Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces a judicial appointment in the province of Ontario
October 23, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
The Honourable Arif Virani, 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.
Laura B. Stewart, Partner at Gowling WLG in Ottawa, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in Brampton. Justice Stewart replaces Justice G.D. Lemon (Guelph), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective December 12, 2022. The Chief Justice has transferred Justice C. Petersen (Brampton) into this vacancy. The vacancy is therefore located in Brampton.
“I wish Justice Stewart every success as she takes on her new role. I am confident she will serve Ontarians well as a member of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario.”
—The Hon. Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Justice Laura B. Stewart was born and raised in Halifax. She has degrees in chemistry and law from Dalhousie University as well as a diploma in piano performance (ARCT) from the Royal Conservatory of Music. While at law school, she was on the team that won the Gale Cup and Commonwealth Mooting competitions. She was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1995.
Justice Stewart practiced civil litigation at Gowling WLG in Ottawa and became a partner in 2002. Her practice took her to numerous locations across Ontario, particularly eastern and northern communities. She practiced in the areas of health law, medical defence, and professional regulation. She has a particular interest in mental health law.
Justice Stewart was actively involved in advocacy and legal education, delivering frequent programs on issues of advocacy techniques and substantive law for various organizations. She served on the Board of Directors of The Advocates’ Society from 2010 to 2013 and chaired the Standing Committee on Advocacy and Practice from 2012-2013. In 2016, she received The Advocates’ Society Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The Government of Canada has appointed more than 660 judges since November 2015. The Honourable Arif Virani has made 37 appointments since becoming Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada on July 26, 2023. These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada. Of these judges, more than half are women, and appointments reflect an increased representation of racialized persons, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQI+, and those who self-identify as having a disability.
To support the needs of the courts and improve access to justice for all Canadians, the Government of Canada is committed to increasing the capacity of superior courts. Budget 2022 provides for 22 new judicial positions, along with two associate judges at the Tax Court of Canada. Along with the 13 positions created under Budget 2021, this makes a total of 37 newly created superior court positions. Since Budget 2017, the government has funded 116 new judicial positions.
Changes to the Questionnaire for Federal Judicial Appointments were announced in September 2022. The questionnaire continues to provide for a robust and thorough assessment of candidates but has been streamlined and updated to incorporate, among other things, more respectful and inclusive language for individuals to self-identify diversity characteristics.
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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