The Honourable Justice Robyn M. Ryan Bell’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, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench.
Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable Robyn M. Ryan Bell.
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: yes
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:
- Osgoode Hall Law School LL.M. (Administrative Law) 2009
- Dalhousie University LL.B. (Gold Medallist) 1986
- Queen’s University B.A. (Political Studies, magna cum laude) 1983
- Western Ontario Conservatory of Music Associate Diploma (Pianoforte) 1995
- Numerous continuing legal education programs, including the programs at which I was a speaker/faculty member, and the following:
- Indigenous Law Issues 2015 (Law Society of Upper Canada)
- The Advocates’ Society Spring Symposium (May 2011)
- 6th Annual National Administrative Law and Practice (Osgoode Professional Development, October 2010)
- 5th Annual National Administrative Law and Practice (Osgoode Professional Development, October 2009)
- The Advocates’ Society Spring Symposium (May 2007)
- The Advocates’ Society Spring Symposium (May 2004)
- The Cambridge Lectures (July 2003)
- The Advocates’ Society Spring Symposium (May 2003)
- Child Advocacy Training Project (The Advocates’ Society, August 2002)
Honours and Awards:
- 1986: Gold Medallist; Carswell Prize for highest standing in third year; Ronald T. Donald Prize in Insurance; Blake Cassels & Graydon Prize; Goldberg, Ehrlich and MacDonald Prize for Criminal Procedure
- 1985: Carswell Prize for highest standing in second year; Richard DeBoo Limited Taxation Prize; Canada Law Book Company Procedure Prize; R. Graham Murray Prize for second year; Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Prize for second year; Law Foundation of Nova Scotia Scholarship (renewal)
- 1984: Goodfellow, MacKenzie Prize for second highest standing in first year; Law Foundation of Nova Scotia Scholarship (renewal)
- 1983: Law Foundation of Nova Scotia Scholarship; Wallace Near Prize in Political Studies for outstanding achievement
- 1982: Gordon and Myrtle Adams Scholarship for outstanding achievement; Dean’s Honour List, Queen’s University
- 1981: Queen’s University Tricolour Scholarship (renewal); Dean’s Honour List, Queen’s University
- 1980: Queen’s University Tricolour Scholarship
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:
- July 1997 to present: Bennett Jones LLP (partner, litigation)
- 1993 to July 1997: Davies, Ward & Beck (partner, litigation)
- 1990 to 1993: Davies, Ward & Beck (non-equity partner, litigation)
- 1988 to 1990: Davies, Ward & Beck (associate, litigation)
- 1986 to 1987: Davies, Ward & Beck (articling student)
- 1985: Davies, Ward & Beck (summer student)
Non-Legal Work Experience:
- Summer 1984: Research Assistant, Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, Queen’s University
- Summer 1983: Research Assistant, Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, Queen’s University
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.
- The Advocates’ Society:
- Director 1999-2002
- Member of the Education Committee 2002-2003
- Canadian Bar Association: Member
- Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice: Past member and renewed member as of January 1, 2017
- The Osgoode Society: Member
- Federated Press: Editorial Board member and contributor to Corporate Liability Journal 2003-2012
- Juris Publishing: Editorial Board member of Competition Law of Canada 1995-1996
- Bennett Jones LLP: Articling Principal 2004, 2006-2008
Pro Bono Activities:
- Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism: member for many years, beginning in the early 2000s, and past chair of the Communications Subcommittee (formerly, Communications and Publications Task Force)
- Duty Counsel Roster, Law Society of Upper Canada: past member. See for example, Law Society of Upper Canada v. Prentice,  L.S.D.D. No. 125
- Representation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Zündel); the Right to Die Society (Rodriguez)
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.)
- Written Advocacy Program (The Advocates’ Society and Osgoode Professional Development): Faculty member from 2005 to 2016 inclusive
- Advanced Trial Advocacy program, offered as part of the LL.M. degree program in Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution (Osgoode, The Hon. Justice Todd Archibald and Ken Jull, directors): Guest instructor in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2015
- The Advocates’ Society: Faculty member/panelist at numerous programs including:
- Mastering Winning Discovery Techniques (2016);
- Appellate Advocacy DOJ (2016);
- Train the Trainer (2015);
- Do a Trial (2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013);
- A Trial A to Z (Speaker in 2010; Co-chair in 2005, 2006, 2011);
- Courthouse Series (Co-chair in 2003 and 2004; Speaker in 2008);
- Effective Cross-examinations (2005);
- Effective Examinations-in-chief (2003); and
- Simplifying Complex Litigation (2001)
- Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop: Guest instructor in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010
- Law Society of Upper Canada: speaker/faculty member at the following programs:
- Powerful Pleadings (2010);
- Discovery Best Practices (2004);
- The Return of the Six Minute Commercial Advocate – “Disgorgement as a Remedy in Contract” (2001);
- Civil Motions Workshop (1999, 2002, 2003)
- Canadian Bar Association: presenter at Annual Institute – “The Summary Judgment Motion” (1999) and Ontario Annual Institute (1998)
- Queen’s University Law School: Instructor in Civil Trial Advocacy Program, two years in the early 1990s
Community and Civic Activities:
List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.
