Michael Pal

Michael is Assistant Professor in Law at the University of Ottawa.

Michael Pal is a 2012 Trudeau scholar and assistant professor in the Faculty of Common Law at the University of Ottawa, where he specializes in the law of democracy, election law, constitutional law, and administrative law. Pal studies elements of how law and politics intersect, including campaign finance, electoral boundaries, political party funding, political speech, disputed election results, voter suppression, the right to vote, and electoral management bodies. He is a fellow at the Mowat Centre for Public Policy in the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto.

Doctoral research

Changing the Rules of the Electoral Game: Partisan Manipulation of the Law of Democracy

Michael's dissertation is a comparative study of the law of democracy that explores how to ensure a fair democratic process. Elected representatives have incentives to engage in self-dealing by manipulating the rules of the electoral game for partisan ends on campaign finance, electoral boundaries, party funding, and voting rights. His research argues that the central problem in the law of democracy is elected representatives using state power to diminish their accountability to the electorate. The dissertation asks how courts, electoral boundary commissions, and election commissions such as Elections Canada can ensure a fair democratic process. The study compares different legal approaches to overseeing the law of democracy in Canada, the United Sates, India, the United Kingdom, and Australia. His research connects scholarship in both law and political science and focuses on the underlying constitutional structures that enable partisan lawmaking. The dissertation re-interprets the existing case law on the law of democracy and develops judicial doctrines that can be applied to promote a fair democratic process.

Michael Pal has recently obtained his SJD at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, where he was a SSHRC Canada graduate scholar and an instructor in the legal research and writing program. Since August 2014, he is assistant professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa. Mike is originally from Moncton, New Brunswick.

Michael Pal holds degrees in political science from Queen's University (BA) and the University of Toronto (MA), and law degrees from the University of Toronto (JD) and New York University’s Law School (LLM- legal theory). He is called to the Bar of Ontario. He previously clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and worked in a national law firm in Toronto.

Michael’s main area of research is the comparative law of democracy, including electoral boundaries, campaign finance, political speech, party funding, election administration and the right to vote. He was recently invited to appear as an expert witness before the House of Commons and Senate Committees studying the Fair Representation Act, which added more seats to the House of Commons. He has worked with Elections Canada to assist the 2012 federal electoral boundary commissioners tasked with redrawing the federal electoral map.

Pal has published in the McGill Law Journal, IRPP's Choices, and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review. He co-authored a research report for the Mowat Centre's Employment Insurance Task Force, among others. He is a past board member of the South Asian Legal Aid Clinic of Ontario, was president of the University of Toronto Students' Law Society, and was senior editor of the Faculty of Law Review. He has worked as a policy advisor in federal and provincial politics.

  • May 12, 2014
    Trudeau Scholar 2012 Michael Pal is hired as Professor of Common Law at the University of Otttawa. He will join the facultty as of July 1st, 2014. To read the press release, click on the following link: http://www.commonlaw.uottawa.ca/en/news/common-law-section-news/four-new...
  • November 25, 2012
    Passionate about their opinions and ideas, the Trudeau scholars are often writing texts published in different media. Several scholars have seen their comments published on the Web, while others have had their work featured as articles.
  • October 17, 2012
    Four members of the Trudeau community have recently been interviewed by various media outlets. 2012 Trudeau scholars Carla Suarez and Michael Pal, 2010 Visiting Trudeau fellow Steven Loft, and 2004 Trudeau scholar Robert Huish have discussed their current projects or subjects related to their research.
  • October 8, 2012
    2012 Trudeau scholar Michael Pal was recently quoted in two articles about electoral boundaries: "Judges worried about social engineering during redrawing of electoral map, documents show" from Postmedia News and "Staples: Alberta boundary commission stands up for voter equality"
  • September 14, 2012
    The Toronto Star has published an op-ed written by 2012 Trudeau scholar Michael Pal and Matthew Mendelsohn. The text is about a reform needed on Canadian electoral boundaries so that all Canadians could be equal by having votes with equal weight.