as a Max Weber fellow), in Florence Italy, the Amsterdam Centre for International Law, in the Netherlands, the School of Law, University of Edinburgh (as a Neil MacCormick fellow), in Scotland, the Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute, in Northern Ireland, and the Comparative Law Centre of the University of Trento, Italy.
Thus my visit at the Law Department, University College Cork, in Ireland, as a James M. Flaherty Visiting Professor was, in a way, the pursuance of a series of research projects in the combined area of international law and comparative constitutional law. My interest for the law of independence, of course, sparked from the Quebec nationalist movement and the legal ramifications of the debates around the possible secession of a Canadian province, which brought two referenda (1980, 1995) and a major court decision by the Supreme Court of Canada (1998). In terms of research, I have published a book on the topic last year, the English version of which is entitled The Law of Independence – Quebec, Montenegro, Kosovo, Scotland, Catalonia (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2017). It is in this context that, as of late, I got interested in the legal debates relating to Brexit, specifically the referendum process followed in the June 2016 consultation, as well as the legal challenges, in Belfast, in London, and now on appeal at the United Kingdom Supreme Court.
My project at University College Cork: “What Brexit Means for Friends and Neighbours: The cases of Canada and Ireland”. It focused on the impact of Brexit on the law of independence, looking at the Canadian dealings with issues of secession, as well as the Irish experience with the tradition of holding referenda.
Two of the highlights of my research stay in Ireland, from mid-October to mid-January. One is my attendance of the last day of the hearings in the Brexit legal challenge case before the United Kingdom Supreme Court, in London, on 8 December 2016. This was nothing short of witnessing history in the making, as far as public law in concerned, given that all of the most important constitutional and international legal principles are involved in the case, in a legal field that Canada shares in tradition with the United Kingdom. In passing, I was staying in Cambridge, my alma mater, for my short time outside of Ireland (3 days), where I also gave a conference at the Faculty of Law (highlighting my capacity, as a James M Flaherty Visiting Professor).
The last highlight, of course, is the keynote address I gave at Iveagh House, Dublin, on 11 January 2017, on the occasion of the inauguration of the James M Flaherty Scholarship Programme of the Ireland Canada University Foundation, with the presence of Mr Charles Flanagan, TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade. My lecture was entitled: “Brexit: legal views from Canada and Ireland”. Needless to say that it was a splendid way to conclude my three-month stay in Ireland, as a James M Flaherty Visiting Professor.
To view professor Beaulac’s James M. Flaherty Lecture in Iveagh House, click on the above link
All and all, I expect this professional experience in Ireland to have long-lasting consequences on my scholarly work. Not only did it give me the opportunity to research one of my favourite topics, including fieldwork with the Brexit legal challenge, but it allowed me to develop new contacts at the Department of Law, University College Cork, that will undoubtedly prove most useful for the future. The plan, in terms of research output, is to write in 2017 a second volume on the Law of Independence, hopefully to be published at the beginning of 2018.
My greatest appreciations go to the Ireland Canada University Foundation, for making this research project a success, in every regards.
Cordialement et amicalement,
Prof. Dr. Stéphane Beaulac (Cantab.)