The Honourable Justice Marilyn Slawinsky’s Questionnaire
Under the new judicial appointment process announced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for such appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister of Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire could be made available to the public, should they be appointed to the bench.
Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable Marilyn Slawinsky.
Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment
PART 5 – LANGUAGE
Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.
Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
PART 6 – EDUCATION
Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained:
University of Manitoba – Juris Doctor obtained 1987 (attended 1985-1987)
University or North Dakota – first-year law (attended 1984-1985)
Brandon University – Bachelor of Science obtained 1984 (attended 1981-1984) – Major in Chemistry, double Minors in Math & Zoology
National Judicial Institute courses: Criminal Update Online courses, October 2016 & October 2015; New Judges Course, April 2016; New Judges Skills Training, November 2016; Indigenous Law Seminar (upcoming, February 2017); Evidence Workshop (upcoming July 2017).
Other judicial training: Bail Workshop with Justice Gary Trotter, December 2015; PPT Judgment Writing Course, June 2016; APJA education conferences, fall 2015 & 2016, spring 2016. Various “Learn at Lunch” sessions.
Mediation-related training: National Restorative Justice Conference (2014); ACLCA Advanced Collaborative Law Training (2010); ACLCA Advanced Collaborative Negotiation Training (2007); Interest-Based Negotiation Skills Training (Palliser Conflict Resolution, 2002); Collaborative Law Process Training (Palliser Conflict Resolution, 2002); Mediation of Family and Divorce Conflicts (LESA, 1995).
Government of Alberta training: Leaders Guild program (2013-2014); Alberta School of Business SEMDP – Strategic Finance Course (2014); Alberta School of Business MDP – Fundamentals of Managing Projects Course (2013); Occupational Health & Safety Certificate Program (2012-2013); Management Essentials Program (2012).
Board-related training: Subdivision & Development Appeal Board course (2011); Administrative Law course through the Alberta Foundation of Administrative Justice (2010); Principles of Assessment course for Assessment Review Board members (2010).
Other training: Various Spanish-language courses (2016); Athabasca University – Financial Accounting & Microsoft Office courses (2008); numerous courses, seminars & workshops in many different areas, including French-language courses, leadership, conflict management, advanced collaborative training, advanced mediation, family law, estates, taxation, personal injury, business organizations (1987-present).
Honours and Awards:
Evidence Award – University of Manitoba School of Law
Governor General’s Entrance Scholarship – Brandon University
Numerous/multiple awards in high school in areas of academic excellence, general proficiency, math, chemistry, physics, accounting, and art
PART 7 – PROFESSIONAL AND EMPLOYMENT HISTORY
Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.
Legal Work Experience:
Judge, Provincial Court of Alberta – September 3, 2015 to present. Assigned to Calgary Criminal Division and sit primarily in the adult criminal court. Have also occasionally presided over family law matters.
Public Complaint Director & Legal Counsel (interim) – Calgary Police Commission: February 2015-August 2015. Fulfillment of Public Complaint Director duties pursuant to the Police Act and general legal counsel responsibilities, including liaising between complainants, the Commission, the Calgary Police Service and Chief of Police as appropriate, reviewing and reporting on complaints investigations and making recommendations to the Commission. Focus on administrative law and issues of procedural fairness.
Resolution and Court Administration Services – Alberta Justice & Solicitor General – May 2012-January 2015
Director, Dispute Resolution Services (Dec. 2013-Jan. 2015) – Leadership of the division responsible for the development, improvement and province-wide delivery of dispute resolution services offered by Alberta Justice, including Provincial Court Civil Claims Mediation, Family Mediation, Child Support Resolution Project, Dispute Resolution Officer Program, Child Protection and Intervention Mediation, and Brief Conflict Intervention, with a resource allocation of almost $4 million to lead approximately 30 managers and staff, and over 300 province-wide roster mediators. Not classified as a legal counsel position, but did legal work in this role.
Manager, Family Justice Services and Civil Mediation Programs (May 2012-Dec. 2013) – Management, administration and delivery of multiple Regional Family Justice Programs, the Family Law Information Centre and the Provincial Court Civil Mediation Program in the Central Alberta area. Leadership and supervision of 7 staff including family court counsellors, judicial clerks and administrative supports and program direction to the regional family mediation roster and the Red Deer/Wetaskiwin civil mediation roster. Not classified as a legal counsel position, but did legal work in this role.