- Anglican Diocese of Toronto
- Vice-Chancellor, Chair, Advisory Commission, Member, Constitution and Canons Committee, 2011 to present
- Member, Trusts Committee, 2008 to present
- St. Aidan’s Church, Toronto
- Warden, 2004-2005
- Member, Selection Committee, 2003
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?
- From my perspective, my most significant contributions to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada are the following: (i) the leading role I have played and continue to play in advancing provincial interests in their respective Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery litigation; (ii) my contributions to the development of privacy law in Canada through the articles summarized above and included with this application; and (iii) more generally, my effective oral and written advocacy on behalf of public, private, individual and corporate clients in a wide variety of matters across many different judicial and tribunal settings.
(i) Advancing Provincial Interests in the Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery Litigation
- For the last eight years, I have played a leading role in representing six provinces in their statutory claims against tobacco manufacturers for the recovery of health care costs under their respective Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery Acts. The six provinces are: New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and, most recently, British Columbia. I have been involved at all stages of the litigation at both a strategic and an advocacy level. I have had primary responsibility for writing the majority of facta/memoranda and have appeared as counsel on numerous motions. The issues that have arisen have been diverse. In addition to jurisdiction and various pleadings and evidentiary challenges, the contingency fee arrangement between the province of New Brunswick and its counsel was challenged on the basis of an alleged conflict of interest and violation of the Federal Financial Administration Act and the Constitution. I was lead counsel in responding to these particular challenges. To my knowledge, these issues relating to the contingency fee agreement were, at the time, a matter of first impression in Canada. Most recently, privacy interests in connection with health records have been at the heart of interlocutory proceedings in New Brunswick and British Columbia. I have been engaged with these issues relating to health care records in both provinces; in New Brunswick, I appeared before the Court of Appeal and most recently, responded to an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The scope of this litigation requires a familiarity with and an appreciation for all issues across Canada.
(ii) Contribution to the Development of Privacy Law
- Here, I refer to my articles on the tort of invasion of privacy and the tort of intrusion upon seclusion as recognized by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Jones v. Tsige. These papers provided me with an opportunity to research and write about the current state of the common law in Canada and in other jurisdictions in relation to privacy interests. More importantly, however, the articles allowed me to engage more broadly with the concept of Charter values, privacy case law in a criminal law context, and Supreme Court of Canada directives that the common law must develop in a manner consistent with the changing needs of society. Jones v. Tsige affirms the ability of the common law to evolve to respond to current societal values through incremental changes. In the second article, I discussed the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Grant v. Torstar which modified the law of defamation to recognize a defence of responsible communication on a matter of public interest. This allowed me to consider how a Grant-type public interest defence would play out in a privacy case, where claims for the protection of freedom of expression or freedom of the press may also be engaged. I am grateful to Justice Todd Archibald for providing these opportunities and for his insightful comments in connection with both papers.
(iii) Contribution to Oral and Written Advocacy
- More generally, I believe that my effective oral and written advocacy on behalf of a wide range of clients – public and private, individual and corporate – in diverse matters and settings has contributed to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada. I include my advocacy before administrative tribunals as these tribunals play an essential role in resolving disputes in our society. Some of the matters in which I have been engaged have been routine; others have been more challenging or novel. Regardless of the factual dispute, allegation, complaint (in the case of certain administrative tribunals), or legal issue, effective oral and written advocacy skills are essential to persuade the court or tribunal of the merits of the client’s position. These are skills that I do my best to improve each and every time I have an opportunity to advocate. I am frequently asked to teach oral and written advocacy skills and am always delighted when I see improvement in the advocacy skills of the young advocates whom I mentor. I also feel it is important to instill a sense of professionalism and responsibility in addition to these didactic skills. It has always been my experience that when we give back to our profession in this way, both student and teacher benefit.
