Government of Canada announces judicial appointment in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador

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. 

Francis P. O’Brien, Director of Legal Education at the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Court of Appeal. He replaces Mr. Justice M.H. Rowe, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on October 28, 2016.


Justice Francis P. O’Brien is a graduate of Memorial University (B.A. in French and political science), Dalhousie University (LL.B.) and the University of Cambridge (LL.M.). As part of the first generation of his family to attend university, Justice O’Brien was designated a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and received numerous academic and professional awards.

Called to the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in 1991, Justice O’Brien first practised civil litigation in St. John’s with a private firm. He later became the Director of Legal Education with the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. In this role, he has educated more than 500 new lawyers in the provincial Bar Admission Course. In addition, he has coordinated the development and delivery of more than 150 continuing legal education programs for members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar.

Justice O’Brien has also been an Adjunct Professor at Memorial University since 1994, teaching courses in Canadian constitutional law, international law, governance, and public policy. Over the years, he has taught more than 3,000 students. Justice O’Brien has also served as president of the Association of Canadian Legal Education Directors, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Technical Advisory Group for the National Entry to Practice Competency Profile, and the Interdisciplinary Committee on Ethics in Human Research (Memorial University).

Excerpts from Justice O’Brien’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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