Lawyer, Slawinsky Law Office/Slawinsky Friesen Barristers & Solicitors (1991-2012). Practicing primarily in family law, wills and estates, estate litigation, personal injury, and general civil areas. Extensive litigation experience, primarily in the Court of Queen’s Bench, including the conduct of trials as lead counsel in complex personal injury, family/divorce and estate litigation matters ranging from one day to three weeks, preparation and conduct of regular and special chambers applications and viva voce hearings, and management of desk divorces and probate applications. Extensive mediation and collaborative law experience since 1996, assisting and facilitating parties in the negotiation and resolution of their family law disputes, including the division and restructuring of complex business and financial arrangements involving multiple corporations and multi-million dollar operations.
Articling Student & Associate Lawyer, Vanden Brink & Wilson, Barristers & Solicitors (1987-1991). Practicing general civil areas of law including family law, wills and estates, personal injury, real estate and corporate/commercial.
Non-Legal Work Experience:
City of Red Deer – July 2016-September 3, 2016. At the time of my appointment to the Provincial Court, I had just started a new permanent position as the Policing Manager for the City of Red Deer, responsible for the leadership of approximately 100 municipal employees supporting the RCMP personnel supplying policing services for the city. Department operating budget of approximately $10 million.
Board Experience with the Central Alberta Assessment Review Board and the Red Deer County Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, 2010-2012 (see “Community and Civic Activities” below for more details).
Other Professional Experience:
List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.
Alberta Provincial Judges Association – member since 2015, elected a Director in October 2016 for a two-year term
Central Alberta Bar Society – member from approx. 1988 to approx. 2013. Co-Treasurer for a two-year term in the mid-1990s
Calgary Bar Association – member since 2016
Canadian Bar Association – member since 2015
Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges – member since 2015
Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice – member since 201 5
International Association of Women Judges – member since 2016
2012 Chair of the Conflict Resolution Day planning committee in Red Deer
Steering Committee Member for the creation of the Association of Collaborative Lawyers of Central Alberta, and membership from approximately 2003-2015
Alberta Family Mediation Society – Member/Practicing Mediator from approximately 1996-2015, including Registered Family Mediator status from 2001-2012
Pro Bono Activities:
Past volunteer mediator for the Alberta Justice Family Mediation Program (multiple years)
Past volunteer lawyer with the Lawyer Referral program (multiple years) – providing free initial legal consultations
Past volunteer lawyer with the Golden Circle Senior Centre (multiple years) – providing free legal advice to seniors
Past mentor for the Law Society of Alberta
Past member of the Peer Support program with the Law Society of Alberta
Past volunteer at Law Day events in Red Deer
Teaching and Continuing Education:
List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a Law Faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, etc.)
Legal Education Society Refresher in Family Law (2013) – sessional chair – participated in the development and organization of the seminar topics and sessions for the conference, assembled a panel of experts for one session and acted as chair of that session
Legal Education Society of Alberta – prepared and co-presented a seminar on drafting separation agreements (approx. 2007)
Law Society of Alberta Bar Admission course – delivered a portion of the negotiations course (approx. late 90s)
Community and Civic Activities:
List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.
Past Board member – Central Alberta Regional Assessment Review Board (2010-2012) hearing appeals and preparing decisions for property tax assessments from 24 Central Alberta municipalities, including participation on Composite Assessment Review Board proceedings. Acquired working knowledge of municipal government act and regulations relating to assessments and taxation.
Past Board member – Red Deer County Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (2010-2012) hearing subdivision and development appeals arising from decisions made by Red Deer County council. Acquired working knowledge of municipal development plans, land use bylaws and related municipal government act provisions.
Past Board member – Red Deer Community Information and Referral Society (approx. 1989/90) – previous umbrella organization for the suicide prevention program.
2012 – Chair of the Red Deer Conflict Resolution Day planning committee, organizing and delivering an event in the community to bring awareness to alternative conflict resolution options.
Previous sponsor of several families through the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program of the Women’s Outreach Society.
Volunteered notarial services to over 100 members of the Red Deer Royals Marching Show Band in 2009 and 2011 to facilitate travel for the band’s international tours.
PART 11 – THE ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY IN CANADA’S LEGAL SYSTEM
The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada's legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.
1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?