2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?
- The insights I have into the variety and diversity of Canadians have been gained primarily through three “sources”: (i) living in several regions of Canada and travelling extensively across Canada; (ii) being engaged in particular legal matters; and (iii) continuing education opportunities.
- First, I have had the good fortune to live in and experience several regions of Canada. While I was born in Montreal, I grew up in Kingston, Ontario. For many years, we would spend time each summer visiting my mother’s family in Saskatchewan – in Regina and on small farms in the surrounding area. In these rural communities, I was exposed to a wide range of social and economic issues. I came to realize that the sense of community and spirit shared by those who lived there went a long way toward offsetting their apparent adversities. One of the determining factors in my decision to attend law school at Dalhousie was my desire to experience first-hand maritime living and culture. In my three years at the school and in the years following, I visited all of the Atlantic provinces. I met persons with a wide variety of backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances and shared time with families experiencing the effects of the downturn in the maritime economy. I also gained insight into the diversity of Canadians and their differing perspectives as a result of practising law and living in Toronto for many years. Most recently, my family and I moved to Chelsea, Quebec in 2012. We deliberately chose to live outside a major city centre and in the province of Quebec, to experience French Canadian culture.
- Many of my experiences of Canada have been the result of legal matters that have taken me across the country. One of my more interesting cases was that of Bolivar Gold which was resolved in the Yukon Territory. Dealing with this matter took me (together with my husband and my then-18 month old) to Whitehorse. We took advantage of the time we had there to experience as much as possible of that community.
- It was an incredible, eye-opening experience. Regrettably, we have not been able to organize a trip to either Nunavut or the Northwest Territories; however, we are hopeful that we will be able to visit both next summer. My work on the provincial Health Care Costs Recovery litigation has taken me to Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg and various cities and towns in New Brunswick. Each such experience has provided me with a greater understanding of the diversity of Canadians, from city to city and within each city or town. Finally, I mention an Atlantic to Pacific train trip that we did as a family a few years ago. To be able to see Canada and its people through the eyes of a child was a true privilege; the vastness of our country’s geography is second only to the diversity of Canadians themselves.
- Second, I believe that my engagement in particular legal matters has provided me with a better insight into the diversity of Canadians. Here I refer to my representation of the intervenor, The Right to Die Society before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Sue Rodriguez case; my representation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the proceedings before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (and related proceedings in the Federal Court) against Ernst Zündel; and my work as a very junior lawyer with John I. Laskin in the Arlington Crane case. My work in the Sue Rodriguez case provided me with a greater insight into the perspectives of not only the terminally ill, but also people with disabilities. In the Ernst Zündel case, Zündel was charged with violating section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The complaints related to Holocaust denial material posted by Zündel on a U.S.-based website known as the Zündelsite. I gained a greater understanding of the perspectives of those Canadians who have suffered hate discrimination. I have also included here my work on the Arlington Crane matter. In brief, this case involved a significant Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge to the closed shop provisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Code. As a result of my involvement, I obtained insight into trade unions and manufacturers operating in a trade union environment.
- Third, I have endeavoured to take full advantage of various continuing education experiences that I believe have provided me with insight into the unique perspective of Canadians who live in the north. As vice-chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, I have been privileged to attend presentations on life in the north and the unique challenges facing those who live in northern regions. Our church in Ottawa has partnered with the Council of the North on the Suicide Prevention Program (a program that responds to the tragedy of suicide, especially as it affects Indigenous youth).
3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.
- The role of a judge in a constitutional democracy is to independently and impartially adjudicate disputes. Judicial independence is a foundational principle of our Constitution. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees everyone accused of a crime that her or his case will be heard by “an independent and impartial tribunal.” As described by the Supreme Court of Canada, judicial independence consists of the freedom “to render decisions based solely on the requirements of the law and justice” (Mackin v. New Brunswick) and it requires that the judiciary be free from improper “interference from any other entity” (R. v. Ell). Judicial independence is fundamental to ensuring public confidence in the justice system. The disputes that judges are called upon to adjudicate are often those between individuals (including corporations) or between the state and the individual; on occasion, the disputes may be between different levels of government. Trial judges must hear and weigh all of the relevant evidence before them and all judges must interpret and apply the relevant procedural and substantive law, as well as the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A judge must be free and be seen to be free, to perform her or his adjudicative role without interference, including interference from the other branches of government. A judge must at all times remain objective and impartial, and be seen to be objective and impartial.
