The Honourable Veronica Jackson’s Questionnaire


Under the new judicial application process introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for federal judicial appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister of Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire may be made available to the public, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench. The information is published as it was submitted by the candidates at the time they applied, subject to editing where necessary for privacy reasons.

Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable Veronica Jackson.

Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment


Part 5 – Language

Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below, you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.

Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:

  • English: Yes
  • French: Yes

Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in: 

  • English: Yes
  • French: Yes

Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in: 

  • English: Yes
  • French: No

Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in: 

  • English: Yes
  • French: No

Part 6 – Education

Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained: 

  • York University, Osgoode Hall Law School, 2007 - 2010, LL.M. (2010)
  • University of Alberta, Faculty of Law, 1990 -1992 (transferred from the University of Manitoba after first year), LL.B. (1992)
  • Université de Sherbrooke and Dalhousie University, Summer 1991, Common Law / Droit Civil Exchange Program
  • University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law, 1989 -1990 (completed first year and then transferred to the University of Alberta)
  • University of Manitoba, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Education, 1987-1989

Continuing Education:

  • Negotiation Techniques (2017)
  • Standard of Review on Appeals and Judicial Reviews, BC Courthouse Library (2016)
  • Coaching Approach to Conversations, BC Public Service Agency (2015)
  • Interpretation of Bilingual Legal Documents, Law Society of Manitoba (2013)  
  • Investigating Harassment Complaints, Lancaster House, Toronto (2005)
  • Conduct of Arbitration Proceedings, British Columbia Arbitration and Mediation Institute, Vancouver (2003)

Honours and Awards:

  • Pro Bono Award (“Recognizing outstanding contributions to Pro Bono work in Manitoba”): Manitoba Bar Association, 2007
  • Council Member Award (“Honouring a member of Council whose contribution to the Association and its goals is particularly noteworthy”): Manitoba Bar Association, 2007
  • YM/YWCA Women of Distinction Award Nominee, Business and the Professions Category, 2006
  • Equality Award (“For outstanding contribution towards the promotion of equality in the legal profession”): Manitoba Bar Association, 2001
  • University of Alberta, Inter-provincial Pipeline Award Scholarship, 1991
  • University of Alberta, Gale Cup Team, 1990

Part 7 – Professional and Employment History

Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.

Legal Work Experience:

  • Senior Legal Counsel, Revenue and Taxation Group, Legal Services Branch, BC Ministry of Attorney General
    March 2013-present: tax litigation, constitutional litigation and charitable trusts
  • Senior Legal Counsel, Constitutional and Administrative Law Group, Legal Services Branch, BC Ministry of Attorney General
    July 2007-March 2013: administrative litigation (judicial reviews, statutory appeals) and constitutional litigation (including division of powers and Charter claims, in both the civil and criminal law contexts)
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
    LAW 360: Legal Ethics and Professionalism 
  • Partner (Associate 2002-2004), Gange Goodman & French (now Gange Collins & Holloway) (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
    2002-2007: civil litigation and administrative law
  • Panel Member, Youth Drug Stabilization Unit Review Panel, Manitoba (2006-2007, ad hoc)
  • Counsel Panel, Victim Witness Assistance Program (Counsel for complainants in third party record applications) (1999-2007, ad hoc)
  • Associate, Scurfield Tapper Cuddy (now Tapper Cuddy) (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
  • Crown Prosecutor, Justice Manitoba (Criminal Prosecutions)
    Between 1993 and 1998 (Articling Student, 1992-1993)
  • Researcher, Treaty and Aboriginal Rights Research Centre
    Summer 1990

Non-Legal Work Experience:

  • Government of Canada: Student Youth Employment Centre 
    Summers: 1988-1990
    Student Youth Employment Counselor
  • Le Château Stores of Canada (Winnipeg and Saskatoon)
    Various positions beginning as a cashier and then moving on to become Head of Cash and Systems (for all of Winnipeg), Assistant Store Manager and Store Manager
  • Various part-time employment throughout high school

Other Professional Experience:

List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.

