Research Interests

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It's hard to describe any one research interest, because I have quite a few and they are rather eclectic. Variety not only keeps my mind alive, but also provides me with better insights into any one particular topic. However, there is something of a theme - the rules and institutions of government and the limits of their reach. As constitutions limit as much as define the power of the state, I have been intrigued by what those limits might be and who sets them. 

I have a range of interests related to the Canadian constitution which include: constitutional conventions, the Charter of Rights, military law, parliamentary privilege, senate reform, federalism, intergovernmental relations, and even good old-fashioned division-of-powers case law. With this emphasis on constitutional issues, came an interest in the judges who play such a key role in shaping our political system. I'm just as interested in how our elected officials reach office, and I have developed a continuing interest in the way the Canadian electoral system distorts the choices made by the electorate in the voting booth. 

Finally, I have been wrestling with a long-term project that is more in the field of political theory. Many years of teaching classes on human rights have left me still asking what they really are. Legislated rights are one thing, but universal human rights are quite another. I'm interested in the basic debate about whether human rights are the inherent or natural rights of all humankind, or whether they are really just a product of fundamental moral choices that describe a particular view of the ideal society. However, I must confess that this project will carry on over some years to come!

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Andrew Heard -- Professor

Political Science Dept., Simon Fraser University