Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in Nunavut

News release

June 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.

Susan Charlesworth, senior review counsel at Queen’s University Legal Aid, in Kingston, is appointed a judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit. She replaces Mr. Justice E.D. Johnson, who resigned effective September 30, 2015.

Christian Lyons, general counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, is appointed a judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit. He replaces Mr. Justice R.G. Kilpatrick, who resigned effective September 30, 2016.


Justice Susan Charlesworth received both her B.Sc. in mathematics and her LL.B. from Queen’s University. She articled with O’Hara, Cromwell and Wilkin in Kingston before joining the criminal practice of the Honourable T.G. O’Hara, who was later appointed to the judiciary. In addition to practising criminal law, Justice Charlesworth also represented children in Children’s Aid Society matters and supported mental health clients and inmates at administrative hearings. In 1996, Justice Charlesworth joined Queen’s University Legal Aid, supervising law students providing much-needed legal services to people in the Kingston area. Under her guidance, hundreds of law graduates have learned valuable ethical and professional lessons in a practical setting.

Between 2013 and 2015, Justice Charlesworth and her husband, David, lived in Iqaluit, where she was criminal defence counsel at Maliganik Tukisiniarvik Legal Services. During this time, they came to appreciate the beauty of the land and the character of the people of Nunavut.

In her free time, Justice Charlesworth is active in her community. She is the president of the recreational hockey league in which she has played for 20 years. She has also served in various roles on the board of the Independent Living Centre in Kingston for 10 years, including as treasurer. As the current chair of St. Andrew’s-by-the-Lake United Church Council, she has adapted a United Church hymn for her new circumstances: “What does the World require of you? What does the World require of you? To seek justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly on the Land.”

Justice Charlesworth and her husband are the proud parents of three children.

Justice Christian Lyons was born and raised in Ontario. He holds an LL.B. from Queen’s University and a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Toronto. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 2003, the Nunavut Bar in 2006, and the Northwest Territories Bar in 2014.

Justice Lyons began his career as criminal duty counsel at the Scarborough Courthouse. In 2006, he accepted a position with the Maliganik Tukisiniarvik legal aid clinic and moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut. There he represented Nunavummiut – residents of Nunavut – and appeared before the Nunavut Court of Justice in communities across the territory. He was appointed senior counsel with Maliganik Tukisiniarvik in 2010, and worked in that capacity until 2014. He then joined the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) in the Nunavut Regional Office.

At the PPSC, Justice Lyons first worked as a front-line prosecutor, travelling extensively on court circuits throughout Nunavut. He later assumed leadership and management roles, including that of senior counsel and general counsel, Legal Operations. He was active on PPSC national committees dealing with current legal topics. He also met regularly with the Legal Services Board of Nunavut, the Nunavut Court of Justice, and other Nunavut stakeholders to discuss administration of justice issues and potential improvements.

During his 12 years working and living in Nunavut, both as defence counsel and as a prosecutor, Justice Lyons has learned much about Inuit culture and traditional values. In his life outside the legal profession, Justice Lyons enjoys community life in Iqaluit, being on the land, camping, hiking, kite-skiing, and kite-surfing.

Excerpts from Justice Lyons’ judicial application are available.

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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