Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Justice Kent Davidson has small town roots and deeply values family, public service and community.
The Flin Flon-born Edmonton judge — one of four children, a father of four and a grandfather of six — has had a career of significant legal cases, marked by forays into politics, philanthropy, management and volunteerism.
“I believe that public service is a fundamental obligation of those who chose a career in law,” says Justice Davidson. “Enhancing the quality of life for others in our communities should be an important career goal for all lawyers.”
The St. Albert resident, who was appointed to QB on May 22, 2019, is the third of four sons raised by a pharmacist and a piano teacher in Flin Flon, a mining town in northern Manitoba surrounded by great natural beauty. After high school, he moved to Edmonton to attend the University of Alberta, receiving a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in 1979 and then earning an LLB in 1982.
Justice Davidson was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1983 after completing his articles of clerkship at Lucas, Edwards & Bishop. He remained at the firm, through various name changes, until 2001, when he moved to join Miller Thomson LLP, one of Canada’s largest national law firms. In 2014, he was elected the firm’s national chair, in which capacity he served until his appointment.
During his 36-year career as a lawyer, Justice Davidson worked in many areas of the law, including construction litigation, commercial litigation, real estate litigation, labour and employment law, public inquiries, arbitration, mediation, insolvency, criminal law and personal injury.
He was active in the Canadian Bar Association. He was named Queen’s Counsel in 2008.
Justice Davidson also served two terms as a city councillor in St. Albert, from 1992 to 1995 and from 1998 to 2001. In the spirit of full disclosure, the one-term gap was the result of his unsuccessful bid to become mayor of one of Alberta’s oldest and largest communities.
He has been married to Cari for 39 years. They have a son and three daughters. Justice Davidson was actively involved in coaching and volunteering in local minor sports, was a charter member and director of the Rotary Club of St. Albert and incorporated the St. Albert Community Foundation, of which he was president for many years prior to his appointment.
The Alberta jurist believes his upbringing and work and community life experiences has provided him insight into the diversity of Canadians.
“My formative years were spent in a remote northern community comprised of citizens from diverse backgrounds. Our friendships and associations tended to transcend ethnicity and socio-economic status,” he says. “We had only each other.”
Justice Davidson has long been interested in Canada and its people.
“When I entered university, I wanted to better understand the cultural and social mosaic which has defined our country,” he says, adding he majored in Canadian history with sociology as a minor for his undergraduate degree, enjoying courses centering on culture and ethnicity.
Justice Davidson says being active in the community and public life enabled him to meet citizens from a variety of personal circumstances.
“I have come to appreciate that there are many lenses through which the problems of the world must be viewed,” he says.
Justice Davidson knows he has been fortunate to have the start in life which he has had, but he has crossed paths with, worked with and helped many less fortunate. He also understands that respect for the law requires the law to be relatable to those it serves.
“Justice must never be seen as the preserve of the privileged,” he says. “To the extent that access to justice is functionally impeded, the law will fail to evolve. And to the extent that the judicial system loses its connectivity to ordinary citizens, it risks irrelevance.”
Justice Davidson has been a proud resident of St. Albert for 35 years and maintains a cottage at Big Island Lake on the great Northern Shield.