I believe that the most significant contribution I have made and continue to make to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada is exercising my ability to listen with compassion and empathy in order to strive for fairness in resolving disputes. In the course of my career and training, I think the strongest skill I have developed is the ability to listen effectively. I learned a long time ago that one can either listen to respond, or listen to understand, and I have made a conscious and concerted effort to listen in order to understand. To me, this means a number of things.
First and foremost, it means treating everyone with dignity, respect, patience and understanding. No matter what a person’s background or upbringing is, no matter how uneducated they may be, no matter how limited their means are, and no matter what brings that person before the courts, everyone deserves respect and civility. I make it a point in my courtroom to address everyone as Sir, or Madam, or Mr. or Mrs., and I focus on listening not only to what they are actually saying, but also to the underlying message that usually comes with their comments. I credit my mediation training with giving me the skills to pick out what the issues really are when someone is venting, voicing frustration or having difficulty communicating. I also try at all times to be patient and to understand what is driving the conflict, situation or dilemma before me.
As we all know, justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done. In my view there is no greater damage done to the confidence of the public in our justice system than to have a decision-maker be seen to be ill-tempered, impatient or unreasonable. It takes little effort to be cordial and to allow people the opportunity to be heard – and to feel like they have been heard. This certainly was my experience in private practice as well, where I discovered early on that as long as people felt that their issues were received, their concerns were heard, and they were treated fairly, they could live with the ultimate result. In my mediation training and practice, I also witnessed firsthand the accuracy of the view that if people are involved in crafting solutions, and are made the architects of their own outcomes, they are far more likely to be invested in the resolution and carry out its terms.
Second, it means getting to the root of the issue. On the surface, conflict often looks messy, distasteful and disorganized. However, if one takes the time to dig a little deeper, ask a few more questions, and gather a little bit more information, confusion and chaos often become clear. I am constantly amazed at how simple many things become when you take the time to ask a few questions and gain a better understanding of the issue before jumping to a conclusion or solution.
Third, it means being judicious without being judgmental. One can never know the constellation of factors that brings a person before the justice system, and imposing unrealistic expectations on people is an easy trap to fall into. As a child, I naively thought that all people had the same type of upbringing as I did, and that consequently they had the same morals, values, and views. Working with the public in my legal practice radically changed that perspective for me, and sitting as a judge in the criminal court has completely wiped out whatever traces of those early views still existed. I have had a very fortunate life, but many in society have not been so lucky. It is incumbent upon us all to measure peoples’ behavior against their own circumstances and not our own, and to recognize and accept the unique differences that make them who they are. It is also imperative in my view for the long term betterment of society that we strive to improve circumstances where possible, rather than simply penalize and punish, in order to achieve the goal of a just, peaceful and safe society.
Last, it means being responsible, decisive and fair. Without listening effectively, it is difficult if not impossible to make appropriate decisions that are fair to the litigants and that are defensible. Justice system participants are entitled to be heard, treated fairly, and to have an outcome that they can understand. While I am normally a proactive and decisive person by nature in any event, I find that making decisions and accepting responsibility for them are far easier when I turn my entire attention to the issue and seek to understand it fully before determining a resolution.
2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?
I believe one of the most important things that has given me insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians is the fact that I have spent most of my career in one way or another dealing directly with everyday citizens seeking resolution of everyday problems. I believe that this has given me valuable awareness into the reality that every person is unique in perspective and opinion, and everyone possesses unique value systems and life priorities.
In particular, family breakdown, crime, personal injuries and death cross all boundaries and touch everyone regardless of social or economic status. I have dealt with people who were destitute, homeless or suffering from addictions. I have also worked with people who had more money than they could spend in their lifetime. I have counselled, advised, mediated or adjudicated in situations where people had physical disabilities, serious mental health issues, or minimal education. Others had advanced university degrees or impressive careers. I have encountered people from all cultures and corners of the world, and have dealt with immigrants with little to no understanding of the English language. We frequently work with interpreters in the criminal courts, and I have had accused before me who have required translations from many languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Russian, Tagalog, Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi. Invariably, these interactions raise not only language issues, but cultural differences that must be understood and reconciled in the context of the Canadian criminal law and Canadian societal values to determine a fit sentence for a particular offender. In the family law context, families from different cultures often display significant differences in parenting styles and family values, which must be understood and respected to the extent possible while still ensuring that vulnerable people are still properly protected.
