Ian McKay’s expertise in defending those charged with a criminal offence is in high demand. Not only does his busy practice take him throughout Alberta but he has been retained on matters in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Further, he is amongst a select few criminal defence lawyers who has argued a case in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Ian McKay is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan where he was awarded a Bachelor of Commerce (Distinction) in Finance, and a Bachelor of Laws. He has been an instructor at the Trial Advocacy Course at University of Calgary Faculty of Law and he also lectures at the Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law in Kamloops, British Columbia. In addition, Mr. McKay is honoured to be one of two case reviewers in Alberta for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (“AIDWYC”). In this role, Mr. McKay is tasked with reviewing the case files of individuals convicted of murder to ascertain whether a potential wrongful conviction has occurred.
Ian McKay inherited his love for law from his father, Ian McKay, Q.C., a well-known defence lawyer in Regina. While in law school, he won the prestigious Chief Justice Brian Dickson award as the top advocate in Canada at the Gale Cup Moot competition in Toronto, Ontario. This victory foreshadowed the eventual success he would have as a top criminal defence lawyer.
Early in his career, Ian McKay worked as a litigation lawyer in both Regina and Calgary. While in Calgary, Ian McKay accepted a position as a litigation associate at a national law firm, Miller Thomson LLP, and later at one of the top construction law boutiques in Canada. From there, his love for criminal law led him to accept a position as a Crown Prosecutor in Calgary, Alberta. As a Crown Prosecutor, he was involved in prosecuting hundreds of matters ranging from mischief to major sexual assaults and murders. This experience exposed him to every possible scenario that could arise in a criminal prosecution and has been invaluable to him as a defence lawyer.
Ian McKay has been practicing exclusively as a criminal defence since he left the Crown Prosecutors office in 2006. He has defended many individuals charged with murder and almost every other charge in the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Mr. McKay does not limit his practice to the defence of those charged in Alberta. He has also represented clients charged with serious criminal offences in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Further, he has consulted on a matter where his client was charged in the State of Colorado.
Ian McKay has developed an expertise in the defence of complex criminal prosecutions. Whether it be arguing in the Supreme Court of Canada in the evolving area of electronic search limitations under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, litigating complex drug prosecutions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, or defending those charged with corporate crimes, Ian McKay has been sought out as to go to person for the defence of complex criminal defences.
Ian McKay has practiced with some of the top criminal lawyers in Canada. Prior to forming McKay Criminal Defence LLP, he practiced with the legendary C.D. Evans, Q.C. , Patrick C. Fagan, Q.C. and A. Clayton Rice, Q.C. at the firm Evans Fagan Rice McKay.
Ian McKay's Selected Cases
R v. A.D.
A.D. was charged with possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and simple possession under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act as well as possession of proceeds of crime under the Criminal Code of Canada after his car was searched during a traffic stop. The drugs alleged to be involved were Alprazolam, Marihuana and Cocaine. Mr. McKay was retained as counsel and the matter was set for trial. Prior to trial, Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg filed an extensive Charter notice alleging numerous violations of A.D.’s rights. The arguments included violations of A.D.’s right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, insufficient grounds for arrest, as well as a violation of A.D’s right to counsel. The Charter notice also alleged that the police officer who arrested A.D. was abusive in her conduct and violated his section 7 right to life, liberty and security of the person.
The matter proceeded to trial and the parties entered into a voir dire to hear evidence in relation to the Charter motion. After the testimony of the arresting officer, the parties had discussions and the matter was resolved. While the charges he was facing carried a potential for significant jail time, A.D. pled guilty to two counts of simple possession and received a fine.
R v C.D.
After an extensive police investigation involving numerous wiretaps, C.D. and a co-accused were charged with discharging a firearm with the intent to wound, maim or disfigure in relation to a drive-by shooting. The matter was set for a multi-week trial before a jury in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. Prior to trial, Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg had numerous meetings and discussions with Crown counsel. The matter was stayed the last business day before the trial was set to commence.
R v T.P.L.
T.P.L. was charged with second-degree murder after an incident that occurred in the early morning hours at a rural house party. Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg came onto the file after the preliminary inquiry and the matter was scheduled for trial.
In the months leading up to the trial, Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg sought further disclosure from the Crown and litigated two pre-trial motions. In terms of disclosure, the defence was able to obtain a number of important pieces of information in relation to the Crown’s star witness. This information was vital in destabilizing his credibility in cross-examination and casting doubt on what he said happened that night. The second pre-trial motion was an application to have a deceased eye witness’ prior statements introduced into evidence at trial. The version of events contained in this witness’ evidence was critical to the theory of the defence and was one of the only avenues available to corroborate what T.P.L. said happened. Both pre-trial motions were successful.
The trial was held before a judge and jury in superior court. It ran significantly longer than the parties anticipated and over the course of the trial, a number of unexpected legal issues arose. After the close of the Crown’s case, T.P.L. testified in her own defence. The case was left with the jury. After less than 24 hours of deliberation, the jury came back and T.P.L. was fully acquitted. She left court totally exonerated and was able to return home with her family.
R v C.D.
After an extensive police investigation involving numerous wiretaps, C.D. was charged with two counts of committing offences for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization over a period of almost a year and a half. The charges carried a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison each. The matter (which involved 4 other co-accused facing numerous counts of attempted murder) was set for a 6 week judge and jury trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Shortly before the proceedings were to commence, Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg were able to resolve the matter. A.B. pled guilty to a single count of drug trafficking and was able to put his criminal charges behind him.
R v A.B.
A.B. was charged with aggravated assault in relation to a jail fight. The complainant had serious injuries and the matter was scheduled for a multi-day trial. While the initial resolution offer from the Crown involved a guilty plea and jail time, after pre-trial negotiations and a defence disclosure request for internal jail records, the matter was stayed.