Government of Canada announces judicial appointment in the province of British Columbia

News Release

June 9, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment 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. 

Ward K. Branch, Q.C., managing partner of Branch MacMaster LLP, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver. He replaces Madam Justice C.A. Wedge, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 6, 2016.


After serving as a parliamentary page in the House of Commons and the Senate, Justice Ward K. Branch earned his law degree from the University of Toronto, where he received the Dean’s Key for all-around achievement. He started his practice with Russell & DuMoulin (now Fasken Martineau) in Vancouver. While there, he authored the textbook Class Actions in Canada, which has become a leading resource in the field, cited with approval by the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Branch then opened his own firm, Branch MacMaster LLP, with his mentor James MacMaster. His practice was unique in the area of class actions – he represented both plaintiffs and defendants, acted for and against different levels of government, and appeared before courts in almost every province, in addition to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Justice Branch taught at UBC for many years and was instrumental in establishing and continuing Osgoode Hall Law School’s Annual Class Action Symposium. He was recognized by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia as one of its leading contributors – speaking on issues including civil procedure,  securities, and paralegal training. His firm was awarded the CBA’s Work Life Balance Award for its practices in encouraging alternative work arrangements. Outside of the law, he served many years as a Sunday school teacher and chair of his local church.

Born in Bathurst, New Brunswick, and raised on the Gaspé Coast of Quebec, Justice Branch is an active hockey player. He has lead his team in penalty minutes for many years, for which he is truly sorry.

Excerpts from Justice Branch’s judicial application will be available shortly.


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 ten jurisdictions have been reconstituted. Most recently, Minister Wilson-Raybould announced the composition of three new Judicial Advisory Committees on April 13, 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:
Kathleen Davis
Communications and Parliamentary Affairs Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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