CoE logo
Venice Logo


Warren J. NEWMAN


Warren Newman is Senior General Counsel in the Constitutional, Administrative and International Law Section of the Department of Justice of Canada. He has practiced constitutional law for more than thirty-five years. A part-time professor, sessional lecturer and doctoral teaching fellow, Mr. Newman has taught courses in public law, constitutional law and comparative constitutional law at the Faculties of Law of the University of Ottawa, Queen’s University and McGill University. He is also a Director of the Professional Development LL.M. Program in Constitutional Law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, where he leads a seminar on federalism and institutions of government.


Mr. Newman has represented the Attorney General of Canada as co-counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada in a number of significant constitutional cases, including the Senate Reform Reference, the Quebec Secession Reference, the Manitoba Language Rights Reference, Reference re Public Schools Act (Man.), and the Bilodeau, Brunet and Arsenault-Cameron cases.  He has appeared before provincial trial and appellate courts in the Bertrand and Henderson cases, and the Potter and Hogan cases concerning the validity of the Constitution Amendment, 1997 (Quebec) and the Constitution Amendment, 1998 (Newfoundland Act), before the Ontario Court of Appeal in the Lalonde (Montfort Hospital) case, and before the Federal Court of Appeal in the Pelletier and Gagliano cases dealing with constitutional conventions and parliamentary privilege.  He also advised the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs during the enactment of An Act respecting constitutional amendments, S.C. 1996, c. 1, and An Act to give effect to the requirement for clarity as set out in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Quebec Secession Reference, S.C. 2000, c. 26, and on various Senate reform bills, the fixed-date elections legislation, as well as the Succession to the Throne Act, 2013, the constitutional validity of which he recently defended before the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal of Quebec in the Motard case. Mr. Newman has testified as an expert witness before numerous parliamentary committees dealing with constitutional matters and has spoken at many academic conferences.


Mr. Newman graduated with a diploma of collegial studies in Arts, a B.A. in history and political science, a B.C.L. in civil law and an LL.B. in common law from McGill University (1971-1981), where he was a University and a National Programme Scholar. He also received an LL.M. in constitutional law from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2004, and was awarded a Ph.D. in law at Queen’s University in 2019, with his doctoral dissertation on constitutional reform and amendment. He is a member of the Bars of Quebec and Ontario. 


In 1989 Mr. Newman received the Deputy Minister of Justice’s Prize for Professional Excellence for his work in the field of language rights; in 1997, a Merit Award from the Deputy Minister for his contribution to the drafting of the Attorney General of Canada’s submissions in the Quebec Secession Reference; and in 1998, an Award of Distinction from the Minister of Justice for his commitment to Canada’s linguistic and legal duality.  In 2009 he was named Advocatus Emeritus by the Bar of Quebec to honour his career-length contribution to the legal profession, and in 2011, he became a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation. In 2013, he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to constitutional scholarship, and in 2017, the Deputy Minister’s Achievement Coin commemorating the 35th Anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.   


From 1982 to 1984, Mr. Newman was the legal policy advisor to the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada.  After working as a policy analyst in the Federal-Provincial Relations Office, Mr. Newman was seconded to the Human Rights Law Section of the Department of Justice in 1985 to develop the legislative proposals that led to the enactment of Bill C-72, the 1988 Official Languages Act.  He also acted as the instructing officer on the drafting of the legislation.  In 1990, Mr. Newman was appointed Senior Counsel and the first Director of the Official Languages Law Group of the Department.  In 1994 he was named Special Advisor to the Associate Deputy Minister, Public Law, with responsibility for coordinating constitutional law and policy advice on national unity issues, before joining the Canadian Unity and Constitutional Affairs Group in 1996 as Litigation Coordinator.  He became General Counsel and Senior Coordinator of the Group in 1997, prior to his appointment to the Constitutional and Administrative Law Section as General Counsel in 1999. He was appointed Senior General Counsel in 2007.


In 1999, York University published Mr. Newman’s book, The Quebec Secession Reference: the Rule of Law and the Position of the Attorney General of Canada. His most recent articles and book chapters include:

  • “Constitutionalism, Legality and Legitimacy: A Canadian Perspective”, (2019) 13 Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law 121;
  • “The Rule of Law, the Separation of Powers and Judicial Independence in Canada”, in Oliver et al., eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution, Oxford University Press, 2017;
  •  “Some Observations on the Queen, the Crown, the Constitution, and the Courts”, (2017) 22 Review of Constitutional Studies 55;  
  • “The Promise and Limits of Cooperative Federalism as a Constitutional Principle”, (2016) 76 Supreme Court Law Review 43; “Constitutional Amendment by Legislation”, in Macfarlane, ed., Constitutional Amendment in Canada, University of Toronto Press, 2016;
  • “Of Castles and Living Trees: The Metaphorical and Structural Constitution”, (2015) 9 J.P.P.L;
  • “Putting One’s Faith in a Higher Power: Supreme Law, the Senate Reform Reference, Legislative Authority and the Amending Procedures”, (2015) 34 National Journal of Constitutional Law 99;
  • “Of Dissolution, Prorogation, and Constitutional Law, Principle and Convention: Maintaining Fundamental Distinctions during a Parliamentary Crisis”, (2010) 29 N.J.C.L. 217;
  • “The Constitutional Status of the Supreme Court of Canada”, (2009) 47 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 429;
  • “Parliamentary Privilege, the Canadian Constitution and the Courts”, (2008) 39 University of Ottawa Law Review 573;
  • “Living with the Amending Procedures: Prospects for Future Constitutional Reform in Canada”, in Mitchell et al., eds., A Living Tree: The Legacy of 1982 in Canada’s Political Evolution, LexisNexis, 2007;
  • “The Official Languages Act and the Constitutional and Legislative Recognition of Language Rights in Canada”, in Williams, ed., Language and Governance, University of Wales Press, 2007;
  • “Understanding the Rule of Law in Canada”, in Tierney, ed., Accommodating Cultural Diversity, Ashgate, U.K., 2007;
  • “Standing to Raise Constitutional Issues in Canada”, in R. Kay, ed., Comparative Perspectives, Bruylant, Brussels, 2005;
  • “The Principles of the Rule of Law and Parliamentary Sovereignty in Constitutional Theory and Litigation”, (2005) 16 N.J.C.L. 175;
  • “Adjudicating Divisions of Powers Issues: a Canadian Perspective”, in Building the UK’s Supreme Court, Oxford University Press, 2004;
  • “Understanding Language Rights, Equality and the Charter: Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Constitutional Interpretation” (2004) 15 N.J.C.L. 335;
  • “Defining the ‘Constitution of Canada’ Since 1982: The Scope of the Legislative Powers of Constitutional Amendment under Sections 44 and 45 of the Constitution Act, 1982”, (2003) 22 S.C.L.R. (2d) 423;
  • “Quelques réflexions sur la portée du principe constitutionnel de l’indépendance judiciaire au Canada”, (2003) 14 N.J.C.L. 319;  
  • “ ‘Grand Entrance Hall’, Back Door or Foundation Stone? The Role of Constitutional Principles in Construing and Applying the Constitution of Canada”, (2001) 14 S.C.L.R. (2d) 197.                                                                            
© Council of Europe 2007-2024