Iain T. Benson, J.D., Ph.D., Research Fellow
Professor Benson, BA (Hons.), MA (Cantab.), JD, PhD, is a Religious Freedom & Business Foundation Research Fellow. He is also an academic, lecturer and practicing lawyer whose work focuses on constitutional law and human rights with particular focus on religious liberty, the nature of pluralism and multi-culturalism and the relationship between law, religion and human rights.
A frequent lecturer in many countries around the world; most recently, in August 2013, in Virginia USA to the International Consortium of Law and Religion Scholars, and prior to that, the Canadian High Commission in Mozambique (on “Civil Society and Government” in September 2012) and to the Plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (October 2012, on “Reflections on the Freedom of Conscience and Religion”) and, in Istanbul, Turkey to the International Institute for Religious Liberty (March 2013), he was invited (2012) to be a “special expert” to the group advising the Ontario Human Rights Commission on its reworking of its policy on “creed” and a short book, Living Together with Disagreement: Pluralism, the Secular and the Fair Treatment of Beliefs by Law was published by Connor Court Publishing, Australia in 2012.
He was retained by the Federal Government of Canada as one of two background writers for the Federal Government’s Policy Research Initiative on “Religion and Public Policy” as an aspect of multi-culturalism and his “Taking a Fresh Look at Religion and Public Policy: The Need for a Paradigm Shift” was submitted to the PRI in January 2008. He was one of the drafters of the South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms (signed by all major religions in that country in September 2010) and remains closely involved in trying to bring the Charter into law in that country. In May 2011he was the Special Rapporteur on Law and Religion in Canada and South Africa to the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences, Vatican City (published in the Academy Proceedings in 2012). He has published many academic articles and book chapters.
From 2009 -2013, was Senior Associate Counsel for Miller Thomson LLP in Toronto, Canada. He is called to the Bars of B.C. and Ontario; is Professor Extraordinary, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa (2009, ongoing); Research Fellow, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Human Rights, Public and International Law (2008, ongoing); Senior Research Fellow, Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta (2010, ongoing) and a Member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Ottawa, Canada (2010, ongoing) and Visiting Professor at the University of Western Ontario Law School in London, Ontario.
He has been involved in many of the leading cases on religious liberty in Canada and in other countries over the last two decades and has acted for a wide variety of individuals and groups as legal counsel before all levels of court including the Supreme Court of Canada. Both the Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitutional Court of South Africa have cited his work.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, he was schooled in Victoria British Columbia before graduating from Queen’s University, Cambridge University and the University of Windsor. He has a PhD in law (Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg) with a thesis entitled: “An Associational Framework for the Reconciliation of Competing Rights Claims Involving the Freedom of Religion.” He works in English and French and divides his time between France and Canada when he is not traveling elsewhere.