Law Society of British Columbia:

  • 2007-2018: Member
  • 2017, 2018: Complainants' Review Committee (appointed member)

Law Society of Manitoba:

  • 1993-2013: Member
  • 2006-2007: Discipline Committee (appointed member)
  • 2004-2005: Complaints Investigation Committee (appointed member)
  • 2002-2004: Reimbursement Claims Fund Committee (appointed member)
  • 2001: Practice and Ethics Committee (appointed member)
  • 2000: Professional Liability Claims Fund Committee (appointed member)
  • 1999: Competence Committee (appointed member)

Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of British Columbia:

  • 2010-2013: Professional Standards Committee (co-chair)
  • 2007-2010: Professional Standards Committee (member)
  • 2015-present: LSB Lawyers Association (Vice-President, Board of Directors)  
  • 2009-2015: LSB Lawyers Association (Membership Chair, Board of Directors)  
  • 2007-present: LSB Lawyers Association (Member)
  • 2010-2012: LSB Education Committee (Member)
  • 2009-2012: LSB Professional Development Committee (Member)

Canadian Bar Association:

  • 1992-present: Member
  • 2017-2018: Chair, National Constitutional and Human Rights Law Section
  • 2015-2017: Vice-Chair, National Constitutional and Human Rights Law Section
  • 2013-2015: Treasurer, National Constitutional and Human Rights Law Section
  • 2011-2013: Secretary, National Constitutional and Human Rights Law Section
  • 2006-2018: Executive Member, National Constitutional and Human Rights Law Section
  • 2005-2006: National Board of Directors
  • 2013-present: Member, National Taxation Law Section
  • 2005-2009: Vice-Chair, National Legal Aid Liaison Committee
  • 2004-2006: Member, President’s Futures Committee
  • 2009-2011: Past-Chair, National Women Lawyers Forum
  • 2007-2009: Chair, National Women Lawyers Forum
  • 2006-2007: Vice-Chair, National Women Lawyers Forum
  • 2005-2006: Secretary, National Women Lawyer Forum
  • 2006-2007: Member, National Strategic Planning Committee
  • 2000-2003: Executive Member, National Administrative Law Section
  • 1996-1998 and 2002:  Member, National Standing Committee on Equality

British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association (Provincial):

  • 2007-present: Member
  • 2013-present: Member, Taxation Law Section
  • 2011-2014: Co-Chair, Constitutional and Civil Liberties Section
  • 2007-present: Member, Constitutional and Civil Liberties Section
  • 2007-present: Member, Administrative Law Section
  • 2007-present: Member, Women Lawyers Forum
  • 2009-2012: Member, Planning and Priorities Advisory Committee

Manitoba Bar Association (Provincial):

  • 1992-2007: Member
  • 2006-2007:  Founding President, Women Lawyers Forum (Manitoba)
  • 2006-2007: Chair, Constitutional and Human Rights Section
  • 2005-2006: Past-President
  • 2004-2005: President
  • 2003-2004: Vice-President
  • 2002-2003: Chair, Membership and Member Services
  • 2000-2002: Chair, Mid-Winter Conference Organizing Committee
  • 2002-2006: Elected Member of Branch Council
  • 2002-2003: Chair, Equality Issues Section
  • 2000-2003: Chair, Administrative Law Section
  • 1996-1998: Chair, Equality Issues Section

Victoria Bar Association:

  • 2008-2010: Director

Pro Bono Activities:

  • Pro Bono Legal Counsel to Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba (2005-2007)
  • Member, Ad hoc Manitoba Provincial Court Judge Nominating Committee (2004-2005)
  • Member, National Legal Committee, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (L.E.A.F.) (2002-2004)
  • Board of Directors, L.E.A.F. Manitoba Inc. (2000-2004)
  • Community legal presentations to Osborne House (domestic violence shelter for women), Horizons Learning Centre (adult learning of high school education), Winnipeg Child and Family Services, Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre and Gordon Bell High School (Winnipeg) 

Teaching and Continuing Education:

List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a law faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, or the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice).

  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
    Adjunct Professor, LAW 360: Legal Ethics and Professionalism (2014-2018)
  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
    Faculty Mooting Program: Coach, Gale Cup Team (2010-2018)
  • Justice Education Society of British Columbia, Victoria
    Presenter, Mapping Her Path Conference (2016)
  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
    Guest Lecturer, Legal Ethics and Professionalism (2013)
  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law,
    Appeal Law Journal: External reviewer (2013-2015)
  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
    1st year mooting program: Volunteer judge (2008-2018)
  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
    Faculty Mooting Program: Assistant Coach, Wilson Moot Team (2008-2009)
  • University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
    Law Student Mentorship Program: Mentor (2007-2012)
  • Canadian Bar Association (BC)
    Women Lawyers Forum Mentorship Program: Mentor (2016-2018)
  • BC Ministry of Justice
    Articled Student Program: Principal (2017-2018)

