McKillop, Duncan Lovell

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McKillop, Duncan Lovell

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Duncan Lovell McKillop was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on July 5, 1935. His father was an accountant and his mother a homemaker. McKillop was primarily raised in Calgary, attending Crescent Heights High School and graduating in 1953. McKillop then began the combined arts and law program in 1954 at the Calgary campus of the University of Alberta before moving to Edmonton for law school. He subsequently earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1957 and graduated from law in 1960. McKillop was an editor for the Alberta Law Review while a third-year law student. After graduation, McKillop articled to Mac Jones at the Chambers, Might, Saucier, Peacock, Jones and Black firm (now Bennett Jones). He remained with the firm, practicing in wills and estates, until 1967. McKillop left to open his own office, practicing with Mary Hetherington, later of the Alberta Court of Appeal, and Sandy Park, who became a Queen’s Bench judge. After 1972, McKillop was primarily a sole practitioner and, in 1978, opened a branch office in Turner Valley, Alberta, moving his practice there a year later but continuing to live in Calgary.

Until the 1980s, McKillop was primarily a solicitor, with his practice consisting of residential and commercial real estate, wills and estates, and small corporations work, but he then took up litigation. One of McKillop’s more unusual pieces of litigation was representing himself as the plaintiff after a 1982 motor vehicle accident in Montana left him seriously injured. McKillop became a member of the bar of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana to pursue the litigation before successfully settling the case. McKillop also acted for James Keegstra, the Eckville, Alberta high school teacher, former mayor and Holocaust denier, who was charged under the hate crime provisions of the Criminal Code for teaching his students about a world-wide Jewish conspiracy. McKillop was an acquaintance of Keegstra’s lawyer, Doug Christie, and also familiar with constitutional law as head of the Canadian Bar Association’s Alberta section on the subject. McKillop was hired to undertake an application to declare the hate crime provisions of the Criminal Code unconstitutional under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and subsequently argued Keegstra’s successful appeal of his conviction on the same grounds. McKillop did not participate in the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. He appeared several times at that court, including successfully representing Christie in a defamation case. McKillop first retired in 1991 but returned to the active list intermittently until fully retiring in 2000.

Outside of the law, McKillop was heavily involved in politics, starting in university as a Young Conservative along with contemporaries such as Joe Clark, later Prime Minister of Canada. McKillop ran unsuccessfully as a Progressive Conservative in the 1963 provincial election in the riding of Calgary Queen’s Park. In 1965, he ran for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, losing to Peter Lougheed. McKillop entered the nomination race in the federal riding of Calgary West in 1978 but was beaten by Jim Hawkes. Although not successful as a candidate, McKillop remained heavily involved with both the provincial and federal conservative parties as a fundraiser and campaign worker. McKillop was also active in the community in several capacities, including serving as president of the Ranchmen’s Club in Calgary, and belonged to several fraternal organizations. He is a long-serving board member of the Legal Archives Society of Alberta.


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