Warring Sovereignties: Church Control and State Pressure at the University of Ottawa

University of Ottawa Press, 2020

This first history of the University of Ottawa written by a non-Catholic explores the battle between religious and non-secular cultures for control of the university in the 1960s. Canon law, with particular emphasis on Oblate norms, was a clear expression of Catholic sovereignty in the university. While this sovereignty conditioned Oblate governance choices, the Government of Ontario became increasingly keen on reforming the University of Ottawa into a non-denominational corporation. Government pressure was coupled with shifting cultural expectations of the university’s social role, while an increasingly lay professorate helped put pressure on the Oblates from within. These twin pressures for removing religious control irked the Oblates, who put up stiff resistance, betraying their reticence to the liberalization of higher education. While the government valued social policy, the Oblates focused on educating individuals. Although the Oblates ultimately lost, history is as relevant as ever, and this book comes at a time when social planning is becoming increasingly prevalent within universities.

‘Caught by Private Law: a review of visitors’ jurisdiction in Canada’

36 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice (2019)

Visitors, an office in charitable corporations that occupies the position of the Superior Court in all matters pertaining to the charity, are a forgotten area of law in Canada. This article resurrects the jurisdiction by explaining its utility for university corporations. Visitors are private courts of appeal from university decisions. They are empowered to adjudicate academic as well as legal disputes relating to relationships between the university, its officers, its professors, and its students. The article lays out the private law origins of the office and contrasts this approach with the administrative law model more recently in vogue. The administrative law approach to visitation has, over the course of the twentieth century, eroded the jurisdiction, yet it appears from Canadian practice that the jurisdiction remains eminently useful across the country. The article details just how the visitor’s office has been used in Canadian universities beginning in 1803 going up to 1992. In so doing, the office’s strong points as well as its weaknesses are discussed.

‘Diotima’s Scaffolding: an account of Andrew Marvell’s use of love’

4:2 Marvell Studies (2019).

By adducing a reading of Diotima’s Ladder of Love, expressed in the Symposium, Marvell’s mower poems that we can date to the 1650s and his ‘Definition of Love’ seem to be deeply politicized works. They do not, however, appear to take deeply political positions. They situate their speakers and characters in terms comparable to the Ladder of Love. In so doing, they show a Christian humanist use of love that accounts for Marvell’s neutral wit. Our poet created mirrors for gentry in republican England that encouraged the creation and maintenance of networks based on love. His focus moves away from national politics toward county life and the need to move past the parliamentary-royalist divide. In short, by reading these four poems beside the Ladder of Love, we better understand how Marvell manages to be political without clearly expressing his religious or political positions.

‘The Art in Judging’

4 The Conscious Lawyer (October 2018)

A short piece extrapolating from a close reading of several passages from Aristotle’s Poetics. It suggests that a judge’s role is that of a poet representing a slice of reality rather than a rhetorician arguing for a specific outcome. This slight shift in emphasis has wide implications for law and religion because it better situates judges as cultural figures with correspondingly cultural responsibilities.

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Works in progress

Article: ‘Transcendence without the Book: narratives surrounding BDSM practice’

Article: ‘The House of Fairfax and Andrew Marvell’s Early Politics

Article: ‘Courts in Aid of Parliament: the potential application of Miller 2 in Canada’

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