Mary Liston is an Associate Professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia. She teaches public law including administrative and constitutional law, legal theory, and law and literature. Her research focuses on public law broadly and administrative law in particular. It also lies at the intersection of constitutional law, legal theory, and democratic theory. She has participated in two leading casebooks as a co-author of Public Law: Cases, Commentary and Analysis and as a contributor to Administrative Law in Context. Her work has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in several precedential public law cases.
Professor Liston’s early scholarship focused on the evolution of the concept of the rule of law and how it functions as a foundational legal principle in Canadian public law. This evolution tracked both theoretical and institutional change, culminating in a reconceptualization of this principle in the Canadian state. Her work grapples with the normative and institutional challenges that political power poses for the rule of law and democratic governance. She seeks to understand the complexity that good government demands as well as the current weaknesses in our system of responsible government. And, her work addresses—where possible—the legal means to improve accountability, public participation, and structures of justification for state action. Profiles of her work in administrative law can be found at Allard Law’s Research Portal.
Professor Liston has developed sub-areas of expertise in the emerging field of Aboriginal administrative law as well as modes of interpreting legal texts. She has also brought her perspective to bear on public law in other jurisdictions. By developing a comparative approach, she has placed Canadian public law in dialogue with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Her comparative learning also extends to a deep commitment to better understand Indigenous legal orders in Canada. Finally, she has been working on a project examining on the role of apologies in Canadian public law.
- Administrative Law
- Public Law and the Charter
- Law and Literature
- Reconciliation in Settler Societies: Legal and Political Responses
Professor Liston supervises graduate students working in administrative law, comparative public law, and Aboriginal law. She welcomes interested students to apply in these and other areas of her research interests. If you are interested in researching in one of these areas, please send an email with a brief research proposal. She has also supervised many Directed Research projects in public law.
|Andrew Pilliar||PhD||Increasing Legal Market Innovation to Improve Access to Civil Justice in Canada|
|Alan Freckelton||LLM||The Concept of Deference in Substantive Review of Administrative Decisions in Four Common Law Countries|
|Sarah Parker||LLM||Discretionary Administrative Decisions and the Charter: Doré and Determining the “Proportionate” Balance|
|Andrew Pilliar||LLM||Exploring a Law Firm Business Model to Improve Access to Justice and Decrease Lawyer Dissatisfaction|
Directed Research Supervision
|Aniz Alani||Constitutional Conventions in Canada: Origins, Purpose, and Scope|
The Politics of Proportionality: Administrative Decisions and the Charter in Canadian Appellate Courts (2016-2018)
Ms. Baigent published a revised version of this paper: “Undoing Doré: Judicial Resistance in Canadian Appellate Courts” (2020) 33:1 Canadian Journal of Administrative Law & Practice, 63-100
|Kate Bond||Little House on the Land Claim: Aboriginal Title, Children’s Settler Narratives, and Colonial Amnesia|
|Grace Brunger||For This We Are Sorry: An Analysis of the Canadian Government’s Apology for Residential Schools|
|Shea Coulson||Collective Response and The Ethics of Sustainable Decision Making: Regulation, Consultation, and Sustainable Development|
|Caitlin Ohama-Darcus||Standing Rights of Administrative Tribunals on Judicial Review|
|Sara Jackson||Law and Morality: How Moral Lessons from Children’s Literature Influence and Develop Legal Systems|
|Brett Nash||Two Courts, Two Approaches: An Analysis of the Influence of Libertarian Values in Decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada and the United States Supreme Court Concerning Gun Control|
|Joshua Ben Nichols||Theories of Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Rule of Law|
|Ian Wiebe||Openness and Transparency in the National Security Context: Canada’s Open Access Regime and Routes to Reform|
- Philip Bryden, Peter Carver, Adam Dodek, Craig Forcese, Richard Haigh, Mary Liston and Constance MacIntosh (eds), Public Law, 4th ed (Toronto: Emond-Montgomery, 2020).
- Chapter 1 Introduction: Public Law in Canada, Chapter 10 Statutory Interpretation, and Chapter 5 subsection on The Democracy Principle and Constitutional Amendments Requiring a Super-Majority.
- “Administering the Canadian Rule of Law,” in Colleen Flood and Lorne Sossin (eds), Administrative Law in Context, 3rd ed (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2018) 139-182.
- Previous versions of this chapter have been cited favourably by the Supreme Court of Canada in Doré v Barreau du Québec, 2012 SCR 12 at ¶29 and ¶35 and Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v Khosa,  1 SCR 339 at ¶81. You can find previous versions on SSRN (2013 and 2008) and Allard Law’s Research Commons (2013 and 2008).