Ministry of Justice, Legal Services Branch Continuing Legal Education Program:

  • Presenter, “Standard of Review in Tax cases” (2017)
  • Presenter, “Legal Ethics for Public Lawyers” (2016)
  • Presenter, “The Supreme Court of Canada's decision in C.N.R. v. McKercher LLP: Why it Matters for Public Lawyers” (2013)
  • Presenter, “The Language of Civil Proceedings in British Columbia” (2012)
  • Presenter, “Rowbotham Proceedings in British Columbia” (2011)

Canadian Bar Association:

  • National Constitutional Law Conference (2007): “25 Years of the Charter: Should We Celebrate or Hold A Wake?” (Panel Moderator)
  • National Administrative Law Conference (2005): “War of the Worlds: Natural Justice and Academic Independence” (Presenter)
  • National Administrative Law Conference (2001): “Keeping an Eye Out: Charter Issues in Administrative Law” (Presenter)
  • Second Annual Crown Defence Conference (2003): “Third Party Records Applications” (Presenter)

Manitoba Bar Association:

  • Practice Management for Young Lawyers (2005) (Presenter)

Law Society of Manitoba:

  • Expert Evidence and Solicitor-Client Privilege (2002) (CLE presenter)
  • Professional Ethics and Practice Management, Bar Admission Course (now PLTC) (2006) (Learning Group Facilitator)

University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law:

  • Guest lecturer, Legal Profession and Professional Responsibility (2000)

University of Winnipeg, Faculty of Arts:

  • Guest Lecturer, Women and the Law; Law and Society (1999)

Community and Civic Activities:

List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.


British Columbia:

  • Belfry Theatre:
    • Chair of the Board of Directors (2011-2014)
    • Vice-Chair, Board of Directors (2009-2011)
    • Member, Board of Directors (2007-2014)
  • St. George the Martyr Cadboro Bay, Anglican Church:
    • Bishop's Consultative Team (2016-2017)
    • Warden (2011-2015)
    • Lay Delegate to Diocesan Synod (2015)
    • Deputy Warden (2010-2011)
    • Chancel Guild (President, 2013-2014; Member, 2010-2018)
    • Housing Society, Board of Directors (2008-2013)


  • Prairie Theatre Exchange:
    • Vice-chair, Board of Directors (2006-2007)
    • Member, Board of Directors (2004-2007)
  • St. George’s Crescentwood Anglican Church:
    • Chair, Parish Council (2006-2007)
    • Lay Delegate to Diocesan Synod (2006-2007)
    • Honourary Counsel (2004-2007)
    • Sunday School Teacher (1996-1998)
  • Kidney Foundation of Canada (MB):
    • Vice-President, Board of Directors (1999-2002)

Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre, Board of Directors (1997-1999; Chair 1999)

Richmond Kings Nursery School, Board of Directors (1997-1998), Charity Auctioneer (1998-2002)

Manitoba Heart and Stroke Foundation, Door to door canvass volunteer (1993-1996)

Volunteer activities in support of the Manitoba Multiple Sclerosis Society

Part 11 – The Role of the Judiciary in Canada’s Legal System

The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada’s legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.

1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?

As the list of my reported cases reflects, over the course of my legal career I have been involved in many different types of cases. I have been a crown prosecutor in cases involving gang crime, domestic violence, breach of trust, and prosecuted all manner of criminal charges from mischief to murder. I have defended the rights of individuals charged with serious crimes and who were facing the potential of lengthy prison sentences if convicted. I have been counsel in many high-profile cases where significant legal rights were involved. I have been involved in many civil cases where the commercial interests at stake were very high, and I have been counsel to the vulnerable in cases involving deeply personal and intimate matters. I have argued many constitutional and other public law cases that had the potential to, and at times did, have a significant impact on government and the public.

I am grateful for the variety of opportunities I have had over the course of my legal career, and I am proud of my accomplishments. However, while I do not want to diminish the importance of the role of legal counsel in the pursuit of justice, in my view it is secondary to the role of the parties themselves. It is the parties who elect to pursue a course of action or defend their rights or interests, which often takes courage, and it is the parties who bear the risk in doing so. The lawyer's role, although important, is merely supportive. For that reason, it does not seem right for me to offer any particular case where I have been counsel as being my most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada. I believe my most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada lies within something of a different nature.

