Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of British Columbia
February 7, 2022 – 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.
Bruce Elwood, Master at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Elwood fills one of the two new positions authorized further to the Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1.
K. Michael Stephens, Equity Counsel at Hunter Litigation Chambers in Vancouver, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Stephens replaces Justice J. Watchuk (Vancouver), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective May 1, 2021.
Michael G. Thomas, Partner at Harper Grey LLP in Vancouver, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Thomas fills one of the two new positions authorized further to the Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1.
Baljinder Kaur Girn, Senior Crown Counsel at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Vancouver, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Girn replaces Justice D.M. Masuhara (Vancouver), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective May 23, 2021.
John Gibb-Carsley, Senior Counsel at the Department of Justice Canada in Vancouver, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Gibb-Carsley replaces Justice J. Harvey (New Westminster), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective August 22, 2021.
Jacqueline D. Hughes, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel at the Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia in Vancouver, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Hughes replaces Justice E.J. Adair (Vancouver), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective September 21, 2021.
Briana Hardwick, Partner at Rush Ihas Hardwick LLP in Kelowna, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Hardwick replaces Justice L. Marchand (Kamloops), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal effective March 23, 2021. The Chief Justice has transferred Justice D. Hori (Kelowna) into this vacancy. The vacancy is therefore located in Kelowna.
“I wish Justices Elwood, Stephens, Thomas, Girn, Gibb-Carsley, Hughes, and Hardwick every success in their new roles. I know they will serve the people of British Columbia well as members of the Supreme Court.”
—The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Justice Bruce Elwood was born in New York City, immigrated to Canada with his parents, and found his home in Vancouver, British Columbia. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia. He was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1993.
Justice Elwood was appointed a Master of the Court in March 2019, following more than 20 years in general civil litigation. His diverse experience as a lawyer included commercial litigation, Aboriginal rights and title, constitutional litigation, administrative law, and government liability. He had the very good fortune of learning the practice of law from some of the finest lawyers of their generation, including John McAlpine, Carol Ross, Joe Wood, Bill Kaplan, Marvin Storrow, Louise Mandell, Joe Arvay and Rob Grant. Throughout his career, he has contributed to various legal education programs. For the past five years, he has taught Evidence at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.
Prior to attending law school, Justice Elwood worked in various fields, including as a ski instructor, computer programmer, fishing boat crew member, science teacher, construction worker, and farm hand. He has also served as a volunteer in Israel, Kenya, and Tanzania and on the trails of Mount Robson National Park.
An avid urban cyclist, mountain biker and backcountry skier, Justice Elwood enjoys everything that makes British Columbia beautiful.
Justice K. Michael Stephens was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1992, he received a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours from Queen’s University, where he also played varsity soccer. In 1996, he received an LL.B. from Dalhousie University and was awarded the University Medal in Law. He received an LL.M. from Harvard University in 1999.
Justice Stephens served as law clerk to the Honourable Charles D. Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada before being call to the B.C. bar in 1998. In 2002, he joined Hunter Voith Litigation Counsel. Subsequently, in 2006, became one of the original lawyers of the firm Hunter Litigation Chambers, where he practised law until his appointment to the Court. He is grateful for the support and inspiration he has received from his many close colleagues and the staff at these law firms.
Justice Stephens practised civil litigation in public law and private law matters. Over his career he has been a regular speaker at legal conferences and seminars and a contributor to the CLEBC publications British Columbia Administrative Law Practice Manual, Introducing Evidence at Trial, and Expert Evidence in British Columbia Civil Proceedings. He was a member of the Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee of the Law Society of British Columbia.
Justice Stephens is married to Judith Macfarlane, and they are proud parents of two children. He enjoys walking his dog, riding his road bike on the Arbutus Greenway in Vancouver, and jogging the paths in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax.
Justice Michael G. Thomas was born and raised in White Rock, British Columbia. He obtained a Bachelor of Laws in 1998 from Queen’s University and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1999.
Justice Thomas articled at Harper Grey Easton (now Harper Grey LLP) in 1998 and has practised exclusively with that firm. He is a civil litigator with a diverse practice. He has appeared at all levels of court in British Columbia, the Federal Court, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Justice Thomas has been recognized as a “Leading Lawyer” in the area of Personal Injury Litigation and Insurance Law by Best Lawyers in Canada and as a “Local Litigation Star” in the areas of Health Law and Personal Injury by Benchmark Canada, and rated as “Repeatedly Recommended Leading Practitioner” in Commercial Litigation by the Canadian Legal Expert Directory. He is the author of Administrative Justice: A Practitioner’s Guide and the co-author of Canadian Insurance Law, both published by LexisNexis.
Justice Thomas lives in North Vancouver with his wife, Lori. He has a teenage daughter who is an equestrian enthusiast. In addition to practising law, he enjoys time with his family and friends, travel and cycling.
