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

News Release

November 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.

Alexander MacDonald, Q.C., a partner with Cox & Palmer, is appointed a judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s. He fills a new position authorized under Bill C-44, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1.


Mr. Justice Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Technical University of Nova Scotia, and Dalhousie Law School. He practised for his entire career at Halley, Hickman and Hunt and its successor firms. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2000, and has served as the managing partner in the St. John’s office of Cox & Palmer for more than 10 years.

Justice MacDonald’s legal career, which has spanned more than 30 years, has followed the transformation of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy. He has acted as counsel to mining and offshore oil projects and to various iterations of the Lower Churchill hydro project. Justice MacDonald has written and presented extensively on matters related to the legal aspects of the offshore oil and gas industry. He also maintained an active litigation practice and has appeared often in the Newfoundland and Labrador trial and appeal courts.

In addition to maintaining a demanding legal career, Justice MacDonald navigated the perhaps even more complex path of a gay man during the 1980s and 1990s. He watched, with pride and amazement, the fight for LGBTQ2 equality led by many brave and resolute Canadian heroes. He is proud to live in a country where respect for the rule of law and the diversity of humanity are seen as cardinal pillars of national life. He hopes that, in some small way, he can be an example of those ideals.

Excerpts from Justice MacDonald’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 have been 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. Sixteen Judicial Advisory Committees have been reconstituted to date.

  • This process is separate from the Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointment process currently under way. 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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