I also deal daily with Indigenous Canadians who commit a wide range of crimes, suffer from significant addiction issues, and have suffered historical trauma and the legacy of the residential school system. Decision-making in these challenging scenarios involves a delicate balancing of enforcing rights and responsibilities while trying to craft creative and effective resolutions that have longer term benefits to try and break the unfortunate cycles that often exist.
I have also had many clients who were not always accepted in “mainstream” society and who were often subjected to discriminatory and harmful treatment. I have represented gays, lesbians and bisexuals and have interacted with transgender individuals. I have had clients from all sorts of cultures and ethnicities, from all levels of social status. Not only did I consider every one of these people equal under the law and deserving of equal representation and protection, but I also viewed them as equals in every sense. In my view, they just had a different series of life events and circumstances that made them unique individuals to me, just as I was unique to them.
From my years of dealing with people from all cultures and backgrounds, I have recognized that we need to have the freedom to allow people to make their own choices within the boundaries of the law, even if we would not make the same choices. We need to understand that diversity is desirable because it challenges our thinking and our own value systems and perspectives. Exposure to and acceptance of diversity opens our minds to the possibilities of other approaches. With very few exceptions, I believe everyone has something positive to contribute or to develop with in themselves, and our focus should be on drawing out and enhancing those positives.
This is especially true in the context of the justice system, which is more often than not an intimidating, foreign and incomprehensible system to most participants. We see increasing numbers of self-represented litigants, especially in the civil and family courts, and this presents unique challenges to those of us who work within the system and are familiar with it. I believe it is our responsibility to see things from the perspective of the ordinary Canadian seeking access to justice, and to do what is necessary to make the system more inclusive, accessible and comprehensible to those who need its services or protection. This is a fundamental shift from the traditional operation of our legal system, but one that in my view is imperative to gain and maintain confidence in the system from all members of society.
3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.
The appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy is a complex and multifaceted one. It is complex because the role contains a core of important responsibilities that include resolving disputes, interpreting and enforcing the law, and upholding and ensuring constitutional rights and freedoms for the benefit and protection of all citizens.
It is multifaceted, because layered over this core of responsibilities are the obligations and expectations placed on a judge regarding the manner in which she carries out those responsibilities. This includes the obligations of a judge to be impartial, objective, independent, and fair, and the expectations that a judge should at all times be empathetic, compassionate, unbiased and open-minded. Ultimately, I believe that this complex and multifaceted role can be reduced to a single word: courageous.
A judge must have the courage to make difficult decisions when the parties are unable to reach agreement of their disputes: when victims, families and society require intervention, redress or restitution for wrongs committed; when perpetrators require deterrence of their behaviours; and when citizens require protection of their rights and freedoms.
A judge must have the courage to set aside her own beliefs, public opinion, political pressures and outside influences to make decisions that are supported by the law and the evidence, even if they are unpopular. Concurrently, a judge must have the courage to become and remain non-political and non-vocal about her personal beliefs and opinions, and refrain from influencing matters which are properly the responsibility of government or others.
Yet a judge must also have the courage to defend the borders of society’s territory of constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms from improper infiltration or encroachment by the state. This includes the courage to interpret, protect and enforce the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that exist for the benefit of every person, and to apply them evenly, equitably and equally to all citizens regardless of their personal circumstances. This also includes the courage to define limits on the exercise of power by the state and to work in an independent but complementary fashion with government to balance the various legitimate needs and interests of government and its private citizens.
A judge must also have the courage to be humble. The judiciary is given the critical privilege and responsibility to sit in judgment of others, and a judge must recognize the weight of that responsibility and treat it with respect. This includes the ability to recognize any shortcomings in one’s own knowledge, actions and behaviours, and the willingness to remedy those shortcomings by seeking further education, assistance or input. While a judge must be decisive and confident, it is critical for a judge not to be arrogant.
Above all else, in my view a judge must have the courage to be able to listen with an open mind, an empathetic ear, and a compassionate heart, in order to achieve and deliver the level and quality of justice that a free and democratic society deserves and expects from its judiciary. This is a challenging and difficult undertaking which requires constant vigilance, continuous learning, and creative flexibility.
4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?
The audience for the decisions rendered by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta is a large and diverse group. First and foremost are the parties to the particular dispute that is before the court for resolution, as they have a direct interest in the outcome. These are the people who have a front row seat to the process, who interact most directly with the system and the proceedings, and who are the most directly affected. By extension, and depending on the nature of their dispute, their families, friends and business organizations are also often very closely involved and can be affected directly or indirectly by the outcome.
