Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador
August 6, 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 Frances J. Knickle, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, is appointed a Judge of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador. Madam Justice Knickle replaces Madam Justice G. Welsh (St. John’s), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective March 31, 2021.
Philip W. Osborne, Assistant Deputy Minister, Legal Services, with the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Justice and Public Safety in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Justice Osborne replaces Madam Justice J. Knickle, who is elevated to the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador effective August 4, 2021. Due to internal Court transfers, the vacancy is located in Gander.
“I wish Justices Knickle and Osborne every success in their new roles. I know they will serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador well as members of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
—The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Justice Frances J. Knickle was appointed to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2017. Born into a fishing family in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, she studied music and theatre before pursuing a career in law. She earned her B.A. in music from Acadia University. After receiving her law degree from Dalhousie University, she articled with the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Justice. She worked with the Public Prosecution Division after being called to Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1992.
At the time of her appointment to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Madam Justice Knickle had been a front-line trial Crown for many years. She developed a specialty in appellate advocacy, including several appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2013, she earned her Queen’s Counsel designation. She also became a designated agent under Part VI of the Criminal Code. In her role as Director of Public Prosecutions (Acting), she endeavoured to inspire excellence in the practice of criminal law.
Justice Philip W. Osborne received a Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University in 1994 and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New Brunswick in 2001. He was called to the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in 2002.
At the time of his appointment, Mr. Justice Osborne was serving as the Assistant Deputy Minister, Legal Services, with the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Justice and Public Safety. Prior to being appointed Assistant Deputy Minister, he had served as Director of the Civil Division and as Manager of Civil Litigation for the Department. He has represented the Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador in a broad range of complex civil matters before the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Federal Court of Canada, and the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to joining the Department of Justice and Public Safety in 2007, Justice Osborne maintained a general practice with the firm Benson Myles.
Always involved in his community, Justice Osborne has served on various committees and boards. He is a long-time member of the Rotary Club of St. John’s Northwest.
Justice Osborne and his spouse, Kerry Hatfield, are the proud parents of two boys, Jorden and Aidan. He enjoys hiking the East Coast Trail with his family in the summer and curling with his brother in the winter.
At the Superior Court level, more than 475 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.
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting a justice system in which sexual assault matters are decided fairly, without the influence of myths and stereotypes, and in which survivors are treated with dignity and compassion. Changes to the Judges Act and Criminal Code that came into force on May 6, 2021, mean that in order to be eligible for appointment to a provincial superior court, candidates must agree to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination. The new legislation enhances the transparency of decisions by amending the Criminal Code to require that judges provide written reasons, or enter them into the record, when deciding sexual assault matters.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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