Due: Canadian Bar Association Student Essay Competition

DUE: May 31, 2017 — CABA is proud to announce the 2017 edition of its annual student essay competition.  This competition is an integral part of CABA’s mission to provide a voice to Canadians in the United States and Americans in Canada and to foster a greater understanding of rules with cross-border implications as well as an engagement in their development.


Any student registered in a Canadian or American law school for the Winter and/or Spring semesters of 2017 (whether in the J.D., LL.B., B.C.L. or equivalent first degree program, or in the LL.M. program).  However, students completing doctoral or postdoctoral studies are not admissible.

In addition, based on this year’s essay theme, students registered in undergraduate or master’s degree programs which have a mandatory international law component are also admissible.


Since the North Agreement Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), a regional agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico to implement a free trade area, entered into force on January 1, 1994, the two-way trade between Canada and the United States has more than tripled, reaching some $2.4 billion in goods and services daily over the course of 2015.[1]  Canada is now the top export destination for 35 American states, while the United States is the most important destination for Canada’s direct investments abroad.[2]

Despite this increasing level of economic interdependency and trade, during his campaign for the American presidential election, Donald Trump qualified NAFTA as the “worst deal ever made” and vowed to withdraw from the agreement if he cannot achieve a satisfactory renegotiation of the treaty.[3]  In the days following the election, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that he was “happy to talk” about renegotiating NAFTA.[4]  A memo from Mr. Trump’s transition team obtained by the media indicates that the next American president intends to follow through on the renegotiation of NAFTA, and more particularly with regards to Canada, intends to target the rules currently regulating livestock and softwood lumber.[5]

Since it is likely that renegotiation over NAFTA will commence in 2016, we invite students to write essays identifying one issue which in their opinions should be part of the renegotiation of the agreement between Canada and the United States.  The essays should explain why the issue is in need of renegotiation, how it affects both countries, and how a renegotiated agreement should address the issue and why.


The essays should be drafted in English or French, submitted in both Word and PDF formats, and have no more than 3500 words, including the title and the footnotes.  It should be submitted no later than May 31, 2017 via email at policyandadvocacy@canambar.com.  In the cover email, the student should include the following information: (a) full name; (b) city of origin; (c) school; (d) program; (e) year level; (f) address; and (g) phone number.

The winner of the essay will be announced on or before July 31, 2017.[6]

$500 USD from our sponsor Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Publication of the winning essay on CABA’s website

[1] Government of Canada, “Canada and the United States,” accessible online at http://can-am.gc.ca/relations/commercial_relations_commerciales.aspx?lang=eng (last accessed on November 20, 2016).
[2] Id.
[3] Stephen Gandel, “Donald Trump Says NAFTA Was the Worst Trade Deal the U.S. Ever Signed”, September 27, 2016, accessible online at http://fortune.com/2016/09/27/presidential-debate-nafta-agreement/ (last accessed on November 20, 2016).
[4] Jesse Winter, “Trudeau happy to talk about NAFTA with Trump”, November 10, 2016, accessible online at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/11/10/trudeau-happy-to-talk-about-nafta-with-trump.html (last accessed on November 20, 2106).
[5] Steven Chase, “Trump team flags Canadian livestock and lumber as targets in NAFTA reset”, November 16, 2015, accessible online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadian-businesses-seek-clarity-on-trumps-trade-policies/article32869000/ (last accessed on November 20, 2016).
[6] CABA hereby reserves its right not to nominate a winning essay should the quality of the submissions fall below reasonable standards applicable to academic research and drafting.
[7] At its discretion, CABA may also organize an event during the Fall of 2017 on a theme related to the winning essay.


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