(Author: Anne-Sophie Ouellet, published on Pascale Fournier's website)
Great news: the Research Chair in Legal Pluralism and Comparative Law led by Professor Pascale Fournier has been renewed for a 5 year period, namely until October 2023! Professor Fournier was appointed as the Chair holder in 2012. The renewal of the Chair is made following the recommendation of the University of Ottawa Research Chairs Evaluation Committee and takes into consideration the level of excellence and productivity of the research, the impact level and international recognition, the ability to attract and retain the best interns, and the originality of the proposed research program in connection with the strategic areas of development in research of the University of Ottawa. Since 2012, the Chair has undertaken many research projects simultaneously. For the upcoming years, the Chair’s scholarship will be in line with the research projects led by Professor Fournier with Lebanese women from various religious beliefs.
Like other Middle Eastern countries where family law is strictly religious, Lebanon entrusts to eighteen officially recognized religious communities the power to administer their own tribunals and to apply their own religious family law. In an age of globalisation and movement of populations, Quebec’s tribunals have to position themselves on the compliance or non-compliance of religious law under international private law rules. A critical issue must be decided. If a couple, married under religious family law in Lebanon, asks for divorce in Quebec, should religious law be applied, thus respecting the right of minorities to their religious beliefs? Or is doing so furthering the oppression of women, therefore rendering Lebanese religious family law inapplicable in Quebec on the ground that it violates public order?
The Research Chair’s program, financed in part by the prestigious “Insight” grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council(SSHRC) for the next five years, has two components. The first one will examine the religious family law of the seven most important Lebanese religious communities officially recognized by the State, namely the Maronites, the Greek Orthodox, the Melkite Catholics, the Armenian Orthodox, the Sunnites, the Shias, and the Druze. This endeavour will aim to identify the consequences of religious family law on Lebanese women. Seventy interviews will be conducted with Lebanese women from these communities. This fieldwork will purport to contrast “formal” religious family law (law in books) with “living” religious family law (law in action), in order to identify the norms actually used and resorted to by women in the shadow of the law. The research team will then examine the consequences of the migration of religious family law in Quebec through private international law and its impact on the notion of public order in Quebec.
Professor Fournier’s research regarding access to justice and the rights of women and children was highlighted by the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, Mr. Jacques Frémont, during a reception held on November 28, 2017 celebrating excellence in research and education. This reception was aimed at honouring the faculty members who received important awards and recognitions in 2016-2017, who played a pivotal role in the experience and success of the University of Ottawa students at every level and who helped bolster the university’s reputation on the international stage, particularly from a research perspective.