Kathryn Chan

Scholars
2009
Mentor(s): 
Study program:
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
Localisation:

Kathryn is an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria. She is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford, looking into ways to modernize the law to better support or regulate voluntary and not-for-profit organizations in Canada.

Facilitating the Production of Social Good: a Re-evaluation of the Relationship between the Voluntary Sector and the Canadian State

The broad aim of Kathryn Chan’s doctoral research project is to re-evaluate the legal framework governing Canada’s voluntary sector. The current paradigm is unsatisfactory and not based on any coherent theory of the appropriate relationship between the voluntary sector and the state.  Ms. Chan’s project will seek to strengthen the theoretical foundations of our voluntary sector regulation by addressing two broad research questions: what role should the law play to support or regulate voluntary organizations in Canada? And how should the law carry out this role?  Ultimately, Ms. Chan’s project will aim to set out alternative models for the regulation of the Canadian voluntary sector, which draw on the experience of other nations, but reflect our distinct constitutional, social and legal culture.
 

Kathryn Chan has long had both an academic interest in the relationship between government and civil society, and a practical interest in the challenges faced by those who seek to create a better society through their involvement in voluntary organizations.

Her master’s thesis, which was awarded the graduate essay prize of the Quebec Society of Comparative Law, criticized the longstanding, common law interpretation of the tax provisions governing registered charities as being inconsistent with Canada's constitutional structure and the federal government's commitment to bijural and bilingual federal laws.  It also examined previously ignored legal sources related to the concepts of charity and bienfaisance in Canada, including sources from Quebec’s civil law tradition. 

Following the completion of her LLM degree, Kathryn joined a boutique law firm dedicated to advising voluntary sector participants on governance and charity registration issues, and representing them in judicial appeals.  However, her experience as a practicing “charity lawyer” has caused her to question the often adversarial relationship between the Canadian state and the voluntary sector, and the extent to which our regulatory regime is dominated by tax concerns. The paradigm of voluntary sector regulation in Canada needs to be rethought, in Kathryn’s view, to ensure that the government facilitates the production of social good in a fair, secure and constitutionally sound manner. 

With her doctoral work, Kathryn hopes to strengthen the theoretical foundations of our voluntary sector regulation by addressing two broad normative questions: what role should the law play to support or regulate voluntary organizations in Canada? And how should the law carry out this role?  Ultimately, she hopes to develop alternative models for the regulation of the voluntary sector in Canada, which draw on the experience of other nations, but reflect our distinct constitutional, social and legal culture.

Internal publications