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

News Release

February 22, 2018 – 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.

Barbara J. Norell, Q.C., a partner with Harper Grey LLP, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in New Westminster. She replaces Mr. Justice J.D. Truscott, who resigned effective July 4, 2017.

Wendy A. Baker, Q.C., a partner at Miller Thomson, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver. She replaces Mr. Justice J.W. Williams, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective October 10, 2017.

Sharon Matthews, Q.C., a partner with Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver. She replaces Madam Justice L.B. Gerow, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective October 10, 2017.

Biographies

Madam Justice Barbara J. Norell was born in Saskatchewan. She spent most of her youth on Vancouver Island, but has also lived in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, and Whitehorse, Yukon. She received an LL.B. in 1985 from the University of Victoria and was admitted to the Bar of British Columbia in 1986. From 1985 until her appointment to the bench, she articled and then practised at the Vancouver law firm of Harper Grey LLP. In 2003, she earned an LL.M. in e-commerce from Osgoode Hall Law School. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2016. 

Throughout her career, Justice Norell practised as a civil litigator, first in insurance defence, including the professional negligence of lawyers. In later years, she focused on health law and privacy law in both the litigation and administrative law areas.

Justice Norell has been a frequent speaker at continuing education seminars for the legal, medical, and insurance professions. She is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession and has been an active mentor to other women through the Women Lawyers Forum of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association. As Harper Grey’s chief diversity officer, she was a member of the Justicia project of the Law Society of British Columbia and of the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network. In 2017, she received a Lexpert Zenith award celebrating women in law.  

When her children were young, Justice Norell was a very active volunteer in school and sporting activities in her community, and spent many enjoyable hours chauffeuring, cooking hot dogs, fundraising, and warming spectator benches.

Excerpts from Justice Norell’s judicial application can be accessed at the following link.

Madam Justice Wendy A. Baker is a graduate of the University of Victoria, from which she received her LL.B. in 1992. She was called to the bar in 1993 and joined the firm of Roberts, Muir & Griffin. In 2001, the firm (known then as Roberts & Baker) merged with the national firm of Miller Thomson LLP, where she remained as a partner in the litigation group for the remainder of her career as a lawyer. In 2009, Justice Baker was appointed Queen’s Counsel.

Justice Baker practised commercial litigation, and her experience spans many industries and areas of practice, including corporate and commercial disputes, agricultural law, and Aboriginal law. Acting as commission counsel, she assisted Mr. Justice Cohen on the Commission of Inquiry on the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River from 2009-2012. She was a member of the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal since its inception, and heard appeals as Acting Registrar of the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority and as a member of the B.C. Financial Services Tribunal.

Throughout her career, Justice Baker has been a frequent speaker and contributor to legal education programs. She has contributed to many publications of the B.C. Continuing Legal Education Society, including BC Business Disputes, Introducing Evidence at Trial, and the Advocacy Toolkit. She has taken on many roles in her community, including as a board member and Chair of the West Coast Environmental Law Association, and the Chair of the Karen Jamieson Dance Society. She has also been committed to the mentoring and development of young lawyers, and to the advancement of women in the legal profession.

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

Throughout her career, Madam Justice Sharon Matthews has acted in a broad range of legal matters – including aviation cases, product liability cases, class actions, and public law and constitutional cases. Following her articles at Russell & DuMoulin and Camp Church & Associates, she was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1993. In 2001, she was a founder of the firm now known as Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP, where she practised until her appointment. 

Justice Matthews thrived on the challenge of using complex legal concepts and processes to make a difference in the lives of her clients, who were often injured or disadvantaged. She has appeared as counsel before the superior and appellate courts in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and at the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Alongside her practice, Justice Matthews had been actively engaged in service to the legal community, where she enjoyed working with great colleagues toward the shared goal of improving the justice system for the public it serves. She has frequently spoken at professional development events and has been involved in several access-to-justice initiatives, as well as pro bono work. In 2011-2012, she served as president of the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch. She was elected a Law Society bencher in 2014 and enjoyed adjudicating discipline and credentials hearings so much, she pursued the goal of becoming a British Columbia Supreme Court judge.

Justice Matthews is the recipient of three CBA BC President’s Medals and was the 2006 UBC Law Alumni Association Outstanding Young Alumna. In 2012, she was appointed Queen’s Counsel. 

Justice Matthews’ work ethic and appetite for challenge has been honed by her parents, her four siblings, five beagles, two step-children, and her husband, Master Robert McDiarmid. Justice Matthews and Master McDiarmid enjoy entertaining, skiing, cycling and travelling.

Excerpts from Justice Matthews’ judicial application will be available shortly.


Quick Facts

  • In 2017, the Minister of Justice made 100 appointments and elevations – the most a Minister of Justice has made in one year in at least two decades.

  • Of these appointees, half are women, four are Indigenous, and 16 have self-identified as a member of a visible minority population, LGBTQ2, or a person with a disability.

  • 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.

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

David Taylor
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-4621

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca


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