New judge comes from military background

With stops in Cyprus, Afghanistan and Sudan, you could say Randall Callan has taken one of the more unusual routes to becoming a new provincial court judge in Prince George.

The stamps on Callan's passport can be explained by the fact that after a dozen years of private practice in Victoria, he decided in 1996 to revisit a life long passion and enlist in the Canadian Forces.

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It all dates back to 1972, when Callan, who dons the robes in Prince George this spring, had enrolled in the Canadian Forces regular officer training plan in 1972 and became a logistics officer in 1975.

After a tour at CFB Uplands in Ottawa, which included providing logistics support to the 1976 Montreal Olympics, he was promoted to Captain and posted to the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) as the Quartermaster.

Upon returning to Canada after a six-month peacekeeping tour in Cyprus, Callan was accepted into law school at the University of Manitoba.

He was called to the bar of British Columbia in 1983 and went into private practice in Victoria, but at the same time kept at least a toe in the military by becoming a legal officer in the Force's judge advocate general reserve a year later.

A dozen years later, Callan rejoined the regular forces at the rank of Major and was posted to Ottawa.

"I really enjoyed practicing military law so I eventually got back into the regular forces and started doing it full time," Callan said Friday in a telephone interview.

"There are a number of different ways of you can practice law and a whole scope of areas you can practice but I really enjoyed what I was doing and in some ways I hope I made a difference."

Callan soon found himself assigned as the legal representative for the federal government and the Canadian Forces before the Somalia Commission of Inquiry following the 1993 beating death of a Somali teenager at the hands of two Canadian soldiers.

One of the Commission's more important upshots in Callan's opinion was an update of the National Defence Act so it more closely complied to the Charter of Rights of Freedoms

From there, Callan joined a pool of lawyers who provided defence counsel at courts martial.

It meant plenty of travelling.

"I mean in one week, I could be defending someone at the base in Esquimalt and the next week I could be in Skopje, Macedonia," Callan said. "The venues kept shifting because, of course, when the Canadian Forces deploys, they take their laws with them as prescribed under the National Defence Act."

Post 9-11, Callan was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, where he provided advice to the commander on issues of military law and international law.

It was an intense experience for Callan in part because he dealt with legal issues that didn't normally come up back in Canada, and because he and his fellow lawyers had to work quickly.

"You had to know your stuff," Callan said.

The next chapter in Callan's career begins April 2. Married with two grown children, the 58 year old hopes to do plenty of hiking in the area when he's not working and has recently taken up archery.

"I've already checked the Internet for archery stores in Prince George and archery ranges, so I'm looking forward to that," Callan said.

Callan was one of two named to the bench in Prince George. Victor Galbraith, previously a Crown counsel in Quesnel, began work on Monday.

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