Michael Pal
Michael Pal
Associate Professor

S.J.D (Toronto)
LL.M. (Legal Theory) (NYU)
J.D. (Toronto)
M.A. (Toronto)
BA (Honour’s) (Queen’s)

57 Louis Pasteur St.
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 7908


Professor Michael Pal researches primarily the law of democracy, comparative constitutional law, and election law. He publishes in law, political science, and public policy.   

He is the author of over 27 academic articles and is currently at work on a book manuscript on the comparative constitutional law and politics of election commissions. He has recent publications on the unwritten principle of democracy in constitutional interpretation, voter privacy (with Elizabeth Judge), electoral governance in federations, the fourth branch of government in South Asia, and constitutional design of political rights.  He is also working on projects related to the notwithstanding clause, voter suppression, democracy and new technologies, and voting rights. 

He is the co-editor of Cyber-Threats to Canadian Democracy (McGill-Queen’s, 2022), which is the first book on election cyber-security in Canada.  

His article “The Unwritten Principle of Democracy” (2019) 65:2 McGill Law Journal 269 was cited by both the majority and dissenting opinions of the Supreme Court of Canada in Toronto (City) v Ontario (AG), 2021 SCC 34. 

Professor Pal has a J.D. and doctorate in law from the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, where he was a Pierre-Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholar, and an LL.M. in Legal Theory from NYU.  

Professor Pal has been influential on law reform in Canada and internationally. He has advised all levels of government in Canada on matters relating to election law and constitutional law. In 2017 he served as a Commissioner with the Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission for the Province of Ontario. The Commission's recommendations to add two new seats and to create the province's first Indigenous-majority riding and second francophone-majority riding were adopted by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. He was also the external legal and policy advisor to the Ministry of the Attorney General in Ontario's 2017 campaign finance reforms. He appears frequently before Parliamentary committees. Professor Pal advises election commissions around the world.  

He is a frequent commentator in the media, including a recent op-ed in The Globe and Mail on voting by mail in the pandemic and interviews for CBC's The National and CTV National News.   

He is on the Advisory Boards of the Indian Law Review, Electoral Integrity Project, and a member of the International Advisory Panel on Referendums at Australian National University. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the South Asian Legal Aid Clinic of Ontario. He previously clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario for Justices Moldaver, Blair, Goudge, and Feldman, and worked in a national law firm in Toronto. He was formerly a Fellow at the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto's School of Public Policy and Governance. 

Professor Pal received the Faculty of Common Law's 2018 award for teaching.   

His recent research funding includes SSHRC Insight Development Grant for a book on election commission, a Canadian Foundation for Legal Research Grant for work on the unwritten principle of democracy, funding from the Canadian American Bar Association for a project on citizenship, a 2016 SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant with Elizabeth F. Judge on big data politics and the implications for voter privacy, a SSHRC Connections Grant for a conference on electoral reform, and a grant from the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Province of Ontario for research on the representation of Indigenous Peoples in federal and provincial elections. 

He supervises doctoral students in constitutional law and theory and election law.  


Academic Articles and Book Chapters

  • Holly-Ann Garnet & Michael Pal, eds, Cyber-Threats to Canadian Democracy (Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2022) 

  • "The Unwritten Principle of Democracy" (2019) 65:2 McGill Law Journal 269 

  • Elizabeth F. Judge and Michael Pal, "Voter Privacy and Big-Data Elections" (2021) 58:1 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 1: https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/ohlj/vol58/iss1/1/.  

  • "Social Media and Democracy: Challenges for Election Law and Administration in Canada" (2020) 19:2 Election Law Journal 200: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/elj.2019.0557.    

  • "The Democratic Resilience of the Canadian Constitution" (with Richard Albert) in Mark Tushnet, Sanford Levinson, and Mark Graber, eds, Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? (Oxford University Press, 2018) 

  • "Is the Permanent Campaign the End of the Egalitarian Model of Elections?" in Richard Albert, Paul Daly, and Vanessa MacDonnell, eds, The Canadian Constitution in Transition (University of Toronto Press, 2018)  

  • "Constitutional Design of Political Rights" in James Gardner, ed, Comparative Election Law (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2022) 158.  

  • "The South Asian Fourth Branch" in Tarunabh Khaitain, Dinesha Samararatne, and Swati Jhaveri, eds, Constitutional Resilience in South Asia (Hart, 2022) 

  • Elizabeth F. Judge and Michael Pal, "Election Cyber-Security Challenges for Canada": https://www.cigionline.org/articles/election-cyber-security-challenges-canada 

  • "BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Ass'n v British Columbia (AG): Mandatory Registration Rules and Limits on Third Party Political Expression under the Charter" (2018) Supreme Court Law Review.  

  • "Evaluating Bill C-76: The Elections Modernization Act" (2019) Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law 

  • "Third Party Political Participation and Anti-Collusion Rules" (2018) Canadian Public Administration  

  • "Three Narratives About Canadian Election Law" (2017) 16:2 Election Law Journal 255 (U.S.) 

  • "Canadian Election Administration on Trial: Robocalls, Opitz, and Disputed Elections in the Courts" (2017) 28:2 King's Law Journal 324 (U.K.) 

  • "Constitutional Amendment After the Senate Reference and the Prospects for Electoral Reform" (2016) 76 Supreme Court Law Review 2nd 377 

  • "Electoral Management Bodies as a Fourth Branch of Government” (2016) 21:1 Review of Constitutional Studies 87 

  • “The Fractured Right to Vote: Democracy, Discretion, and Designing Electoral Districts" (2015) 61:2 McGill Law Journal 1 

  • "Fair Representation in the House of Commons?" (2015) Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law" Special Edition  

  • “Breakdowns in the Democratic Process and the Law of Canadian Democracy” (2011) 57:2 McGill Law Journal 299 

  • “The Promise and Limits of Citizens’ Assemblies: Deliberation, Institutions and the Law of Democracy” (2012) 38:1 Queen’s Law Journal 261 

  • “Democratic Rights and Social Science Evidence” (2014) 32:2 National Journal of Constitutional Law 151 

  • “Still Not Equal? Visible Minority Vote Dilution” (2014) 8:1 Canadian Political Science Review 85 (with Sujit Choudhry) 

  • “Is Every Ballot Equal? Visible Minority Vote Dilution in Canada” (2007) 13:1 IRPP Choices 1 (with Sujit Choudhry) 

  • “The Supreme Court of Canada’s Approach to the Recovery of Ultra Vires Taxes: At the Border of Private and Public Law” (2008) 66:1 University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review 65 

  • “The Impact of Regionally-Differentiated Employment Insurance Benefits on Charter-Protected Canadians” in Making EI Work, Keith Banting, ed. (Kingston-Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013) (with Sujit Choudhry) 

Research Reports

  • Elizabeth F. Judge and Michael Pal, "Privacy and the Electorate: Big Data and the Personalization of Politics", SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Report funded by a 2016 SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant
  • Melissa Molson and Michael Pal, “Moving Toward Voter Equality: Mowat Centre Report on the Proposed Electoral Boundaries for Ontario” (2012)