Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Ontario

News release

August 31, 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.

The Honourable Alison Harvison Young, a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario, is appointed a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. She replaces Justice E.E. Gillese, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective January 1, 2017.

The Honourable Barry M. Tobin, 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 and a member of the Family Court in London. He replaces Justice M. McSorley, who resigned effective April 30, 2018.

Judy A. Fowler Byrne, a partner at Miller Thomson LLP, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Brampton. She replaces Justice F. Van Melle, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective November 15, 2017.

Gillian E. Roberts, counsel at the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Toronto. She replaces Justice A.M. Molloy, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 1, 2018.

Nancy L. Dennison, counsel at the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Brampton. She replaces Justice J.M. Fragomeni, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective January 15, 2018.

Suranganie Kumaranayake, counsel at the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Brampton. She replaces Justice D.F. Dawson, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 11, 2018.

Breese Davies, principal at Breese Davies Law, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in and for the Province of Ontario in Toronto. She replaces Justice T.R Lederer, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 9, 2018.


Justice Alison Harvison Young was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2004. At the time of her appointment, she was a Professor and the Dean of the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

After obtaining a B.A. (First Class Honours) from Carleton University, Justice Harvison Young earned both LL.B. and B.C.L. degrees from McGill University Faculty of Law. She served as a law clerk to the Honourable Justice W.Z. Estey at the Supreme Court of Canada and then practised law in Toronto before studying at the University of Oxford, where she obtained a B.C.L. degree in 1988.

Justice Harvison Young was a member of the Faculty of Law of McGill University from 1988-1998, during which period she taught subjects in various areas of public, private and family law. She was an active member of the faculty, serving on many faculty and university committees. She also served as Associate Dean (Academic) from 1993-1995. She published widely in areas including administrative law, family law, and regulatory issues with respect to new reproductive technologies.

Since her appointment to the bench, Justice Harvison Young, who is bilingual, has heard and written in a wide range of areas including civil, criminal and commercial matters, as well as administrative and family law. She has continued to pursue her interests in teaching, mentoring, and writing, through numerous court, university, and professional programs.

In her spare time, Justice Harvison Young tries to fend off the effects of a sedentary working life by cycling, hiking and gardening. She also enjoys spending as much time as possible with her friends and family, including a growing number of grandchildren and pets.

Justice Barry M. Tobin received his B.A. from Dalhousie University in 1974 and his LL.B. from the University of Ottawa in 1977. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1979. Prior to being appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2009, he practised in London, where he was a partner with the firm Marcus Tobin until 2002, and then with Brown Beattie O’Donovan, practising mainly in the area of family law, including mediation and arbitration. While in private practice, he appeared in all levels of court in Ontario. He acted as an agent for the Children’s Lawyer representing children in child protection cases and in custody and access disputes. As an active member of his community, Justice Tobin volunteered with organizations dedicated to helping children and their families. 

As a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, he sat in Windsor, where he dealt primarily with family law cases and served on the Family Rules Committee. Justice Tobin also had the privilege of serving as a member of the Family Justice Working Group of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. In addition, he frequently wrote and presented on various family law topics at legal education programs for the bench, bar and law students. He is a co-author of McLeod’s Ontario Family Law Rules Annotated.

Excerpts from Justice Tobin's judicial application are available.

Justice Judy A. Fowler Byrne was born in Toronto to a family with strong Newfoundland roots. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and her law degree at the University of Western Ontario. She practised several years with Landy Marr and Associates in Toronto before eventually settling in Guelph, Ontario, which she now calls home. After spending several years in the golf business, she joined the southwestern Ontario offices of Miller Thomson LLP, where she maintained a litigation practice focusing on family law, estate litigation and commercial disputes. In addition to her practice, she was a trustee with the Waterloo Region Law Association, has assisted The Advocates’ Society in providing legal education in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and has led local continuing legal education in the areas of family law and estate litigation.

Throughout her professional career, Justice Fowler Byrne has maintained a strong commitment to the community. She has been a board member of the St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation in Guelph. She sat on the board of the Canadian Society for Mucopolysaccharidosis & Related Diseases, which supports families whose children are affected by rare and devastating genetic diseases. She has also worked with the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, advocating for those affected by rare and ultra-rare diseases. She has worked with her local Heart & Stroke Foundation and served on the Parent Involvement Committee for the Wellington Catholic District School Board.

In her free time, Justice Fowler Byrne enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and three children.

Justice Gillian E. Roberts was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the middle of three girls close in age. She did her undergraduate degree at Trinity College, at the University of Toronto, took a year off to work and travel, and then returned for law school, graduating in 1993. Since being called to the bar in 1995, she has worked as counsel at the Ontario Attorney General’s Crown Law Office – Criminal, where she has prosecuted cases at every level of court. She has argued numerous appeals in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, including many complex and high-profile murder appeals and appeals raising difficult and important constitutional issues.

Justice Roberts is deeply committed to education. She has served as an advocacy advisor to the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute (providing free advocacy advice to counsel with upcoming appeals in the Supreme Court of Canada), taught trial advocacy at Osgoode Hall Law School, and lectured on various topics to justice participants and students. She previously ran an annual Crown school course on expert evidence, managed the summer student program at the Crown Law Office, and coached the Osgoode Hall Gale Cup mooting team.

Justice Roberts is the proud mother of two boys. She was very involved in their elementary school, the Jackman Institute for Child Study, and coached both of their soccer teams until they took up baseball instead. She has been a board member at the Adoption Council of Ontario, and at her neighborhood hockey rink.

Excerpts from Justice Roberts’ judicial application are available.

Justice Nancy L. Dennison received her B.A. from Western University and her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School. Justice Dennison articled at the Ontario Attorney General’s Crown Law Office – Criminal. Upon being called to the bar in 1997, she worked briefly as a Crown attorney in Newmarket and Etobicoke before joining the Federal Prosecution Service. As federal Crown counsel, she prosecuted drug and tax fraud offences and argued criminal appeals. In 2006, she became senior counsel at the Department of Justice. Her practice focused on extradition law, mutual legal assistance law and constitutional law. In 2017, she returned to the Crown Law Office – Criminal, where her practice focused on criminal appeals and search and seizure law.

Justice Dennison has appeared at all levels of court, including the Ontario Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada. She has written academic articles on mutual legal assistance and co-authored a book on extradition law. She regularly contributed to continuing legal education programs, speaking to Crown counsel, police agencies and at the Advocates’ Society. She has been a dedicated mentor to younger lawyers and students throughout her career.

Justice Dennison was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario. From her parents she inherited a strong work ethic and commitment to giving back to the community. Justice Dennison resides in Toronto with her husband and two sons. She volunteers at her sons’ school and co-manages her sons’ competitive hockey and baseball teams.

Excerpts from Justice Dennison’s judicial application are available.

Justice Suranganie Kumaranayake holds a B.A. (Honours) in psychology and sociology from Queen’s University, an LL.B. from the University of Windsor, and a Certificate in Mental Health from Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development.

Prior to her appointment, Justice Kumaranayake practised exclusively in child protection for close to 16 years, initially as legal counsel with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. In December 2003, she joined the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton as legal counsel. Prior to entering the field of child protection, she worked as Staff Criminal Duty Counsel. In this role, she appeared in several courthouses throughout Toronto, as well as in the specialized court programs at Old City Hall: the Toronto Drug Treatment Court, Mental Health Court, Integrated Domestic Violence Court, and Gladue Court.

Justice Kumaranayake completed her articles in civil litigation with Fellowes, McNeil. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in 1997, she interned as a legal researcher in Namibia. After completing this internship, she joined Fellowes, McNeil as an associate.

As an undergraduate and law student, she was involved in a variety of activities, including volunteering as a prison literacy tutor, peer health counsellor, and Community Legal Aid caseworker. Prior to law school, she spent a summer working in the Victim/Witness Assistance Program at the Scarborough courthouse. She also spent her summers during law school working for the Ontario Legal Aid Plan.

Justice Kumaranayake immigrated to Canada as a child with her parents and siblings, having first lived in Sri Lanka and England. She grew up in Ottawa and Burlington. She learned the value of a strong work ethic and compassion from the example set by her parents. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, family and friends while supporting and encouraging her daughter in her various interests.

Justice Breese Davies received her B.A., LL.B. and M.A. in criminology from the University of Toronto and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2000. Prior to her appointment, she practised in the areas of criminal law, constitutional law and professional regulation in Toronto.

Justice Davies’ trial practice focused mainly on complex criminal matters, including national security, homicide and sexual assault cases. She often acted pro bono for public interest organizations before the Supreme Court of Canada and served as duty counsel for unrepresented appellants in criminal matters before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Justice Davies was counsel in several prominent public inquiries and inquests. She was involved in the Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in relation to Maher Arar, which examined national security investigations and information sharing among intelligence agencies. She was also counsel for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies at the Inquest into the Death of Ashley Smith, which examined how the Correctional Service of Canada treats individuals with significant mental health challenges.

Throughout her career, Justice Davies has been dedicated to legal education. She was an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. In 2017, Justice Davies was the Constitutional Litigator in Residence with the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights.

Justice Davies was a vice-president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association for five years. In that role, she worked on initiatives to retain women in the private practice of criminal law and to improve diversity in the criminal bar. In 2017, she received the Laura Legge Award, presented by the Law Society of Upper Canada to recognize women lawyers who have exemplified leadership in the profession.

In her spare time, Justice Davies is completing a culinary arts diploma from George Brown College. She is also willing to take on just about any physical challenge. She is an avid canoe tripper, has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and has run the Cabot Trail Relay several times. Currently, she is training for her first 70.3 triathlon.

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 will provide funding of $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 provided 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. 

  • In addition, the Government will invest $6 million over two years, beginning in 2018-2019, to support the judicial discipline process through which allegations of judicial misconduct are investigated. In this way, 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. 

  • 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:

Célia Canon
Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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