Forging Alberta's Constitutional Framework, Richard Connors and John M. Law, eds., and The Alberta Supreme Court at 100: History and Authority, Jonathan Swainger, Ed.

James W. Muir


In a recent issue I raised the question of whether Canada has developed a distinctive law of its own. With two recent publications it is possible to focus that question more narrowly and ask if there is such a thing as a distinctive Albertan law that has developed over the twentieth century. In the introduction to their book Forging Alberta's Constitutional Framework (Forging), Richard Connors and John Law declare that "Alberta has, in part, forged its own Constitution and its place within Canada's Constitution." This statement perfectly balances the issue: on the one hand, Alberta has its own Constitution that it has made itself; on the other hand, it exists as an entity within the wider Canadian constitutional framework. In his introduction to The Alberta Supreme Court at 100: History and Authority, Jonathan Swainger strikes a similar balance: "In those areas where the Court did act, the weight of evidence suggests that while some aspects of Alberta's jurisprudential path have been creative and forward looking, in others they were less inclined to strike out in new directions.... And if the Court's jurisprudence in a given area might appear tentative or tightly prescribed, in others we find indications of a distinctive "made in Alberta" flavour that did not necessarily tread expected paths."

Reading these books introduces us to many interesting parts of Alberta's legal past, but in the end these sometimes unique events do not lead us to conclude that there is much distinct about the law in Alberta, whether in its constitutional framework or in its courts.

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