New Masters in Legislative Studies at the University of Ottawa

Posted on Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A new Masters in Legislative Studies offers law graduates an opportunity to specialize in the art of preparing normative instruments (such as statutes, regulations, guidelines, international agreements, codes of conduct and governmental contracts) and in the development of public policy.

In recent years, the roles of legal and legislative counsel have evolved considerably. Legal norm-creating functions are now exercised by numerous actors ranging from the State to international organizations and including Aboriginal governments, municipal bodies, NGOs, professional and industrial associations and various regulatory bodies. The Masters in Legislative Studies is at the forefront of these emerging realities, aiming to educate the different actors involved in the creation, interpretation and application of normative instruments. It will also provide training for those who work in the development of public policy across all areas of law, whether they be aboriginal or environmental law, new technologies or international relations.

This program is unique. Although law programs generally involve the content of legislation and other normative instruments, this Masters in Legislative Studies focuses on the forms, structures, styles, efficiencies and social impacts of these instruments as a matter of governance. It includes, but is not strictly limited to, legislative drafting; it also includes an examination of the principles and rules underlying the creation of norms and the choice of policy instruments, which are rarely considered in the study of particular areas of law.

According to Céline Lévesque (Dean of the Civil Law Section), “Ottawa is an ideal place for such graduate studies; our Faculty of Law maintains a host of linkages with governmental actors, particularly those in the federal public service due to our  proximity to federal institutions.” And Ruth Sullivan, one of the most widely cited authors on legislative interpretation in Canada, has said, “There is a pressing need, not only for training in the skills needed to prepare effective legislation as a tool of governance and social change, but also for critical analysis of assumptions, concepts and processes to ensure that legislation will serve the evolving needs of society in the 21st century.Lionel Levert and John Mark Keyes, former Chief Legislative Counsels of Canada, confirm the need for training and emphasize that the timing of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa could not be better to offer a program that takes a comprehensive view of normative instruments.

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