- The legislature has given the judiciary a supervisory jurisdiction to determine whether legislation or government conduct is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, if so, to fashion an appropriate and just remedy. From this perspective, the judiciary plays an important role in developing the law. The “living tree” metaphor continues to be the appropriate approach in constitutional interpretation, ensuring “that Confederation can be adapted to new social realities” (as stated by Justice Deschamps in Reference re Employment Insurance Act). That said, the rule of law requires that courts apply legislation that complies with the Constitution, even if that law is perceived to be “unjust” or “unfair.”
- Where there is a Supreme Court of Canada precedent or a ruling of a higher court in the particular province or territory that interprets the law, the judge of the lower court is obligated to determine the matter in accordance with the precedent, provided the material facts are the same. The case may, however, be a matter of first impression. If a question of statutory interpretation is involved, by interpreting a specific statutory provision, a judge may be said to be developing the law. In the judicial review of administrative decisions, a judge both develops and applies the law in a constitutional democracy. Judicial review of the fairness of administrative procedures, the sufficiency of the legal authority for administrative action and the rational exercise of discretion by public bodies may all yield developments in the law applicable to the particular agency or of more general application.
- Finally, as Justice Cory wrote in Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto, “Historically, the common law evolved as a result of the courts making those incremental changes which were necessary in order to make the law comply with current societal values.” The common law, through the judiciary, can and should develop in a manner consistent with the values underlying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, recognizing that far-reaching changes (as opposed to incremental revisions) are to be left to the legislature. In this context, it is important to note that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms that Canada is a multicultural country and that the Charter is to be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians. The desirability of and need for incremental changes to the common law has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada (for example, in Grant v. Torstar where the Court modified the law of defamation to recognize a defence of responsible communication on matters of public interest) and by the Court of Appeal for Ontario (for example, in Jones v. Tsige, recognizing the common law tort of intrusion upon seclusion). That said, the judge’s role in a constitutional democracy in developing the law is limited – the provincial and federal legislatures have the responsibility for enacting laws as they see fit, subject to the Constitution and the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?
- In my view, there are four audiences for the decisions rendered by the courts to which I am applying: (i) the parties to the dispute; (ii) those who practise or who are engaged in the field/industry/area of law to which the decision relates; (iii) in the case of the appellate courts setting precedent or providing guidance, the audience includes the lower level court in the jurisdiction; and (iv) more broadly, the general public, including the media.
- The most immediate audience for decisions of the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice is the parties to the dispute before the court. The parties, whether they be individuals, corporations or governments, are those most impacted by the decision. Clarity in the written reasons for decision is critical to maintaining public confidence in the judicial system. The decision communicates with the parties and allows them to see that the issues in their case have been considered. It also allows them to determine if an appeal is warranted. Where the dispute is determined based on settled law, the audience may be limited to the parties directly involved in the matter.
- A wider audience for decisions of these courts is those who practise or who are engaged in the field, industry, or area of law to which the decision relates. If an issue is novel or requires an interpretation or development of the law, the decision may well have broader implications beyond the parties to the dispute. Jones v. Tsige is an example: although the case involved a private law dispute between bank employees, the decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario can be expected to provide guidance to courts in those provinces with statutory torts for the invasion of privacy. The case has also had and will continue to have an impact in class actions, health law, family law, media law and employment law, as well as in common law evidentiary contexts. In a case dealing with an alleged unreasonable search and seizure, the audience for the decision will include law enforcement agencies. And when public law issues are engaged, for example, in matters involving administrative law, the decision may impact the practice and procedure before a particular tribunal, those who conduct business under a particular regulatory scheme or in a given industry, and/or public interest advocacy groups.
- In the case of the Federal Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal for Ontario, in setting precedent, the audience for their decisions includes the lower level court in the jurisdiction. Of course, in addition to the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal also hears appeals from judgments of the Tax Court of Canada and has jurisdiction to hear judicial review applications from those federal boards and tribunals listed in section 28 of the Federal Courts Act. Where there is a Supreme Court of Canada precedent or a ruling of a higher court in the particular province or territory that interprets the law, the judge of the lower court is obligated to determine the matter in accordance with the precedent (provided the material facts are the same).
- The final and broadest audience for decisions rendered by the courts is the general public, including the media which plays a critical role in disseminating information about court decisions to the public. Every trial, hearing or appeal is an act of communication with the public.
- Public confidence in the integrity of our court system and public understanding of the administration of justice is fostered by the open court principle; justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. This is particularly true of those matters which raise Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues, given the fundamental nature of those rights and freedoms and the societal values that are recognized in the Charter. We are a diverse and multicultural society as affirmed in the Charter. The Charter affirms and recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights. In section 15 of the Charter, we recognize and guarantee that “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” In this sense, all decisions involving Charter issues speak to all of us, as Canadians.
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 have been a civil litigator for 28 years and have endeavoured over this period of time to maintain as broad a litigation practice as possible. I have had the opportunity to be involved in a wide variety of matters on behalf of a broad range of clients – public, private, corporate and individual – at all levels of court, in different provinces and tribunal settings. I have had experience in a wide range of business disputes, administrative law issues, constitutional law matters, product liability cases, privacy law issues, directors’ and officers’ liability disputes, competition-related issues, access to information, securities litigation and class actions. Strong analytical skills, coupled with a strong work ethic, allow me to embrace different areas of law, both substantive and procedural. I thrive on new challenges. As one of the lead counsel representing six provinces in their tobacco health care costs recovery litigation, I have very much enjoyed the opportunities presented to litigate in the provinces of New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I enjoy researching and learning new areas of the law and I am able to learn quickly. I am also able to handle a heavy and, at times, an isolating workload, and to adapt to new contexts and environments; these abilities have served me well as a litigator and would, I believe, serve me well as a judge.
- I have strong oral and written communication skills. Effective legal writing is one of my passions, as demonstrated by my written publications over my years of practice. For over ten years, I have been a keen member of the faculty of the Written Advocacy program organized by The Advocates’ Society and Osgoode Professional Development. I also enjoy mentoring junior members of my firm, particularly in the area of written advocacy. I believe strongly in giving back to the profession and I am appreciative of the opportunity to do so through continuing legal education programs and pro bono opportunities. Through continuing legal education programs, I have had the opportunity to see firsthand the dedication of our nation’s judges in making the legal process more accessible to both the bar and the public.
- I would describe myself as hard-working, determined and diligent in all that I do, both personally and professionally. Others describe me as having good analytical skills. I am organized and efficient. I enjoy a challenge. I strive at all times to be respectful and considerate of others. I believe my colleagues consider me to be very approachable. I am seen as someone who is willing to entertain different arguments. I am receptive to constructive criticism, while not compromising on the facts. I am known for listening before I comment. I am considered a good team player, but I also work well independently as is often required in my practice. I have learned that extreme dedication to clients cannot come at the expense of family; communicating with my family, even when I am travelling on business, is a priority. So too is maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.
- My work with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto includes being Vice-Chancellor (who, together with the Chancellor, is to advise and assist the Bishop in discipline matters and “cases of difficulty or doubt”), a member of the Trusts Committee (which deals with property and financial issues), a member of the Constitution and Canons Committee and the chair of the Advisory Commission on Termination of Clerical Appointments. I believe that this work demonstrates my ability to exercise good judgment and to make decisions. My strong belief in the importance of professionalism is underscored by my work for many years with the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism. I believe that civility in our justice system is critical to its effectiveness; vigorous debate – either between counsel or before a court – should never translate into behaviour that is discourteous or disrespectful.
- I have been extremely fortunate to experience some of the regional diversity that makes Canada so unique: growing up in Kingston, Ontario, attending law school in Halifax, practising law for many years in Toronto and now living in Chelsea, Quebec. I have spent time in all ten provinces and one territory. My litigation practice has also afforded me the opportunity to spend time and litigate in Whitehorse, Fredericton, Winnipeg and Regina. Seeing and experiencing Canada’s social diversity has been both rewarding and educational; this inspirational journey would not have been possible without the unconditional love and support of my husband and our daughter.
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.
- All Canadians deserve the best judiciary possible. We have the best judicial system in the world – attending the Cambridge Lectures underscored this fact for me. Our judiciary must continue to be vibrant, attentive and highly competent and we must work diligently to improve access to justice for all Canadians. As a second generation Canadian, wife, mother, and female lawyer, I know how fortunate I am. I also know that there are many other Canadians who have a much shorter history in Canada or a much more diverse background than I do. These truths have only served to make me intensely aware, respectful and appreciative of the unique perspectives of my colleagues, friends and neighbours from all parts of Canada and from all walks of life. Canada’s diversity is our strength and our heritage is our heart.
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