Responsible Scholarship in a Crisis: A Plea for Fairness in Academic Discourse on the Carbon Pricing References

Stepan Wood, Meinhard Doelle, Dayna Nadine Scott

Research output: Working paper


The Canadian federal government’s carbon pricing legislation has generated substantial public and academic debate. In this paper we argue that academic debate should adhere to standards for responsible conduct of research during crises such as the current climate emergency, and avoid the nastiness and distortion that infect populist political rhetoric and social media. We discuss the norms of responsible scholarship that apply to Canadian legal academics, with a focus on standards that demand scrupulous fairness to other scholars and to the materials one is analyzing. We argue that a recent article by Professor Dwight Newman on the Saskatchewan and Ontario reference cases upholding the constitutionality of the federal carbon pricing law does not live up to these standards in two ways. First, it treats other scholars unfairly by distorting their scholarly work and lumping them into derogatory, unsubstantiated general types. Second, it is unfair to the legal materials under consideration by portraying the relevant case law in an unduly selective manner to advance the author’s argument. We close the paper with some reflections on why this particular case matters.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020

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