Justice Baljinder Kaur Girn was born in India and immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of six. She grew up in Burnaby and is a proud member of Canada’s Punjabi Sikh community. She is fluent in Punjabi and has conversational fluency in Hindi. She was the first member of her extended family to attend university, earning a B.A. from Simon Fraser University and LL.B. from Queen’s University. She was called to the Ontario bar in 1999 and the British Columbia bar in 2002.
Justice Girn began her legal career with the law firm, Heller, Rubel in Toronto. In 2002, she joined the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) in British Columbia, and went on to become Senior Crown Counsel. For the past twenty years at the PPSC, she has litigated a broad range of criminal prosecutions of offences under various federal statutes in courts across British Columbia. At the PPSC, she also mentored law students and young lawyers and provided legal education to lawyers and law enforcement agencies. In 2020, she received the PPSC’s Leadership Excellence Award.
Justice Girn was a member of the PPSC’s Advancement Centre for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team, National Advisor for Racialized Persons, and Co-Champion of the PPSC Bias-Free Workplace Initiative. She was actively involved with the Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch, including serving on its board and provincial council for the past three years.
Justice Girn and her spouse are the proud parents of a teenaged son. She is an avid sports fan and a competitive soccer player, as well as being a community volunteer, aspiring chef, and gardener.
Justice John Gibb-Carsley was born and raised in Perth, Ontario. He completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Queen’s University in 1994. He then spent three years travelling the world, stopping for extended periods to teach in Australia and work on an environmental remediation project in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
Justice Gibb-Carsley returned to Queen’s to study law and then worked in Toronto with the commercial litigation department of a national law firm. In 2003, he joined the Tax Litigation Section of the Vancouver office of the Department of Justice Canada, where he frequently appeared before the Tax Court of Canada and the Federal Court. In 2010, he joined the Department’s Criminal Law and International Assistance Section, where he primarily litigated before the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Court of Appeal for British Columbia in extradition cases and matters related to evidence gathering on behalf of foreign law enforcement under mutual legal assistance in criminal matters treaties. In 2014, Justice Gibb-Carsley moved to Ottawa to work with the International Assistance Group of the Department of Justice Canada. Upon returning to Vancouver in 2015, he completed a Master of Laws at the University of British Columbia while resuming his work at the Department, litigating extradition and other criminal law matters.
Throughout his career, Justice Gibb-Carsley has been committed to mentoring junior lawyers and attempting to enhance courtesy in the practice of law.
Justice Gibb-Carsley is an avid mountain biker, trail runner, and cross-country skier. He can often be found on the mountains of the West Coast with his wife, Jennifer, and daughter Parker.
Justice Jacqueline D. Hughes, Q.C., was raised in Burnaby, B.C. and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and her LL.B from the University of Victoria. She was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 2005, and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2020.
Justice Hughes comes to the bench with a background in complex civil litigation. After her call to the bar, she articled and practised with a national law firm before joining Hunter Litigation Chambers in 2008, where she focused her practice on corporate and commercial disputes. In 2015, Justice Hughes joined the BC Ministry of Attorney General, where she was Senior Legal Counsel with conduct of a wide variety of Crown litigation files. Her practice involved issues of constitutional and administrative law that gave her occasion to appear before all levels of the British Columbia courts and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Justice Hughes has been a frequent contributor to continuing legal education through CLEBC, the Advocates’ Society, and the University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law, where she taught as both an adjunct professor and a guest instructor in the areas of Crown liability and advocacy. She is also a long-time contributing editor of a leading civil procedure text, The Conduct of Civil Litigation in British Columbia.
Justice Hughes and her husband are proud parents of two wonderful children and enjoy spending time outdoors together, especially during ski season.
Justice Briana Hardwick is a lifelong resident of Kelowna, British Columbia. She developed a strong passion for the law and the administration of justice by accompanying her father, J. Grant Hardwick, to court on many occasions commencing at a very young age. In keeping with this passion, Justice Hardwick pursued an Honours Degree in Political Science at the University of British Columbia and subsequently graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in 2004.
Justice Hardwick served as a law clerk for the British Columbia Supreme Court. Upon completing her clerkship and shortly after her call to the bar, she helped form the litigation boutique firm Rush Ihas Hardwick LLP with her partners David M. Rush, Q.C. and Kenneth J. Ihas. She initially practised a broad range civil, commercial and family litigation. In 2012, Justice Hardwick assumed the role of the head of the family law department at Rush Ihas Hardwick LLP. Thereafter, she focused her practice primarily on resolving family law matters and litigating family law disputes. She appeared as counsel on various occasions before the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the British Columbia Court of Appeal.
Justice Hardwick and her family own a farm and are very active in various competitive and recreational athletic endeavours, including equestrian sports, freestyle skiing, sport climbing, judo, triathlons and ultra marathon running.
At the Superior Court level, more than 505 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.
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