If the matter is an appeal from the Provincial Court, the members of that court in general, and the specific judge who made the initial ruling or decision in particular, also have an interest in the decision rendered by the Court of Queen’s Bench on appeal. This interest is both from an informational and educational point of view. The lower court judge will want to know what he or she did right or wrong, and the entire lower court will want to know the direction the higher court is going on particular issues, as those decisions are binding on the lower court.
If a decision given in the Court of Queen’s Bench is appealed, the Alberta Court of Appeal will also have an interest in the original decision and will certainly want to know the basis upon which that decision was granted in order to properly dispense with the appeal before it. On a more general basis, the Court of Appeal will also be watching Queen’s Bench decisions on various matters and will be interested in knowing how Court of Queen’s Bench judges are approaching certain issues. The Court of Appeal will want to identify whether there is unity or disparity on issues between judges at that level, as disparity often will signal the need for direction at the appellate level.
Of course, the other members of the Court of Queen’s Bench will also look to their colleagues’ decisions to see how they handle particular issues, as the court will be concerned with ensuring fairness to parties by providing some degree of unity. While judges are independent and not bound by the decisions of their colleagues, it is important that judges be aware of how other members of their court handle particular matters.
Provincial and federal government, including the Departments of Justice, the Justice Ministers and the leaders of the province and the nation, are important members of the court audience, as they have a particularly high interest in ensuring that the justice system is operating effectively and efficiently, and that the laws they enact are being enforced and upheld. Because government carries the enormous and important responsibility to administer our justice system and create policy and law, government will also want to know if there are any gaps in the system that need filling, and will want to be informed about what appears not to be working well for its citizens. Court decisions play an important role in this process.
Society, being the general public at large, and the legal community in particular, are also important members of the Queen’s Bench audience. Court decisions set precedents, which help guide future potential litigants. Lawyers have a need to understand the current status of the law so that they can give informed and effective advice to their clients. Clients and the broader public also need to be able to have some certainty or at least predictability in how the court is likely to deal with their particular matter in the event they need to seek intervention and assistance from the court.
Other interested persons and entities are the media, and the public who rely on the media to keep them informed of important legal issues and events. Cases may be notorious and/or involve issues that have a societal or public interest impact, and society has an interest in seeing that justice is done and that our system is effective and fair.
In addition, courts in other provinces often look to other jurisdictions, especially within Canada, to see how those courts are dealing with emerging trends and issues. Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decisions can provide valuable insight to other provinces about the issues that have faced our residents, and can give guidance to other courts on matters that they may be dealing with for the first time.
Academics are always also keenly interested in the decisions of our courts, as they frequently provide intellectual commentary and analysis. Academics often rely on court decisions to create new educational material for law students in order to prepare them properly for their legal careers and the informed representation of their clients.
There are many other members of this diverse audience, including justice system administrators, other government departments, public interest groups and organizations, programs and services that are connected to the court system, and law enforcement agencies that enforce the laws that exist and are interpreted by the courts. The reach of the justice system is broad and deep, and the decisions that the court makes in the course of delivering justice, touch virtually everyone in our society.
5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.
I consider myself to be an energetic, ambitious and organized person who is decisive, responsible and even-handed. I do not shirk from my duties, and I hold myself to a high standard of performance. I have never attempted to deflect blame on others for things that were ultimately my responsibility to accomplish or manage, and have always operated from a “buck stops here” mentality.
As a life-long learner, I continuously pursue additional education in a variety of areas. I pride myself on being able to take on any challenge and learn what I need in order to accomplish my goals and obtain high-quality results. If I am given an unfamiliar task or case, l do what I can to educate myself and become familiar with it, and I seek out advice from others who are more experienced in that area than I am. I am never afraid to admit my lack of experience on an issue, and am always grateful for the support guidance and wisdom that can be gained from consulting others. However, being an independent thinker, I am careful to gather information from many sources, then analyze that information and apply it in the way that I feel is right for me, rather than just simply taking direction from others or following their lead.
I believe myself to be an excellent writer, an avid reader, an inquisitive listener, and a creative thinker. My interests in problem-solving, organizing and project management date all the way back to my childhood years. Consequently, I am a proactive, assertive and decisive problem-solver, although with maturity I have also learned that it is crucial to consult and engage others in decision-making processes and where possible incorporate their input. My legal training and life experiences, which have been outlined in various areas of this application, have not only given me subject-matter knowledge in a wide variety of areas, but have also contributed to my development as a rational, open-minded and calm decision-maker. I am not afraid to make reasoned decisions, after investigation and examination of all relevant circumstances. I do not make them hastily. I stand behind my decisions, and take responsibility for them, even when they are unpopular.
