Tsinghua-Toronto Joint Conference: Frontiers of Constitutional Jurisprudence in China and Canada

Lin Cong’ 14

The University of Toronto Faculty of law in collaboration with the Tsinghua University Law School organized a conference on the “Frontiers of Constitutional Jurisprudence in China and Canada” on October 12-13, 2012 in Toronto. The conference features pioneering constitutional law scholars from China and Canada who present their studies on various topics of constitutional law. Professor Ian Lee from the University of Toronto delivered the welcoming remarks.

Professor Kent Roach presents on “A Comparative Examination of Wrongful Conviction”

“If a country thinks it does not have a wrongful conviction problem, it is not looking hard enough.–Kent Roach”

Kent Roach from the University of Toronto and Professor Na Jiang from Beijing Normal University presented on “A Comparative Examination of Wrongful Conviction”. Professor Roach structured his study on wrongful conviction as an unique piece in constitutional law scholarship. He suggests that criminal law is constitutional law that matters in the sense that people go to jail and get executed. Professor Roach further discussed the Innocence Projects in the U.S. and also comparison between inquisitorial and adversarial systems on the issue of wrongful conviction.

Professor Jiang presented on three waves of criminal law reforms in China in 2006, 2010, and 2012. These reforms were largely invoked by wrongful conviction cases, She and Zhao. Professor Jiang argued that these reforms, however inspiring, are more symbolic than effective.

Professor Zhaojie Li poses challenges to the panel.

Professor Yasmin Dawood and Professor Ian Lee from the University of Toronto added two distinct perspectives to the conference. Professor Dawood discussed “Democratic Rights as Structural Rights” through a political science angle. Professor Lee presented on “Reasonable Accommodation in an Economic Perspective” focusing on recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions on freedom of religion. Professor Lee suggested that the commonality of their studies lies in the interdisciplinary focus: bringing social science in constitutional law analysis.

Professor Ian Lee presents on his economic analysis of constitutional law

Professor Jinyan Li from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, chaired the panel of International Law and Constitutional Law. Professor Zhaojie Li from Tsinghua University and Professor Patrick Macklem from the University of Toronto presented on the complex relationship between constitutional law and international law in China and Canada. Professor Li began with an eulogy to Professor Betty Ho, who had strong connection with both Tsinghua and the University of Toronto. Professor Li then discussed how international law affected Chinese Constitution. Professor Macklem addressed the question “how dualist Canada is” by analyzing the Quebec Secession Reference and labour trilogy cases.

Professor Zhaojie Li answers questions from the audience

David Mulroney and Professor Zhaojie Li

David Mulroney, Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, and former Canadian ambassador to China, chaired the closing address. Dean Zhenmin Wang from Tsinghua University School of Law delivered the closing remarks on “Constitutionalism and Democracy: A Comparative Observation”.

For the full program of the conference, please visit the conference main page.