The Provincial Court Act of Manitoba requires the provincial Minister of Justice to advise the Chief Judge when there will be an appointment to the Provincial Court. Upon such notice, the Chief Judge convenes and chairs a judicial nominating committee, not unlike the Judicial Advisory Committee on which each of you are serving. It is the responsibility of the judicial nominating committee to recommend to the Attorney General a list of not fewer than three and no more than six names of individuals for each position to be appointed. Appointments to the Provincial Court are made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council but the appointment must be made from the list prepared by the judicial nominating committee. I had the privilege of participating in the work of three judicial nominating committees as the representative of the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Bar Association and it is my role in that work which I consider to be my most significant contribution. 

Throughout the period during which I served on these judicial nominating committees, Manitoba's Provincial Court did not reflect the diversity of the communities it served. The judges of that Court were respected jurists but the collective complement of the Court was overwhelmingly white and male. For many years there was only one judge of colour (Judge Ray Harris) and one indigenous judge (Judge Murray Sinclair, later Mr. Justice Sinclair and now Senator Sinclair). The number of women judges on that Court had increased but was still low.

I believe that judicial diversity fosters a responsive and effective justice system. A judiciary that reflects the diversity inherent in the population supports a justice system that is, and that is perceived to be, fair and equitable in its treatment of all people and the decisions it renders. The inclusion of a variety of life experiences and perspectives within the composition of the judiciary in turn broadens the lens through which the court as an institution can and will adjudicate and administer justice. It expands the court's collective understanding beyond what is otherwise a singular view of the world. Recognition of the importance of judicial diversity on federally appointed courts is evidenced by the inclusion of diversity as a factor in the federal judicial appointment process. I welcome and applaud that recognition.

The lists submitted by the judicial nominating committees on which I served led to a significant increase in the diversity of the Manitoba Provincial Court bench. This included the appointment of the first openly gay judge, the first judge of East Indian heritage and an increase both in the number of women and indigenous judges on that Court. I am extremely proud to have been a part of that process and I believe that to have been my most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada to date.

2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?

My insight into the variety and diversity of the people that are Canada is the product of my family, my personal and professional experiences and my genuine interest in and about my fellow human beings.

My family has its roots in rural New Brunswick where I was born. My parents moved to Winnipeg when I was very young and divorced shortly thereafter. I maintained a close connection with extended family who had remained in New Brunswick and spent summers with them throughout my childhood. I was raised primarily by my mother - a strong and independent woman who raised me to value those traits. When I was in my early teens both of my parents began long-term inter-racial relationships. My mother's common-law partner was an African-American man from the southern United States who taught me about the poverty and discrimination in which he had grown up. My stepmother had grown up in poverty in Jamaica and had a daughter of her own. She and my father had my brother and we became a “his, hers and theirs” family. When my mother remarried years later, our family grew to include members of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. I grew up immersed in difference - racial, geographic, urban and rural, within a family constellation that at the time was unconventional, but was very familiar and comfortable for me. Like many families, ours has been touched by addiction, depression and suicide.

As a child, I did not feel poor. There was always food and my mother and I always had a place to live. But looking back after I had grown up, I realized my mother had struggled financially. We lived in what I later understood was low-income housing. There was no extra money for a lot of extra-curricular activities and no big vacations. My father was, for the most part, absent. My early experiences led me to become quite independent. I've worked steadily since I was 14 and moved out on my own when I was 17. I worked for four years before I went to university and then worked my way through law school. I've had jobs I loved, and jobs I hated but couldn't afford to quit. The life I have now, the one my children grew up in, is very different. I am grateful for all that I have but also thankful for experiences that were hard and sometimes painful, because they also enriched me and made me who I am. 

I've lived in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and spent extended periods in Nova Scotia and in Quebec studying the civil law system in French. I have traveled extensively in every province and two of the northern territories and experienced culture differences as distinct as the regions themselves, all of which enrich this country. And because I enjoy and am interested in people, I have talked, I have listened, I have watched, and I have learned.

All of these experiences provided me with insight into the diversity within Canada. But it is within the variety of my legal practice that my understanding of the scope of diversity, by which I mean disparity, that exists in Canada crystalized. Through my involvement in the law I moved among the rich and the powerful, but also the poor and the disenfranchised. I've read pre-sentence reports and witness statements that describe worlds I did not know existed and experiences I could not have fathomed. While my life experiences have at times caused me sadness, I've never known true, unending despair, but I know there are people who have. While my family is not perfect, I have always felt cared for and loved. I know that in all these things I am privileged and that I have blessings beyond what some people feel they can hope for or even imagine.

I am a Christian. At the core of my faith is a belief that we are all one human family, that we are all equal and deserving of each other’s love and respect. I strive each day to lead my life in accordance with that belief. I do not claim to know or have insight into the full breadth of the variety of human experience and diversity in Canada - the different lives people have lived and how those experiences have influenced who they are, how they think and what they believe. I only claim to know that such diversity exists and that it is nothing to be afraid of. I continue to seek to learn and understand more about the different experiences Canadians have had, both in the present and in the past, and the impact those experiences had, and continue to have, on them. We are all different, but that difference is a common trait we share.

3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.

The appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy is multi-faceted. A judge is an independent servant of justice and a defender against unlawful government action. The role of a judge is also to be a humble listener, a thoughtful teacher and an arbiter of disputes. A judge encourages respect for the judicial process and the rule of law in all they say and do.

The role of a judge as a servant of justice requires them to be neutral in their consideration and determination of matters before them. This neutrality requires a judge to be independent, free of political or other external pressures that could, in fact or perception, interfere with their objectivity. This independence supports the ability of judges to be fearless in their decision making, which is critical to their role as the ultimate guardians of the constitution and the rule of law. A judge must have the courage and fortitude to make difficult decisions; doing so is a prerequisite for achieving justice and fostering and maintaining respect for the legal system.

The ever-changing nature of our world means that law must respond to and answer a continually evolving matrix of situations, questions, needs and interests. The appropriate role of a judge is to analyze, apply and develop the law in a way that allows sufficient flexibility for the future while maintaining certainty for the present. This is intellectually demanding work. A judge should take steps to ensure their ability to fulfil this role is not limited by fear of change, a lack of imagination or a closed mind. 

It is a judge’s role to be alert against overt challenges to the rule of law, but also to guard against the quiet enemies of justice, such as bias, discrimination and ignorance. To fulfil their role of serving and delivering justice, a judge must listen with an open mind and be humble enough to constantly remember there are things they do not know, ideas they have not considered and perspectives they have not experienced.

In order for the law to fulfil its function of guiding societal behaviour it must be understood. Judges play an important teaching role in fostering that understanding. Each judicial decision involves a determination and application of the law. In a constitutional democracy, the appropriate role of a judge includes the responsibility for conveying their decisions in a way that is transparent and accessible. The ability to communicate the “what” and “why” of judicial reasoning, in a way that distills the complexities of any particular case into words that are easy to understand, is an art form requiring sensitivity, care and attention. Judicial decisions that are concise, logical and accurate, delivered as timely as circumstances reasonably allow, promote respect for, and confidence in, the legal system.

The courtroom is a gateway to justice. Part of the role of a judge in a constitutional democracy is to keep that pathway open. A judge who fosters an accessible courtroom, in which people are (and are made to feel) welcomed and valued as full participants in the justice process, advances access to justice as well as respect for the justice system and the rule of law. People who do not feel at ease may not be able to communicate information that is of critical importance to the just determination of a case. People who are not heard may lose respect for the justice system that is intended to protect and serve them. 

It may sound trite to say that judges are arbiters of disputes, but this aspect of their role is critically important since it delineates both what judges do within a constitutional democracy, and what they do not do. The judiciary is a foundational component of Canada’s constitutional and democratic framework, but not its only pillar. Our constitutional democracy is based on the division of the three branches of government and the supremacy of Parliament. The doctrine of legislative supremacy does not mean the judicial branch is a slave to the legislative branch – far from it. Rather this framework requires a recognition of, and a respect for, the separate roles of each division of government, and an awareness that exceeding those parameters, by any branch, can adversely impact the integrity of our democratic system and the society’s view of the legitimacy of that branch of government, or government as a whole.

Finally, a judge is a symbol of justice and a representative of the judicial process. Judges should convey respect for the office they hold and strive to bring honour to the judicial process by their actions in and outside of the courtroom.

4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?

