Government of Canada announces judicial appointment in the Yukon Territory 

News release

November 30, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment under the new judicial application process introduced 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.

Suzanne Duncan, legal counsel with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Yukon. She replaces Justice L.F. Gower, who passed away on October 29, 2018.


Justice Suzanne Duncan holds a B.A. (1982) and an LL.B. (1985) from Queen’s University, as well as an LL.M. (2000) from Osgoode Hall Law School. She began her legal career as an associate and then partner with McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto. During this time, she handled a range of labour law and civil litigation matters, and also developed an immigration practice, including representing refugee claimants on a pro bono basis. In 2001, she joined the federal Department of Justice in Toronto, before transferring to Whitehorse in 2006. Throughout her time in practice in the Yukon, Justice Duncan gained extensive litigation experience before the Yukon courts, with a focus on Aboriginal law and Crown liability.

In early 2018, Justice Duncan became the in-house legal counsel for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation government. Working for a self-governing First Nation increased her knowledge of and respect for the unique Yukon First Nation final agreements, and allowed her to participate in the exciting challenges and opportunities of implementing the agreements.  The privilege of gaining a greater understanding of the experiences and culture of a Yukon First Nation and assisting in their creative journey towards self-determination has been a highlight of her career to date.

Justice Duncan has served on the Executive of the Law Society of Yukon, as First Vice President and Chair of Discipline. She has been a member and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Yukon Legal Services Society, working to improve access to justice for people of modest means in the Yukon. In 2018, she was appointed Chair of the Yukon Employment Standards Board, which hears appeals and provides recommendations on the minimum wage amount in the Yukon. Justice Duncan previously served on the board of the Homes First Society, an agency in Toronto that provides stable shelter and support to individuals who are among the hardest to house. She is also a co-author of the book The Law of Privilege in Canada. 

Quick facts

  • Since taking office, the Minister of Justice has made over 230 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, 20 identify as visible minorities, 13 identify as LGBTQ2, and three identify as persons with disabilities.

  • 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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