Government of Canada announces judicial appointment in the province of British Columbia

News release

May 6, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable David Lametti, 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.

The Honourable M. Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, is appointed a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia and a Judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal of Yukon. Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten replaces Mr. Justice S.D. Frankel (Vancouver), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 1, 2019.

Biography

Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten spent most of her childhood in a small rural community in northern British Columbia. She worked in a family business with her siblings and entrepreneurial parents, who immigrated to Canada from Holland in the 1950s. She left to go to school in Edmonton, graduating from the University of Alberta with a law degree in 1991. After graduation, she clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada and then moved back west, joining the British Columbia Prosecution Service in 1994.  She worked as a trial prosecutor and an appellate prosecutor and led a specialized unit focused on Charter litigation. In 2012, she was appointed Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the BC Prosecution Service. She held that position until her appointment to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in October 2016.

As a lawyer, Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten was designated Queen’s Counsel in 2010. In 2012, she received the Canadian Bar Association (B.C. Branch) Georges A. Goyer Q.C. Memorial Award for her contributions to the legal profession.

Over her career, she has been active in legal education. In the early 2000s, she taught criminal procedure at the University of Victoria. She is currently co-chair of the National Criminal Law Program, Federation of Law Societies of Canada, as well as co-chair of a

course in Charter litigation with the National Judicial Institute. From about 2007 to her judicial appointment, she was co-editor of the Working Manual of Criminal Law.

Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten is married with a 22-year-old daughter who makes her laugh and keeps her grounded.

Quick facts

  • At the Superior Court level, more than 300 judges have been appointed since November 2015. These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada. Of these judges, more than half are women, and appointments reflect an increased representation of visible minorities, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S and those who self-identify as having 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:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-6568
rachel.rappaport@justice.gc.ca

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


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