Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Ontario

News Release

April 12, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments under the new judicial application process announced on October 20, 2016. The new process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

The Honourable Shaun S. Nakatsuru, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. He replaces Madam Justice M.A. Sanderson, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective June 20, 2016.

Robyn M. Ryan Bell, a partner at Bennett Jones LLP, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa. She replaces Mr. Justice G.P. Smith, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective October 30, 2016.


Mr. Justice Shaun S. Nakatsuru was born in Bow Island, Alberta, to Japanese-Canadian parents. His father was interned during the Second World War and his mother immigrated to Canada from Kyushu, Japan. After spending his childhood on his parents’ farm in southern Alberta, Justice Nakatsuru obtained a B.A. from McGill University and an LL.B. from the University of Toronto. He practised criminal and administrative law as a partner in Nakatsuru & Doucette for twelve years. He then became a prosecutor for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and, later, Crown Counsel with the Constitutional Law Branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. Throughout his career, Justice Nakatsuru has volunteered for legal and community organizations, including the Kensington Bellwoods Community Legal Clinic and the National Association of Japanese Canadians (Toronto Chapter). 

Justice Nakatsuru was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2006. Since that time, he has primarily conducted criminal trials and provincial offence appeals. In 2013, he became Judicial Coordinator of the Gladue Court (Indigenous persons’ court) at the Old City Hall courthouse in downtown Toronto. As a judge, he has been praised for the simple, empathetic, and accessible way his decisions address the individuals who come before the court.

Excerpts from Justice Nakatsuru’s judicial application can be accessed at the following link.

Madam Justice Robyn M. Ryan Bell was born in Montreal, Quebec, and raised in Kingston, Ontario. She earned a B.A. in Political Studies from Queen's University, an LL.B. from Dalhousie University (where she was the gold medallist), and an LL.M. from Osgoode Hall Law School. She also holds an Associate Diploma in pianoforte from the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music. She articled and practised as an associate and then as a partner at Davies, Ward & Beck, before joining Bennett Jones LLP in 1997 as a partner. Her practice has focused on administrative law, commercial litigation, privacy law and public law.

Justice Ryan Bell has taught civil trial advocacy at Queen’s University and has been a faculty member at numerous continuing legal education programs. Her publications analyze, among other topics, the development of the common law of privacy. In addition to being a past director of The Advocates’ Society and a past member of its education committee, she was a member of the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism for many years and serves as a Vice-Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. She and her husband live in Chelsea, Quebec, with their daughter.

Excerpts from Justice Ryan Bell’s judicial application can be accessed at the following link.

Quick Facts

  • Budget 2017 proposes additional funding of $55 million over five years beginning in 2017-2018 and $15.5 million per year thereafter for 28 new federally-appointed judges. Of these new positions, 12 would be allotted to Alberta and one to the Yukon, with the remaining 15 being assigned to a pool for needs in other jurisdictions.
  • To ensure a judiciary that is responsive, ethical and sensitive to the evolving needs of Canadian society, the Canadian Judicial Council will receive $2.7 million over five years and $0.5 million ongoing thereafter. This will support programming on judicial education, ethics and conduct, including in relation to gender and cultural sensitivity.
  • Today’s appointments are separate from the Budget 2017 announcement.
  • Federal judicial appointments are made by the Governor General, acting on the advice of the federal Cabinet and recommendations from the Minister of Justice.
  • The Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada play a key role in evaluating judicial applications. There are 17 Judicial Advisory Committees, with each province and territory represented.
  • Significant reforms to the role and structure of the Judicial Advisory Committees, aimed at enhancing the independence and transparency of the process, were announced on October 20, 2016.
  • The Judicial Advisory Committees in seven jurisdictions, including Alberta, were reconstituted and announced on January 19, 2017.  
  • This process is separate from the Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointment process announced on August 2, 2016. Nominees to the Supreme Court of Canada are selected by the Prime Minister from a thoroughly vetted list of candidates. 


For more information, media may contact:

David Taylor
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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