Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Saskatchewan

News release

September 21, 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 Robert Leurer, a judge of Her Majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, is appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan. He replaces Justice M.J. Herauf, who elected to resign effective August 31, 2018.

Graeme Mitchell, Q.C., Vice-Chair of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board, is appointed a judge of Her Majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan in Regina. He replaces Justice R. Leurer, who has been appointed to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Biographies

Prior to his appointment to the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan in November 2017, Justice Robert Leurer was a litigator whose practice focused on product liability and class actions. His work extended widely to commercial, insurance, personal injury, privacy, constitutional and administrative law. While in practice, he argued cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, and courts throughout Western Canada.

Justice Leurer obtained his law degree in 1984 from the University of Saskatchewan, where he was the Law Society of Saskatchewan Gold Medalist. Upon graduating, he clerked for Justice W.Z. Estey of the Supreme Court of Canada and was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in 1986. That same year, he joined MLT Aikins (as the firm is now known), where he was a partner until his judicial appointment.

Justice Leurer has served as President of the Canadian Bar Association, Saskatchewan Branch, and as Regional Chair for the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute. He was a member of the Canadian Bar Association National Class Actions Task Force and the Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies. He has been a frequent lecturer at national and regional legal conferences. In recognition of his many contributions to the legal community, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel for Saskatchewan in 2003 and was named a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, among other awards.

Aside from his professional commitments, Justice Leurer has also been actively involved in his community, serving on the Luther College (Regina) Board of Regents and as a director of the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club.

Justice Graeme Mitchell was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in 1985. He served as Crown counsel and then as Director of the Constitutional Law Branch of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice until his appointment as Vice-Chair of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board in March 2016. In addition to an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall and an LL.M. from the University of Chicago, he holds bachelor’s degrees in both arts and music from the University of Regina.

Justice Mitchell has practised and published extensively in the areas of administrative, constitutional, criminal, labour, and human rights law. He has represented the Attorney General for Saskatchewan before all levels of Saskatchewan courts, the Alberta Court of Appeal, the Federal Court of Canada and in over 40 appeals at the Supreme Court, including many ground-breaking constitutional cases.

He has also taught constitutional law at various law schools. In 2009, he served as a Visiting International Advocate in Residence at Valparaiso University Law School in Indiana. In addition, he has taught classes on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to judges through the National Judicial Institute.

Justice Mitchell has been very active in professional development, and has served in various positions with the Law Society of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Bar Association. For close to 30 years, he has provided an annual update on Charter and criminal cases to the Criminal Law Section of the CBA (Saskatchewan). In 2014, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the CBA (Saskatchewan). He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1998.

Outside of his legal practice, Justice Mitchell is an accomplished flautist and singer, and he performs regularly as both a soloist and chorister. A proud member of the LBGTQ2S community, he was a founding member of the LGBT+ Network of the Government of Saskatchewan and regularly supports charitable LGBTQ2S organizations, such as Casey House Foundation in Toronto.

Justice Mitchell resides in Regina with his spouse, Bill Sgrazzutti, and is the very proud stepfather to his spouse’s two remarkable adult sons. 

Quick facts

  • Since taking office, the Minister of Justice has made over 200 judicial appointments, including 100 in 2017 – the most a Minister of Justice has made in one year in at least two decades. Of the individuals appointed, over half are women, eight are Indigenous, 18 have self-identified as a member of a visible minority population, 12 identify as LGBTQ2, and three identify as 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.

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Célia Canon
Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
613-862-3270

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


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