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Dr. James B. Kelly holds a PhD in political science from McGill University (1999) and a bachelor’s degree (honours) from University of Toronto (1992).  He has held visiting appointments at McGill University, where he served as the 2006 Seagram Chair in Canadian Studies at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. In 2008, Dr. Kelly was a Visiting Fellow at The University of Melbourne, in residence at the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at Melbourne Law School.

Dr. Kelly’s research has been funded by external granting agencies such as SSHRC and FQRSC.  His research focuses on the judicialization of politics associated with the introduction of bills of rights in parliamentary systems such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.  Dr. Kelly is the author and co-author of 5 books, including Governing with the Charter (UBC Press 2005), which was a finalist for the 2006 Donner Prize in Public Policy, a $35,000 prize awarded to the best book on public policy.  He has served as Co-editor (2011-12) and Assistant Editor (2009-11) of the Canadian Journal of Political Science.  Dr. Kelly has also served as Graduate Program Director (2004-6, 2020) and Associate Chair (2012-14, 2022-present) of the Department of Political Science at Concordia University. 

Dr. Kelly has been a guest lecturer at Queen's University Belfast (November 2013) and at the Centre for International Studies, University of Southern California (January 2013).  He has also been an invited lecturer at the Privy Council Office, the Department of Justice, and the Parliament of Canada. Dr. Kelly has also delivered lectures at the Crown Law Office and Ministry of Justice in New Zealand, and at the Department of Justice and Community Safety in the Australian Capital Territory. Finally, Dr. Kelly has been an invited guest of the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee at the Parliament of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, as well as the Scrutiny of Bills Committee at the Australian Senate.  In May 2022, he was a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law at Bar-IIan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel.

He recently completed Constraining the Court: Judicial Power and Policy Implementation in the Charter era, which will be published by UBC Press as part of the Law and Society Series in 2024. This manuscript is the follow-up to his book on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Governing with the Charter, published by UBC Press in 2005.  

Dr. Kelly has begun a new research project that focuses on the protection of human rights in Northern Ireland.  This SSHRC funded project (2019-2024) is entitled Stormont and the Protection of Human Rights: how does consociational power sharing affect the Northern Ireland Assembly's approach to human rights? 


Bachelor of Arts (Hons)
University of Toronto

McGill University

Research interests

Canadian and Comparative Judicial Politics; Parliamentary Bills of Rights and the legislative process; Politics of Northern Ireland

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