Dr Debra M Haak - PhD (Queen's), MPhil (St Andrews), LLB (UNB), BA Hons (Western) - is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor (Adjunct) in the Faculty of Law at Queen's University, Canada. Her postdoctoral research project - “Not All Women: Individual and Group Rights Under the Canadian Charter” - considers women's equality in the context of section 7 rights claims and section 1 justifications.
Debra’s research is motivated by a concern over how law and policy in Canada contend with the different and at times divergent interests of individuals and groups in a diverse society. Differently situated individuals and groups increasingly make conflicting demands on the state, often framing those demands as rights claims. Legal decision makers, including judges and policy makers, make difficult choices between and among individuals and groups in a liberal and constitutional legal context. They increasingly rely on empirical and theoretical scholarship. Debra’s research considers whether and how the state does and ought to respond to and reconcile stakeholder demands, including how legal decision makers balance competing rights claims and use scholarly literature. Her PhD research focussed on the intractable debate over prostitution and sex work policy in Canada. Her research has been published in the UBC Law Review, the Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, The Globe & Mail, National Post, and in other print media and online publications across Canada. She has an article forthcoming in the Queen's Law Journal (Spring 2021).
Debra practiced commercial and insolvency litigation at Gowling WLG for 20 years, and appeared regularly before all levels of court in Ontario. She spent one court year at the Inns of Court in London, England, as the recipient of the prestigious Harold G Fox Foundation Scholarship. She marshaled for The Hon Mr. Justice John Thomas (later Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales).