Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Ontario

News release

May 24, 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.

Nathalie Champagne, a case management master of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Cornwall. She replaces Mr. Justice J.R. Henderson (St. Catharines), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective December 31, 2017. Due to internal transfers effected by the Chief Justice, this vacancy is located in Cornwall.

Pamela MacEachern, a partner at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario and a member of the Family Court in Ottawa. She fills a new Family Court position authorized under Bill C-44, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1.

Tracey J. Nieckarz, a partner at Buset & Partners LLP, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Thunder Bay. She replaces Madam Justice H.M. Pierce, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective June 27, 2017.


Justice Nathalie Champagne was raised in a Canadian military family and received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. She obtained her LL.B. from the University of Ottawa in 1990 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1992. She was appointed a case management master of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2015. She has extensive mediation training and is known for her settlement skills in family law and civil litigation matters.

Prior to her appointment as a case management master, Justice Champagne enjoyed an 18-year career with Legal Aid Ontario, last serving as Director General for the Eastern District. In that capacity, she served a vulnerable client population, about which she is passionate. She has case-managed many criminal and family law matters and conducted mediations and settlement conferences in family and child protection files. She has also helped implement a number of local court-based projects, including the first Family Law Information Centre in Ontario, Drug Treatment Court, Pathways Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Coordinated Case Management, among others. Prior to joining Legal Aid Ontario, Justice Champagne practiced family law, criminal law, and civil litigation. She has served on a number of committees and boards, including the Board of Directors of Action Logement.

Outside of law, Justice Champagne volunteers in her community and has served as a leader for the Girl Guides of Canada, as a Sunday school teacher, and as a director and teacher for a local non-profit children’s drama club. She enjoys snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, paddling, painting, and writing.

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

Justice Pamela MacEachern practised with the Ottawa law firm of Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP from 1994 until her appointment to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. She served as head of the firm’s family law group from 2007 until her appointment and as head of the firm’s wills and estates group from 2015 to 2018. Her practice included family law; wills and estates; civil litigation and personal injury law; and human rights, constitutional, and equality law. At the same time, she remained involved in personal injury litigation, primarily in cases involving sexual violence. She has also remained engaged in human rights, constitutional, and equality work, including in the areas of violence, propagation of hate, defamation, and prisoners’ rights.

Justice MacEachern was involved as legal counsel in a number of precedent-setting cases, including in the area of same-sex spousal recognition and the right to marry (Egan, M. v. H., Trinity Western, Little Sisters, the Marriage Reference, and other cases); unjust enrichment claims for common-law spouses (Vanasse v. Seguin/Kerr v. Baranow); and prisoners’ rights cases (R. v. Ewert).

She served as co-chair of the County of Carleton Law Association (CCLA) Family Law Institute Annual Conference beginning in 2013, and was a member of the conference planning committee beginning in 1999. In addition, she was a founding member of the CCLA’s Diversity Committee.

Justice MacEachern has acted as pro bono legal counsel to both the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and (EGALE). She was the 2018 recipient of the Ontario Bar Association’s Award of Excellence in the Promotion of Women’s Equality.

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

Justice Tracey J. Nieckarz was born in Liverpool, England and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She received her H.B.A. (first class standing) degree in political science from Lakehead University and went on to earn her LL.B. from York University (Osgoode Hall Law School) in 1993. She articled in Thunder Bay and was called to the Ontario bar in 1995.

Justice Nieckarz lives in Thunder Bay with her husband and two children. She practiced in Thunder Bay for her entire legal career. In recent years, her practice has been focused primarily on family law, including representing children through the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Justice Nieckarz has also acted as counsel to various institutional clients on a wide range of issues and has litigated corporate/commercial disputes, construction lien matters, bankruptcy issues, professional negligence, and estate matters. Justice Nieckarz was a partner at the firm of Buset LLP, where she practiced from 2001 until her appointment to the judiciary.

Justice Nieckarz has been extensively involved in both the profession and her community throughout her career. She was an instructor of the family law course at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law (Lakehead University) and served for a number of years as a Council member and on various committees with the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). Prior to her appointment, Justice Nieckarz was the Northwestern Ontario Regional Representative on the OBA Board of Directors. In her community, Justice Nieckarz was actively involved as a member of the Board of Directors of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and she served as the Chair of the Board from 2014-2016.

Excerpts from Justice Nieckarz’s 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. 
  • The Government of Canada is committed to promoting access to justice for all Canadians. To improve outcomes for Canadian families, Budget 2018 proposes $77.2 million over four years to support the expansion of unified family courts, beginning in 2019-2020. This investment in the family justice system will create 39 new judicial positions in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • In addition, Budget 2018 proposes funding for a further seven judicial positions in Saskatchewan and Ontario, at a cost of $17.1 million over five years.
  • The funding outlined in Budget 2018 comes on top of resources allocated under Budget 2017, which created 28 new judicial positions across the country.
  • Additionally, the Government will ensure that a robust process remains in place to allow Canadians to voice their concerns and submit complaints about judicial conduct to the Canadian Judicial Council and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. This investment of $6 million over two years, beginning in 2018-2019, will support the judicial discipline process through which allegations of judicial misconduct are investigated.
  • 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. 


For more information, media may contact:

David Taylor
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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