The fact that Professor Alan Cairns was on the faculty of UBC’s Political Science Department was one of the principal reasons that I came to Vancouver and UBC to do my M.A. And so it is with sadness that I join others in reporting his passing on August 27, 2018 (b. 1930).
You may hear his address to the 1998 UBC Convocation on the occasion on which an honorary degree was conferred upon him. His remarks begin at about the 16 minutes, 40 seconds mark. Needless to say, his remarks lasted longer than the requested “2 to 4 minutes”; he took 10 minutes, still substantially less than the 50 minutes which he considered his due!
One of my fond recollections of Professor Cairns (and he would always be that to me —never Alan!) were his regular quotations of baseball great, Yogi Berra.
My personal favourite of all of his written work is “The Judicial Committee and its Critics” (one of his essays in Constitution, Government and Society in Canada).
I will remember Professor Cairns as being (like other mentors of mine, Professor Akira Ichikawa of the University of Lethbridge and Professor Ken Carty of UBC), a gentle humanist.
This account by Michael Valpy is a good summary of Professor Cairns’ varied life and work.