Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces a judicial appointment in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador

News release

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces a judicial appointment in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador

October 24, 2022 – 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 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 Katherine O’Brien, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador. Justice O’Brien replaces Justice L. Hoegg, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective June 1, 2022.

Quote

“I wish Justice O’Brien every success as she takes on her new role. I am confident she will serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador well as a member of the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

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

Biography

Justice Katherine O’Brien was appointed to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2019. She graduated from Memorial University with a B.Eng in 1996, and from the University of British Columbia with an LL.B. in 2002. Among numerous scholarships and academic awards she received in engineering and law, she was awarded the 2003 Treasurer’s Medal by the Law Society of Upper Canada. She articled with Smart & Biggar in Toronto and was called to the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2004.

At the time of her appointment to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Justice O’Brien had practised with her father at his firm, O’Brien and Associates, for almost 16 years. She has served a wide range of clients in her career, particularly within the local business community.

Prior to joining the bench, Justice O’Brien was teaching for the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador and serving as counsel for a public commission and co-counsel for two public inquiries. She was a volunteer and board member in a number of non-profit organizations, including as chair of the East Coast Trail Association and of Stella’s Circle Foundation.

Quick facts

  • At the Superior Court level, more than 565 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, 2SLGBTQI+, 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.

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-6568
Chantalle.Aubertin@justice.gc.ca

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

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