In his 86 years Emmett Hall has played a vital role - as a Supreme Court judge, royal commissioner, and elder statesman - in the transformation of Canada from a frontier society to a modern welfare state. He is known as the father of medicare. It was his Supreme Court judgment in 1975 that set the stage for negotiations on Indian land claims. His 1977 commission investigated the sensitive issue of rail transportation and small-town survival in western Canada. And he was the co-chairman of the 1968 Hall-Dennis report on education in Ontario.
Emmett Hall: Establishment Radical tells the story of the poor boy from Saskatchewan who made it to law school and graduated with John Diefenbaker in 1919. It contains fascinating material on many of Hall's legal cases, including his 1936 defence of the people brought to trial for the Regina Riot and his judgment on the Supreme Court appeal of Steven Truscott's murder conviction. Dennis Gruending not only brings to light the events of Emmett Hall's legal life, but probes behind these events for motivations and clues to the man's character and actions. This is a book about a populist judge turned elder statesman, a sometimes fond, sometimes cantankerous, patriarch who is widely admired but little known. Hall's incredible industry and his longevity, from the Prairies in frontier days to the present, provide the book with an immediate intensity and a rare historical sweep.