I also consider myself to be an influential and supportive leader, and I believe that throughout my career I have earned and maintained the respect of my staff, my colleagues and my superiors. I very much enjoyed leading, guiding and empowering people and believe that this is now a particular strength of mine.
I have significant interest in issues such as the role of alternate dispute resolution in the court system, the particular challenges relating to self-represented litigants, and the improvement of access to justice for Albertans and their families. I have devoted significant time in my career to these issues, and believe that they are critically important to the long term health and well-being of our society.
I also have many life experiences that allow me to be able to relate to people who appear before me. I have been an injured plaintiff, a business owner and boss, a landlord, and a tenant. I have worked for government, for boards and for public oversight of the police service. I have answered to others, worked collaboratively with others, and have supervised others. I have also traveled extensively throughout the world, experiencing the cultures, languages and societies of different countries. In addition, I have strived at all times to achieve and maintain a healthy work-life balance. This has meant taking time for family and for myself. I have a diverse interest in a number of areas and often am taking some sort of lessons in music, languages, arts, crafts or construction. Through the years I have also tried to maintain a good level of physical fitness by participating in activities such as soccer, half-marathons, hiking, golf, gym workouts and yoga, all of which is an important balance to employment pursuits that engage the brain more often than the body.
On a personal level, l have previously been divorced twice, have been in a blended family situation for approximately 18 years, and have raised 2 children and 2 step-children in joint parenting arrangements. These experiences have given me great insight into the obstacles and issues that arise in modern families. My extensive alternate dispute resolution training gave me the tools to handle those situations without having a single contested court application regarding the parenting or support of any of my children.
As I have gained more extensive life and work experiences, I believe that a number of qualities have emerged in my personality that were not as apparent in my earlier years. I now find myself to be far more understanding and empathetic, and far more patient and humble than I once was as a young professional. As well, rather than simply leaping straight to a solution, conclusion, or the sharing of my own opinions on a particular issue, I see myself now being initially more inquisitive and curious, and more concerned with strategic or “big picture” points of view and solutions. I have a strong value system, a sensitivity to alternate cultures and lifestyles, and no biases of which I am aware. I encourage and embrace diversity, and treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter the situation. I feel that I already make a meaningful contribution to the Provincial Court and that I am already regarded favorably by the bar and the bench as a judge of that court. I believe I have the qualities necessary to be an effective and impartial member of the Court of Queen’s Bench as well.
6. Given the goal of ensuring that Canadians are able to look at the justices appointed to the bench and see their faces and life experience reflected there, you may, if you choose, provide information about yourself that you feel would assist in this objective.
This is a difficult question to answer. As I have already noted above, I am a woman, and certainly have personally experienced issues related to being female in what was once a predominantly male profession, but I do not fall into any other diversity category that has been specifically identified on this questionnaire. I am not a visible minority, nor do I have any apparent disabilities, challenges, preferences or orientations that may seem different from “mainstream” society. There is nothing on the outside other than my gender to differentiate me. However, I do not think this is or should be detrimental or fatal to one’s ability to fulfill a judicial role.
I am still human. I have made mistakes in my life, but I like to think that I have grown as a result and have become the person that I am because of my life experiences. I have been divorced twice. I have raised children in a shared custody arrangement and have been a stepmother in a blended family. I have been a business owner, an employee, a student and unemployed. I have suffered the untimely loss of people who were important to me, and have been the victim of crimes. I have made claims against people who have injured me, and I have defended myself against what I felt were unfair or unsubstantiated accusations. I have been subjected to gender discrimination issues, and inappropriate situations of a sexual nature. I have struggled to make my way when times were tough, and I have enjoyed the benefits of better circumstances.
As I have gone through my life experiences and assisted many people in experiencing theirs, my basic value system has been affirmed and reinforced: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Believe that most people do the best they can with the skills they have. Be fair and impartial – there are always two sides to every story and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. Forgive when you can. Be kind.
Choosing the right people to sit in judgment of others is a critically important task. Sitting in judgment of others is a critically important responsibility – one that I take seriously every single day.
Thank you for considering my application.
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