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

News release

October 10, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable Arif Virani, 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.

David Conway, a sole practitioner in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, General Division. Justice Conway replaces Justice D. Paquette (St. John's - General Division), who passed away January 10, 2022.  The Chief Justice has transferred Justice P. O'Flaherty (Grand Bank) into this vacancy. The vacancy is therefore located in Grand Bank.

Stephanie Hickman, K.C., Partner at Cox & Palmer in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Family Division. Justice Hickman replaces Justice D. Boone (St. John's - General Division), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal on June 2, 2022. The Chief Justice has transferred Justice I. Muzychka (St. John's - Family Division) into this vacancy. The vacancy is therefore located in St. John's - Family Division.


“I wish Justices Conway and Hickman every success as they take on their new roles. I am confident they will serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador well as members of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

—The Hon. Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada


Justice David Conway was raised in St. John’s and is a graduate of McGill University (Bachelor of Arts, 1996) and the University of New Brunswick (Bachelor of Laws, 1999). He articled with Lerners LLP before being called to the Bar in Ontario and the Bar in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Justice Conway spent his career working in-house as a labour lawyer with the Registered Nurses’ Union of Newfoundland and Labrador until 2017, when he was appointed as the Chairperson of the Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board. Following the completion of his term as Chairperson in 2022, he acted as a labour arbitrator, adjudicator, and independent legal counsel. He also conducted statutory reviews for the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Prior to his appointment, Justice Conway was an instructor in the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar Admission Course, a member of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Disciplinary Panel, a member of the National Labour & Employment Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, and a past instructor at the graduate-level at Memorial University. His recent volunteer activities include serving on committees for two of the schools that he attended, St. Patrick’s Hall School and Neuchâtel Junior College, and serving on the Board of Directors of the not-for-profit Opimian Society. He has presented at conferences and seminars throughout Canada and has appeared at various levels of Court, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Justice Conway and his wife Courtney are the proud parents of three young daughters. 

Justice Stephanie Hickman was born and raised in St. John’s.  She received her B.A. from Memorial University and her LL.B from the University of New Brunswick in 1995. She was called to the bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1996. 

Justice Hickman was chair of the Regional Board of Cox & Palmer and a partner in their St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador office. She spent her professional career at Cox & Palmer and had a thriving construction, commercial, and energy practice providing strategic and practical advice to her clients throughout the region. A Fellow of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, she was recognized by her peers and clients as a leader in her field. She has participated in multiple mediations, acted as counsel in the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry, and has appeared before all levels of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. She was appointed King’s Counsel in 2019.

Justice Hickman was a recipient of the Lexpert Zenith Award for mid-career excellence and has been active in many committees and organizations inside and outside the practice of law, including the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (Disciplinary Panel), the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association, NLOWE (Newfoundland and Labrador Organization for Women Entrepreneurs), St. John Ambulance, the Dr. Jack Hand Foundation,and was a past chair of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador. She was also a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization.

Justice Hickman is married to David Fay and enjoys spending time in Ireland..

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has appointed more than 655 judges since November 2015. The Honourable Arif Virani has made 30 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:

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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