Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Ontario

News release

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Ontario

March 3, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada

The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments under the judicial application process established in 2016. This process emphasizes transparency, merit, and the diversity of the Canadian population, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

The Honourable John Alexander Finlayson, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, Family Court Branch. Mr. Justice Finlayson replaces Mr. Justice A.R. Rowsell (Oshawa), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective November 23, 2020.

The Honourable Rita-Jean Maxwell, a Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Maxwell replaces Mr. Justice M.G. Quigley (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 14, 2020.

Janet E. Mills, Case Management Master at the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Mills replaces Mr. Justice R.J. Harper (Brantford), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective November 1, 2018. The Chief Justice has transferred Mr. Justice D. Broad (Kitchener) into this vacancy and Mr. Justice M. Gibson (Milton) into the vacancy of Justice Broad. The vacancy is therefore located in Milton.

Marie-Andrée Vermette, Partner at WeirFoulds LLP in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Vermette replaces Mr. Justice P.M. Perell (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective May 5, 2020.


“I wish Justices Finlayson, Maxwell, Mills and Vermette every success as they take on their new roles. I am confident they will serve Ontarians well as members of the Superior Court of Justice.”

—The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada


Justice John Alexander Finlayson graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2001 and was called to the bar in 2002.

Mr. Justice Finlayson practised family law for 15 years and was active in various legal organizations and a frequent contributor to continuing legal education programs. In July 2017, he was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice. Since that time, he has presided over family law, child protection, and youth criminal justice matters in downtown Toronto.

Justice Finlayson served as a member of the Ontario Court of Justice’s local education committee, which organizes continuing legal education programs for members of the family law bar. He presented at several conferences to both judges and lawyers about family law, evidence and procedure, and he volunteered annually as a judge for the Walsh Negotiation Moot. In May 2019, he became co-chair of family law education for judges of the Ontario Court of Justice. In that capacity, he was also a member of the Court’s Education Secretariat and served on the board of the Association of Ontario Judges.

Justice Rita-Jean Maxwell was raised in a small town in northern New Brunswick by her Ghanaian father and Irish-Acadian mother. She is one of five daughters. She received her B.A. from Harvard University, her J.D. from the University of Toronto, and her LL.M from Georgetown Law School. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002.

After beginning her career in civil litigation at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Madam Justice Maxwell became an assistant Crown attorney conducting criminal prosecutions in Toronto. Her belief in the justice system’s capacity to deliver justice fairly and equitably to all led to her graduate work with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project on a successful review of a wrongful conviction and to her role as a Visiting Professional at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Before her appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2017, she served as Legal Counsel to the Court of Appeal for Ontario from 2015 to 2017.

Justice Maxwell is strongly committed to legal education, teaching at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, Ryerson Law School, and numerous continuing legal education programs. She proudly contributes to increasing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession through her engagement with the LAWS Program, the Roundtable on Diversity, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, and the University of Toronto Future Black Lawyers Program, among others.

Justice Maxwell and her husband, Oliver, live in Toronto and love seeing the world through the eyes of their irrepressible son, Briar.

Justice Janet E. Mills received her JD from the University of Ottawa in 1991 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1993. She received her mediator accreditation from the Harvard Negotiation Institute and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. She has written and spoken extensively on domestic and international commercial arbitration.

Madam Justice Mills has spent her career in the field of dispute resolution, first as a lawyer in the Global Disputes Resolution Group with Baker & McKenzie LLP, where she specialized in international commercial arbitration, corporate/commercial litigation, domestic and cross-border bankruptcy and insolvency, global business risk management, and the defence of class-action proceedings. She appeared before all levels of court in Ontario, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She was a founding member of Bay Street Chambers, a private dispute resolution group, where she continued her practice from the other side of the table as a mediator and arbitrator. Justice Mills was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice as a Case Management Master in 2008, where she and continued to use her extensive skills and training to assist litigants with the timely and effective resolution of civil, commercial and bankruptcy matters.

Justice Mills is married and the proud mother of one son and three stepsons. She is also a grandmother to five adorable girls.

Justice Marie-Andrée Vermette received her Bachelor of Civil Law and Common Law degrees from the Faculty of Law at McGill University and was the recipient of the Elizabeth Torrance Gold Medal. In 2001, she received a Master of Laws from Columbia University, where she earned the distinction of being named a James Kent Scholar. She was called to the Quebec Bar in 1998 and to the Ontario Bar in 2001.

Prior to her appointment, Madam Justice Vermette was a partner with WeirFoulds LLP in Toronto, where she practised civil, commercial and public law litigation for almost 20 years. She was Chair of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group. Before joining WeirFoulds LLP, she had worked briefly with the Department of Justice Canada in the area of criminal law and served as law clerk to the Honourable Mr. Justice Gonthier at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Justice Vermette has been involved in the legal community and the Franco-Ontarian community for several years. Prior to her appointment, she was Vice-President of the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario, a member of the Board of Governors of the Université de l’Ontario français, and a member of the boards of Avocats hors Québec and Le Labo. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Advocates’ Society from 2016 to 2020.

Justice Vermette lives in Toronto with her husband and their two children.

Quick facts

  • At the Superior Court level, more than 440 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, LGBTQ2+, 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 provides 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.

  • 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.


For more information, media may contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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