Articles, Book Chapters and Other Writing
- “Canada - The rule of laws - Legal pluralism, pipelines, and indigenous sovereignty” (2020) Public Law 577-580.
- “Bell is the Tell I’m Thinking of” blog post (part of the Guest Posts from the West Coast) available at Administrative Law Matters and Allard Research Commons. See also the rejoinder “Dear Administrative (An)Nihilists at Administrative Law Matters.
- “Representing Jurisdiction: Decolonizing Administrative Law in a Multijural State” in Jason NE Varuhas and Shona Wilson Stark (eds), The Frontiers of Public Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2019), 177-203.
- “The Most Opaque Branch: The (Un)Accountable Growth of Executive Power in Canadian Government” in Richard Albert, Paul Daly, and Vanessa A. MacDonnell (eds), The Canadian Constitution in Transition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019) 19-59.
- “Deference as Respect: Lost in Translation?” in Paul Daly and Leonid Sirota (eds), A Decade of Dunsmuir / Les 10 ans de Dunsmuir, 2018 Special issue of the Canadian Journal of Administrative Law & Practice, 47-54. This article first appeared as a blog post at Administrative Law Matters.
- “Six Impossible Things” in Chris Hunt, Lorne Neudorf and Micah Rankin (eds), Legislating Statutory Interpretation: Perspectives from the Common Law World (Toronto: Carswell, 2018) 321-352.
- “2018 Social Justice Law Conference: The Role of the Legal Community in Supporting Social Movements” (2018) 76:3 The Advocate (Vancouver Bar Association: Vancouver) 415-422.
- “The Canadian Rule of Law: Past, Present, Future” in Errol Mendes (ed), Canada’s Constitutional Democracy: The 150th Anniversary Celebration (Toronto: Lexis Nexis, 2017), 139-154.
- “Administering the Charter, Proportioning Justice: Thirty-five Years of Development in a Nutshell,” (June 2017) 30:2 Canadian Journal of Administrative Law & Practice, 211-246.
- Cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in Law Society of British Columbia v Trinity Western University, 2018 SCC 32 at ¶111.
- “Expanding the parameters of participatory public law: A democratic right to public participation and the State’s duty of public consultation” (2017) 63:2 McGill Law Journal 375-416.
- “Transubstantiation in Canadian Public Law: Processing Substance and Instantiating Process” in John Bell, Mark Elliott, Philip Murray and Jason Varuhas (eds), Public Law Adjudication in Common Law Systems: Process and Substance (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2016), 213-242. View in Allard Research Commons.
- “Evolving Capacities: The BC Representative for Children and Youth as a Hybrid Model of Oversight,” in Laverne Jacobs and Sasha Baglay (eds), The Nature of Inquisitorial Processes in Administrative Regimes: Global Perspectives (Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2013), 359-387. View in Allard Research Commons.
- “The Rule of Law” in George T. Kurian et al. (eds), The Encyclopedia of Political Science (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010), 1493-1497. View in Allard Research Commons.
- “Witnessing Arbitrariness: Roncarelli v Duplessis Fifty Years On” (2010) 55:3 McGill Law Journal 689-720. View in Allard Research Commons.
- Special issue on The Legacy of Roncarelli v Duplessis 1959-2009.
- “The Rule of Law Through the Looking Glass” (2009) 21:1 Law and Literature 42-77.
- Special 20th anniversary issue of the journal. View in Allard Research Commons.
- Mary Liston and Joseph Carens, “Immigration and Integration in Canada” in Atsushi Kondo (ed), Migration and Globalisation: Comparing Immigration Policy in Developed Countries (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2008), 207-227. View in Allard Research Commons.
- “Willis, ‘Theology,’ and the Rule of Law” (2005) 55 University of Toronto Law Journal, 767-795. View in Allard Research Commons.
- Special issue of the UTLJ on Administrative Law Today: Culture, Ideas, Institutions, Processes, Values – Essays in Honour of John Willis.
- “‘Alert, alive and sensitive’: Baker, the duty to give reasons, and the ethos of justification in Canadian public law” in David Dyzenhaus (ed), The Unity of Public Law (Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing, 2004), 113-141. View in Allard Research Commons.
- Cited favourably by the Supreme Court of Canada in R v REM,  3 SCR 3, 2008 SCC 51 at ¶11.
- Centre for Feminist Legal Studies
- Indigenous Legal Studies
- Aboriginal and Indigenous law
- Administrative law and regulatory governance
- Comparative law
- Jurisprudence, legal theory, and critical studies
- Public and constitutional law
“How is our multijural legal system animated by a deep form of legal pluralism? What must Canadian courts do to work with this deep diversity—particularly the need to recognize distinctive Indigenous jurisdictions in public law?”