Law Matters | Summer 2017



One Hundred and Fifty Years.  This issue of Law Matters takes a moment to reflect on Canada’s 150th birthday, and Alberta’s “Legal Role” in helping shape those years from Canada’s birth to the world-respected Nation which we’ve become today.  To quote this issue’s timeline of Alberta’s role, we’ve been “punching above our legal weight” for some time, and, it seems, we have continued to do so.  In my experience as a Bencher with the Law Society of Alberta, I have come to understand and appreciate the respect that Alberta has held nationally in the field of law, and this issue helps explain how that respect has been earned.  We, as a profession, should be proud of our legacy and should guard our reputation carefully as we move forward into the next 150 years.  The road towards excellence in our profession was not an easy one, and was often carved through places where others dared not go.  Will Alberta continue to forge difficult, but important, pathways in the law in the future as it has in the past?  That will be up to all of us, I suppose.  That will be our challenge.

While our history as a profession is laudable, we enter a challenging future, where new paths will have to be set.  Our profession is premised on the fundamental belief that all are created equal, but even as we embrace that conception, we ignore the reality that the practical truth is that there are two tiers of justice in Canada, and in Alberta.  One for those with the financial capacity to afford a lawyer on full-retainer, and one for those who cannot.

The field of battle in so many of our court rooms today is, in theory, “fair”, but imagine a battlefield where on side is fighting with an M16 machine gun and the other engages the battle with a broadsword.

Will our lawyers, our Judges and our Law Society be leaders, as they have in the past, or will we follow the pack?  I hope it is the former. To paraphrase Robert Frost,  I would hope the legal profession in Alberta chooses to take the road less travelled, as that road will most likely make all the difference.

This issue also affords me a moment to say, “Thank-you” to the CBA and to the people who help put together Law Matters each issue.  Beginning as a volunteer, I first contributed an article to Law Matters in the spring of 2008, some nine years ago, and eventually, was humbled to be asked to Chair the Editorial Committee for Law Matters.  This role is now coming to an end for me, to make way for an incredibly bright young lawyer, Joshua Sealy-Harrington who will be taking over as Editor shortly later this year.

My past nine years as a part of Law Matters, and my past few years as Editor, have been amongst the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of my 31 years as a lawyer, and I am truly grateful to all of the Board Members, CBA staff members and contributors who have helped make this an incredibly positive experience, and in particular, a major thank-you to Lee-Anne Wright – the glue holding everything together.  Her effort and assistance has been phenomenal.

So.  Thanks again for a great ride, and for, I’m sure, more and better things to come!

Robert G. Harvie, QC
July 29, 2017