There is no single audience for judgments rendered by the Supreme Court of British Columbia because there is no single type of case. Rather, there is a multitude of different types of cases that come before the Supreme Court. The audience for any case is a function of its context. Depending on the nature of a case, the audience can include the parties and others with direct involvement in the case, but also groups or organizations, and their members, with less direct but nonetheless significant interests in the issues being adjudicated, as well as governments, other judges and society at large.

In a private civil dispute, the parties are an obvious audience for the Court’s judgment. The parties are typically those who have been most intimately involved in a case, have devoted the most time, energy and often money as it has progressed, and whose immediate interests are often most directly affected by the outcome. In a family case, the audience can include people beyond the named parties themselves, such as children and other family members. 

In matters involving public law, the audience for any judgment by the Supreme Court may be broader since a pronouncement of the Court in the public law context can have implications that extend beyond the factual circumstances of a particular case. For example, a judgment of the Supreme Court might touch on questions involving administrative action or procedure, governmental policy or jurisdiction, or constitutional rights or authority. In such a context, the Court’s judgment may transcend the factual limits of the case itself. Similarly, in the criminal law context, the audience for the Court’s judgment is not limited to the accused and the victim. Since a judgment of the Court in this context may involve systemic questions or issues, others may be impacted, either directly or indirectly, by a particular judgment of the Court, such as the complainant, the Crown and policing agencies. They are all potential audiences for the Court’s judgment. In addition, in some areas of public law, such as those involving indigenous or other constitutional rights, the audience for the Court’s judgment includes organizations that either represent or advocate in support of the individual or collective rights implicated in the Court’s judgment.

In all of these contexts – private and public, civil and criminal - there are others who must be considered as audience for the Court’s judgments. Witnesses, family members of someone involved in a particular case, third parties responsible for implementing or otherwise giving effect to the Court’s orders, and the media, are all audiences for the Court’s judgment. And, if an order of the Supreme Court is appealed, the audience for the judgment will include judges of the Court of Appeal and perhaps the Supreme Court of Canada.

But there is another broader more far-reaching audience for every judgment rendered by a justice of the BC Supreme Court, and that is society at large. A judgment of the Supreme Court is an expression of the Court’s interpretation and application of the law to the circumstances before that judge, but the impact of the judgment can extend beyond the reach of the particular circumstances in which it was determined. The principle of stare decisis means that a judgment of a Supreme Court justice is binding on the Provincial Court of British Columbia and must be applied by a Provincial Court judge in determining an issue the Supreme Court has already decided, and on other justices of the Supreme Court unless certain limited conditions exist. A Supreme Court judgment becomes part of the fabric of the law of British Columbia and is an expression of the standard by which the actions of individuals and governments will be measured and held to account. As part of that body of law, it provides guidance to society at large; it may be studied by academics, applied by governments, and has the potential to influence the development of the law into the future, both in British Columbia and beyond.

Each judgment of the Supreme Court has an audience made up of many components, each with its own internal diversity, differences of viewpoint and perception. In addition, the life and influence of a Supreme Court judgment can extend well into the future and beyond the Province’s borders and will play a role in influencing the public’s respect for the justice system and the rule of law. For all these reasons, a judgment of the Supreme Court must provide certainty of meaning, and yet include enough flexibility to avoid an injustice that may flow from rigidity.

5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.

As my application reflects, I have made four major changes over the course of my legal career, which has spanned two provinces: from crown prosecutor, to private practice, to government constitutional and administrative lawyer, to tax litigator. As a result, I have a significant depth of knowledge in many areas of law. Making such significant changes in areas of practice is uncommon, and it takes courage. But I did not hesitate because I love the law with all its variety, I love to learn and my personal experiences have made me confident that I can master anything I choose. At each stage of my legal career I have excelled. My writing and other communication skills are excellent. I am a creative problem-solver. I have superb analytical skills, sound judgment and I work well and remain calm under pressure. I have consistently balanced heavy workloads successfully and have a superior work ethic. I approach law, and life, with enthusiasm, a sense of humour and a healthy dose of compassion.

For much of my life I was an only child. I developed confidence in my ability to think for myself, and the experience fostered in me the belief that critical thinking was both enjoyable and an inherently valuable pursuit. I became self-reliant at a young age and have remained self-motivated and independent ever since. I have, and show, initiative.

