904 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2019
practice of his chosen profession. He was born in New Westminster in 1943
but at an early age moved to Burnaby and proudly considered himself a Burnaby
product. His hardworking and industrious parents raised the family at a
time and in a neighbourhood where everyone had to make their own way by
their own devices. In that neighbourhood, he learned valuable lessons that
set the stage for his future career and personal life. It was there that Craig also
established friendships that lasted his lifetime, including with many equally
accomplished Lower Mainland professionals and businesspeople.
Craig earned his LL.B. from UBC in 1967 and his LL.M. from Southern
Methodist University in Dallas, Texas in 1968. At the conclusion of his postgraduate
studies, he returned to the Lower Mainland to start his law career
by articling at Guild Yule. Following articles, he practised as an associate at
McLeod & Small for two years before embarking on the most significant
development in his career: joining the tax boutique of Thorsteinsson,
Mitchell, Little, O’Keefe & Davidson (which later became Thorsteinssons
LLP Tax Lawyers) in 1971.
Although Craig’s tax law career is generally identified with
Thorsteinssons, from 1974 to 1989 his sense of entrepreneurialism and independence
saw him join fellow tax lawyer David Birnie to form their own
Vancouver-based tax boutique, Birnie, Sturrock & Company (later Birnie,
Sturrock & Bowden). Craig’s absence from Thorsteinssons turned out to be
temporary and in 1989 he was enthusiastically welcomed back to the
Thorsteinssons family and practised there until his passing on May 12, 2019.
Tax law evolved greatly over the nearly five decades Craig practised law.
At the start of his career, tax law was an exercise in literal statutory interpretation
without undue regard for whether that interpretation yielded a
subjectively fair outcome. This approach to tax law was one that Craig
believed was appropriate and correct. He sided with jurists who argued
“there is no morality in a taxing statute”.
This point of view sometimes led to animated commentary about the
decaying state of the tax system when, in the late 1980s and early 1990s,
some courts rejected plain language interpretation in favor of a more interventionist
approach. Later in the 1990s, this approach was, at least for a
time, beaten back by a series of Supreme Court of Canada decisions (including
one argued successfully by Craig).
Craig argued before the Supreme Court of Canada a disproportionate
number of times when one considers the relative dearth of tax cases heard
by that court. Moreover, Craig’s client list was not typically made up of the
large corporate interests with the deep pockets necessary to fund the significant
legal fees required to take a case through the long process to the top