Student Earns Prize for Best Undergraduate Essay in Atlantic Canada

Elizabeth Matheson has been awarded the Larry Collins Prize for the best undergraduate essay written by a student attending university in Atlantic Canada.

The fourth-year student from Miramichi, NB, wrote the winning paper for Dr. Tom Bateman’s course The Canadian Constitution: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“I’m so grateful that Dr. Bateman believed in my work to the extent that he wanted to submit it for the award,” she said. “It feels great to receive positive feedback on a product that I was so passionate about.”


The paper examines how section 33.1 of the Criminal Code—the government's response to the Daviault decision regarding the use of the defence of intoxication in crimes of personal violence—offends the rule of law.

Dr. Bateman said the paper was a “model of undergraduate scholarship.”


“Elizabeth's paper is well-researched, impeccably written, and reveals a sound grasp of criminal and constitutional law.”


Matheson is double majoring in Criminology and Law, Politics and Society and was able to apply perspectives from both fields in the paper.


“Because this legislation has been found to be unconstitutional in some provinces but not others, the predictability of the application of law is in jeopardy until the Supreme Court of Canada rules on the constitutionality of s. 33.1. I was able to combine what I was learning from Dr. Bateman with my prior knowledge of law surrounding the intoxication defence and sexual assault that I gained from my time learning from Dr. Karla O'Regan to write a research paper that I was truly proud of,” she said.


Matheson has worked closely with Dr. O’Regan throughout her degree which has cultivated her interest in law.  After completing her Bachelor of Arts, she plans to attend law school with the goal of pursuing a career in criminal or constitutional law.


“I really have Dr. O'Regan to thank for inspiring my interest in the study of law. I took both her Criminal Law and Advanced Criminal Law classes, which were incredibly eye-opening and allowed me to dive deep into the subject,” Matheson said. “Working with her has allowed me to enhance my writing and analysis skills—tools that will undoubtedly prepare me for future study.”