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St. Albertan appointed Alberta chief justice

Davidson appointed to highest position on province’s superior court
New King's Bench chief justice Kent Davidson.

Alberta’s new chief justice is a St. Albert resident with a long history of public service in the city, including two terms as city councillor and a bid as mayor.

Justice Kent Davidson was appointed to the highest position on the province’s superior trial court, the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, on June 23. Provincial chief justices are granted the position by Canada’s Governor General, who is given direction from federal cabinet and the prime minister. The justices lead and administer King’s Bench in their respective provinces.

“I think my role is to make sure that the judiciary remains independent, and that people feel that they're being treated fairly,” Davidson said.

Much of Davidson’s work will be administrative, such as organizing schedules for justices. However, the chief justice also ensures policies and processes are in place for the public to get a fair hearing.

“It is a very challenging role, but I'm hoping that I can improve the administration of justice in the province, even incrementally,” he said. “If I do that, [it will have been a very important career.”]

Davidson grew up in Flin Flon, Man., and moved to Alberta to attend the University of Alberta, where he completed a bachelor of arts degree and a bachelor of laws degree. He was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1983.

Most of the students in his high school graduating class didn’t go to Alberta. “To me, it was something different,” he said. “It was a place to make one’s own way without having too many of your older influences.”

He moved to St. Albert in 1986, when he was a young lawyer practising in downtown Edmonton.

“It's a great community,” he said. “People are interested in the community, and people love their community.”

That sense of civic duty inspired Davidson to run for St. Albert city council, winning a seat in 1992 and again in 1998.

“It is very fulfilling and rewarding to see the work that you did all those years ago come to fruition as the city grows,” he said.

A project he remembers distinctly from his time on council was the continued development of Red Willow Park, which runs from the centre of St. Albert along the Sturgeon River to the northeast edge of town. The goal was to give the city “a park-like feel” he said.

Davidson also ran for mayor in the mid-90s but lost to Anita Ratchinsky.

“She was a terrific mayor,” he said. “I have no regrets about it. I got to meet thousands of St. Albertans.”

Before his 2019 appointment as a Court of Kings Bench justice, Davidson worked in construction litigation, commercial litigation, real estate litigation, labour and employment law, public inquiries, arbitration, mediation, insolvency, criminal law and personal injury.

He was especially drawn to labour relations work.

“It's pretty real,” he said. “You’re talking about peoples’ lives … Work is really important for people. They identify themselves from their careers … I enjoyed the human element.”

Besides his role in the city’s leadership, Davidson has had a hand in numerous civic organizations in the city.

He was a founding director and18-year member of the St. Albert Rotary Club. He was founding director of St. Albert Victim Services, and a founding member and president of the St Albert Community Foundation.

He also coached hockey, baseball and ringette in St. Albert, and sat on numerous boards and committees.

Davidson replaces Justice Mary Moreau, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada last year.  

About the Author: Riley Tjosvold

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