Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Ontario

News Release

July 18, 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 J. Michal Fairburn, a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, is appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. She replaces Madam Justice E.A. Cronk, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective September 12, 2016.

The Honourable Heather McArthur, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Toronto. She replaces Madam Justice E. E. Frank who resigned effective July 4, 2017.

Andrew A. Sanfilippo, a partner at O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo LLP, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. He replaces Mr. Justice J. Wilton-Siegel, who elected to become a supernumerary judge, effective June 27, 2017.

Jocelyn Speyer, chief counsel in the Crown Law Office-Criminal for the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Durham. She replaces Madam Justice J. Ferguson, who transferred to Toronto to replace Madam Justice H. Sachs, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective June 30, 2016.


Prior to Madam Justice J. Michal Fairburn’s elevation to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, she sat as a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Justice Fairburn spent most of her formative years on a small family farm outside the town of Beaverton, Ontario. Her father and mother made significant contributions to the public education system. She obtained her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Toronto and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1992.

For over two decades, Justice Fairburn worked as Crown counsel and then general counsel within the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario. She appeared in every level of court, including arguing over 25 appeals in the Supreme Court of Canada and many more in the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Several of the appeals involved the most pressing and complex criminal and constitutional issues of the day. Her appellate work complemented her experience as a trial litigator. In 2013, she became a partner at Stockwoods LLP, where her practice expanded to include civil litigation as well as regulatory work. Justice Fairburn was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in December 2014. Since then, she has been sitting as a trial judge in Brampton.

Over her long and distinguished legal career, Justice Fairburn has held many roles within the administration of justice, including serving as an advisor to the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute and holding the position of Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance Co-ordinator for Ontario. She was appointed a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and sat on The Advocates’ Society’s Board of Directors. She was a member of the Justice and Media Liaison Committee. She has been a tireless educator, teaching justice participants both within and outside Canada, including on faculties with the National Judicial Institute, the Federation of Law Societies’ National Criminal Law Program, a number of law associations, the International Criminal Court and the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law. She has authored many articles and is the co-author of the Police Powers Newsletter, a Carswell publication.

Justice Fairburn is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including the Catzman Award for Professionalism and Civility. She also received the Doug Lucas Award for Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice through Science. She has shown a long commitment to her community, including her lengthy service on the East Gwillimbury Accessibility Advisory Committee and her coaching of young women in basketball.

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

Madam Justice Heather McArthur graduated from the University of Toronto Law School in 1992 and was called to the bar in 1994. She practised criminal defence law for almost 18 years prior to her appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2011. Before joining the bench, she successfully defended cases at all levels of court, including the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Her practice was primarily focused on large and complex homicide trials and appeals. Since her appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice she has presided over countless trials, guilty pleas, and pre-trials, and frequently presides in Gladue court.

Throughout her career, Justice McArthur has been actively involved in legal education, teaching trial advocacy at Osgoode Hall Law School, chairing a number of judicial and legal education conferences and presenting on a wide variety of criminal law topics. She acted as a Toronto Director for the Ontario Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and chaired many of their sub-committees. She was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted and the College Montrose Children’s Place. She used these myriad opportunities to mentor many young students and lawyers, both formally and informally. Justice McArthur is the proud mother of two children.

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

Mr. Justice Andrew A. Sanfilippo practised defence civil litigation for 33 years, the last 23 years as a founding partner of the Toronto law firm O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo LLP. He acted extensively in the defence of professionals, including hundreds of Ontario lawyers implicated in cases of professional negligence, and acted as defence counsel in complex litigation in the areas of products liability, mass tort and personal injury. He acted as coverage or advisory counsel to many of Ontario’s insurance companies and has for decades been consulted on high-profile insurance matters across Canada and the United States. He has acted extensively as mediation counsel and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He has been a frequent author and panellist in a wide spectrum of legal areas.

Justice Sanfilippo was born and raised in Collingwood, Ontario, one of six children of an immigrant father from Sicily and a mother whose parents had earlier immigrated from the same small Sicilian village. He first learned how to work hard in his parents’ produce business. Justice Sanfilippo was educated at Queen’s University (B.A., Hons., 1978), University of Windsor Faculty of Law (LL.B., 1981), and New York University School of Law (LL.M., 1982). Outside of the law, Justice Sanfilippo has been an active supporter of charities and causes affecting children, whether in medicine, the arts, or sports, and is a minister of hospitality at his church.

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

Madam Justice Jocelyn Speyer was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, before moving to Ontario and then British Columbia. The eldest child of immigrants from the Netherlands, she earned a law degree in 1983 from Queen’s University. Justice Speyer articled with the Crown Law Office - Criminal, and following her call to the bar, practised there as counsel for ten years, arguing criminal appeals in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. She then gained extensive trial experience as a prosecutor at every level of trial court; first as an assistant Crown attorney, and then Crown Attorney for the County of Wellington in Guelph, Ontario. In 2013, she was assigned the role of coroner’s counsel at the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith. Justice Speyer then returned to her roots at the Crown Law Office - Criminal, where she worked as chief counsel until her appointment.

Concurrent to her busy career, Justice Speyer made time to contribute to numerous continuing legal education programs, providing education to Crown and defence counsel, judges, and police throughout Canada. She has been a long-time member of the faculty of the Federation of Law Societies National Criminal Law Program, and recently become a national co-chair of that program. She has written extensively about criminal law, evidence, procedure, and ethics. She is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the preeminent organization of trial lawyers in North America, dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, professionalism, ethics, and the administration of justice.

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

Quick Facts 

  • Budget 2017 includes 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 will 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.
  • 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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