|Dates of Founding and/or Dissolution: |
Alberta Justice began when The Alberta Act, (R. S. Chapter 3, 1906), established the province on September 1, 1905. In a proviso that existed in the federal statute, the post of the Attorney General that existed in the North West Territories was continued in the new province. This department was officially created by Alberta legislation in 1906.
From the inception of the Ministry, the Attorney General has been concerned with the legal aspects of the government and all matters in connection with the administration of justice in the Province. In 1906 The Attorney General Act, (S. A. Chapter 6, 1906) repealed and replaced the Territorial legislation, The Attorney General Ordinance (C.O. Chapter 6, 1898). The function of the Attorney General did not change in the new government. The new enabling legislation varied only in that the powers and duties of the Attorney General were detailed as to the conduct of matters.
Under the 1906 Act, the duties of the Attorney General concerned the supervision of the administration of a number of laws and the Provincial Courts. The minister holding this position would serve as legal advisor to the Lieutenant Governor, proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, and department heads. The Attorney General was the legal member of the Executive Council. The Attorney General was charged with the regulation and conduct of litigation for or against the Crown or any public department. Another function conducted by the Attorney General was the examination of papers in connection with the admission and discharge of lunatics to and from asylums. The Attorney General's Department functioned to appoint and advise Sheriffs, Registrars. Judicial Officers, Justices of the Peace, Coroners, Notaries Public and Commissioners for taking Affidavits.
The department's functional responsibility has evolved over time. This has influenced the department's administrative and organizational structure. Many of the initial functions continued in 1906 still existed within the department today. As the number of functions the department was charged with increased, new branches and divisions were formed.
In 1913 the Attorney General became responsible for the administration of the Coroners Act (S.A. Chapter 15, 1906). The function performed by this office was to conduct inquests to investigate cases of death where the cause or the responsibility is uncertain. The name changed from Chief Coroner to Chief Medical Examiner with the proclamation of The Fatality Inquires Act in 1977.
The Attorney General began administrating Estates when the Insanity Act, 1907 was amended. The Act made the Attorney General the guardian of the estates of insane persons. In 1917 the Attorney General became responsible for the administration of estates of infants. This function developed into the Estates Branch in 1936. In 1949 the Public Trustee took over the branch.
Since 1905 a Legislative Counsel has held the responsibility for drafting government bills, regulations and Orders in Council. The Office also works with the Queen's Printer to make the law of Alberta available to the public.
The Succession Duty Act (S.A. Chapter 12, 1914) became the responsibility of the Department of the Attorney General in 1921. This statute was administered by the Succession Duties Branch. This branch ceased to exist provincially when the Federal Government took over the function in 1947.
The Debt Adjustment Act (S.A. Chapter 9, 1923) was proclaimed in 1923. The Attorney General had jurisdiction over Debt Adjustment until 1926 when the function was transferred to the Department of Agriculture. The function was transferred back to the Department of the Attorney General in 1931. In 1943 a Debt's Assistance Board was created with the proclamation of The Debtor's Assistance Act (S.A. Chapter 7, 1943). The Board was under the jurisdiction of Municipal Affair until it was transferred to the Ministry of the Attorney General in 1950. This Board continued to function under the direction of the Attorney General Department until after 1973. From here the Board was transferred to the Department of Consumer Affairs.
In 1929 the Attorney General added the function of securities control with the proclamation of the Security Fraud Prevention Act (S.A. Chapter 29,1929). In 1957 the function was delegated to the Alberta Securities Commission which had become part of the Department. The Alberta Securities Commission was transferred out of the Department in 1974 to the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
The Land Compensation Board was under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General until 1991. The primary function of the Land Compensation Board is quasi-judicial: to hear and decide on provincial expropriation disputes. The Land Compensation Board deals with all provincial property expropriation initiated by the Crown through ministers departments and agencies and by all urban and rural municipal bodies. After 1991 The Board was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.
The control of gaming has been a function in the Department since 1970. Gaming in the Province of Alberta operates under the Criminal Code of Canada. The Alberta Gaming Commission was established in 1981. In 1991, the Gaming Control Branch and the Alberta Gaming Commission were transferred out of the Department of the Attorney General to the jurisdiction of the Minister of Public Works, Supply and Services.
The Public Utilities Board Act was administered by the Attorney General from 1974 until 1988. The Board was charged with balancing the interests of the consuming public and utilities companies. The Board was transferred to the jurisdiction of Municipal Affairs and then to the Department of Energy.
In the 1906 Act the Attorney General was entrusted with the powers and charged with the duties which were consisted with those of the Attorney General and Solicitor General of England that were applicable in the Province of Alberta. The functions related to the Solicitor General were transferred out of the Attorney General to create the Department of the Solicitor General in 1973. The functions transferred related to law enforcement, corrections, and probation. Later the function of controlling motor vehicles was added to the department. On December 15, 1992 the Solicitor General was merged with the Attorney General to form the Department of Justice. In 2001, The Department of the Solicitor General was once again established with taking charge of functional responsibilities from Justice.
The Government Organization Act (S.A. Chapter G 8.5, 1994) repealed and replaced both The Department of the Attorney General Act and The Department of the Solicitor General Act. Further, the Act amalgamated the Department of the Attorney General and the Department of the Solicitor General to create the Department of Alberta Justice. The Minister of Justice is also the Attorney General for the Province of Alberta.
In 1993 Alberta Registries was created to consolidate licensing and registry function from five separate government departments. Divisions transferred from the Department of Justice were Motor Vehicles, Land Titles and Corporate Services.
A century later the Alberta Justice continues to have functional divisions related to Civil Law, Corporate Services, Correctional Services, Court Services, Criminal Justice and Public Security. The Legislative Counsel, Provincial Medical Examiners and the Public Trustee are still under the jurisdiction of Alberta Justice.
Predecessor and Successor Bodies:
The Predecessor to the Attorney General of Alberta was the Attorney General of the North West Territories.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General reports to the Legislative Assembly and is a member of Executive Council.
Although courts in the province are not part of the Government of Alberta, the Alberta legislature has passed numerous acts and regulations surrounding the provision of administrative support to the judicial system, a function of the ministry since 1905 which is currently carried out by its Court Services Division.
Staff members at the courts have included clerks and deputy clerks, who provide recordkeeping and scheduling services. From 1905 to 1996, sheriffs were appointed to enforce court orders as well as undertake seizures, repossessions, and evictions. In 1996, sheriff’s offices were restructured to create an Office of the Sheriff-Civil Enforcement Office within the Court Services Division. Authorized civil enforcement agencies took over the function of seizures, repossessions, evictions and enforcement of court orders, with the Civil Enforcement Office providing courtroom security as well as training and regulation of civil enforcement agencies.
There are three levels within Alberta’s judicial system. The entry level is the Provincial Court of Alberta, formed in 1971 to provide a formal structure for the provincial judges and magistrates who had previously worked as individuals exercising judicial powers. It is divided into civil, criminal, family youth divisions. Its justices are appointed through the Provincial Court Act. At the next level, Alberta’s superior court is known as the Court of Queen’s Bench, formed in 1979 by a merger of the District Court of Alberta and the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Alberta. The highest level is the Court of Appeal of Alberta, which was known prior to 1979 as the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Alberta and whose judgments can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Judges for the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Court of Appeal of Alberta are appointed by the federal government.
The province is divided into judicial districts, geographic areas where hearings of the Provincial Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench are held. The Alberta Court of Appeal sits in Edmonton and Calgary and hears cases from all judicial districts.
The Department had a hierarchical organizational structure. The Attorney General headed the department with the assistance of the Deputy Minister. Major points of re-organization for the Department were 1972 and 1994. In 1994 the Minister of Alberta Justice would be both the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General for the Province of Alberta.
Names of the Corporate bodies:
In 1992 the Department of the Attorney General became the Department of Justice. In 1994 the same entity became known as Alberta Justice.
Names of Chief Officers:
Attorneys General for the Province of Alberta
Charles W. Cross, 1905-1910
Charles R. Mitchell, 1910-1912
Charles W. Cross, 1912-1918
John R. Boyle, 1918-1921
John E. Brownlee, 1921-1926
John F. Lymburn, 1926-1935
John W. Hugill, 1935-1937
William Aberhart, 1937-1943
Joseph Lucien P. Maynard, 1943-1955
Ernest C. Manning, 1955-1968
Edgar H. Gerhart, 1968-1971
Clarence M. Leitch, 1971-1975
James L. Foster, 1975-1979
Neil S. Crawford, 1979-1986
James D. Horsman, 1986-1988
Kenneth L. Rostad, 1988-1994
Brian J. Evans, 1994-1997
Jonathan N. Havelock, 1997-1999
David Hancock, 1999-2004
Ron Stevens, 2004-2008
Alison Redford, 2008-2011
Verlyn Olson, 2011-2012
Jonathan Denis, 2012-