On April 6, Canada lost a true champion of freedom.
That's the day Alan Hunter died.
You probably never heard of Alan, he wasn't a journalist or a TV personality or a politician.
He was a Calgary laywer -- and a darned good one. In fact, he was one of Canada's leading constitutional experts -- but more than that he was my friend.
Alan and I worked together during my days at the National Citizens Coalition, when the NCC actually mattered.
He was our lead lawyer in our never-ending legal battles against election gag laws, laws which denied every Canadian the right to free election speech.
For Alan, this wasn't just a legal job -- it was a crusade. He believed the protection of free expression was vitally important to any democratic society.
And for more than 20 years, he fought against gag laws with a ferocity that was a wonder to behold.
He was always confident of victory. He believed our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our British legal tradition would never allow gag laws to stand.
He was right -- for the most part.
Alan won countless cases against gag laws. He successfully convinced the courts to overturn a Trudeau gag law in 1983, a Murloney gag law twice - in 1993 and in 1996 --and a Chretien gag law in 2001.
Ulimtately, however, even Alan, with all his logic and all his eloquence, could not convince the Liberal-packed Supreme Court of Canada to defend free speech and hence the undemocratic gag law survives.
But win or lose, Alan was a remarkable man.
I am lucky and honoured to have known and worked with such a noble and great Canadian.