I was raised by a single mother who worked full time. She was, and is, a marvel and has always been my role model. While working and caring for me she earned a masters degree in psychology and then a Ph.D. She instilled in me a love of knowledge, higher education and intellectually demanding pursuits. She sparked in me a passion for new ideas and a thirst for new experiences. She taught me the value of setting goals and impressed on me that achieving them takes hard work, determination and sacrifice. Her example led me to be a person who strives for excellence in all I do.

My father was a good man, but also an alcoholic. From him I learned that people are seldom one thing, that you can love someone and still let them down and that both actions and intentions matter.

After high school, I moved out on my own and worked in the retail industry for four years before going to university. There were times when I couldn’t afford groceries and despaired at my situation. But I always knew I had an emergency backup in my family and that there were alternative paths I had the option to pursue. I’ve met all kinds of people and experienced an incredible variety of cultures, including within my own family, and yet I know that my experiences represent only a fragment of the human experience. I am embarrassed to admit that it was not until my time as a criminal prosecutor that I came to fully realize how truly lucky I had been growing up, and appreciate what a difference a loving parent can make. It was only then that I became aware that there are people who see no end in sight for their despair, people who have never known love, kindness or stability. I am grateful to now have a better understanding of my incredible privilege. I think it has made me a better person and is part of what would make me a good judge.

Through my personal and professional experiences, I’ve come in contact with people from a variety of contexts and cultures. Over the course of my legal career, the collection of people I have worked with - clients, witnesses, other professionals - defy categorization. Delightful, demanding; strong, damaged; sophisticated, scared - I have learned that no-one is just one thing. And I’ve been able to build a personally rewarding and outwardly successful career because of my ability to effectively communicate with all of them. Despite being independent, I enjoy people. I do not shy away from conversations, even difficult ones. I am easy-going and I have the ability to make people feel comfortable because I care, I am a good listener and I value what people have to say. I endeavour to convey my respect for every individual, even those I dislike or with whom I disagree.

All of these experiences, and others, have made me who I am. I am a self-aware, strong and resilient woman. I am patient, but not endlessly so. I am a natural leader, and while I don’t feel the need to always be at the helm I am comfortable taking control when it’s needed. I am open-minded and I value diversity - of people, experience, perspectives and opinions. I continually strive to improve. I value both honesty and honour. I believe all these qualities and experiences well equip me to fulfill the role of a judge. 

6. Given the goal of ensuring that Canadians are able to look at the justices appointed to the bench and see their faces and life experience reflected there, you may, if you choose, provide information about yourself that you feel would assist in this objective.

It is not possible for one person to reflect the faces and life experiences of all Canadians, but I have always agreed it is important for the court as an institution to do so. Women are still underrepresented on the superior courts across the country, including in British Columbia. In that regard, I believe my appointment to the BC Supreme Court would advance the goal of achieving a greater gender balance on the Court.  

Law has continued to be the male dominated profession it was when I entered practice 25 years ago. Over the course of my legal career I have experienced overt discrimination and disrespect because I was a woman, and because I was a mother. I have felt the frustration, the humiliation and the hurt of being excluded because of those characteristics. The experiences of many Canadians have left them feeling similarly excluded. Many people who come before the court have been marginalized and feel vulnerable within the justice process. Each individual needs to know, and feel, that the justice system is accessible to them and is truly theirs. I am the product of a life that has included my struggles, failures, and successes, and other Canadians are the product of theirs. I believe a judge must be aware that differences in people’s experiences exist, be open to them and be able to engage with people in ways that facilitate their access to the legal system and thereby to justice. In order for a judge to reflect the faces and life experiences of the people who appear before them, a judge must really see them. As a judge, I would keep my eyes open.

I have lived my life, personally and professionally, with the goal of advancing equality. My commitment to equality influenced my volunteer work and often my choice of clients. But I have also lived my commitment in other small, silent but nonetheless meaningful ways. It led me to be mindful, inclusive, supportive, to make space, to listen. I have endeavoured over the course of this questionnaire to show the members of the Judicial Advisory Committee who I am, to the extent it is possible to do so in print. This questionnaire describes my background, education, skills and work history. But I hope this questionnaire also conveys that I am a person who values and respects diversity.

Thank you for considering my application. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of myself with each of you. I wish you all well in your ongoing important work.

Search for related information by keyword: Law | Department of Justice Canada | Canada | Justice | general public | backgrounders

Page details

Date modified: