Brian R.D. Smith, OBC, QC

Class of 1960

Brian Smith was apparently the first of thirty-three Attorneys General of British Columbia to attempt to delineate publicly the duties of his office. In a paper delivered as the First Annual Hugh Allan MacLean Lecture at the University of Victoria on February 24, 1987 [reproduced in (1988) 46 The Advocate, pp. 255-2621, he reaffirmed the principle that the exercise of the prosecutorial discretion should not be influenced by orders from a Prime Minister, the Cabinet, or anybody else. But that, according to Brian Smith, does not mean that the Attorney General should be politically neutral in the legislature or that he should refrain from partisan debate. That is because in Canada, unlike the United Kingdom, the Attorney General is a member of the Cabinet and must answer for the government of the day on all matters relating to the administration of justice in the province. He held the view that the position of Attorney General must remain a political position, albeit with particular sensitivity to non-political responsibility.

Brian Smith also revived the practice of having the Attorney General appear personally in court, something which had not been seen in this province since Gordon Wismer resigned the office of Attorney General in 1952. Brian Smith appeared for the Crown in three criminal cases because issues of public policy were at stake and he was convinced that it was in the public interest that they be argued by the Attorney General...