Dept of Justice announces Alberta judicial appointments

Dept of Justice announces Alberta judicial appointments
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

Strengthening Justice Through Diversity and Excellence

On April 15, 2024, the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, made significant judicial appointments to the Court of Appeal and Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, emphasizing a commitment to transparency, merit, and diversity. These appointments mark a pivotal moment in enhancing the representation within the Canadian judicial system, reflecting the rich diversity of its population.

Justice Tamara Friesen, previously a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, has been appointed to the Court of Appeal of Alberta in Edmonton, replacing Justice F.L. Schutz. Joining her in elevation is Justice Joshua B. Hawkes, who moves from the Alberta Court of Justice in Calgary to the Court of Appeal of Alberta in Calgary, taking the place of the retired Justice B.L. Veldhuis.

New appointments to the Court of King's Bench of Alberta include Maureen J. McGuire, K.C., previously Counsel at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Edmonton, and Kelsey L. Brookes, Partner at Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP. They replace Justices R.P. Belzil and T. Friesen, respectively.

Also joining the Court of King’s Bench are Shane Parker, K.C., a Senior Prosecutor from the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, and M. Oliver Ho, Partner at Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes LLP, both distinguished in their fields and community involvement. Derek Jugnauth, Partner at Wolch Wilson Jugnauth, completes the list of new justices, taking over from Justice A. Woolley.

Minister Virani expressed his utmost confidence in the capabilities of the new justices to uphold the values and integrity expected of their positions. He emphasized their potential to contribute positively to the judiciary and serve the community with fairness and diligence.

The newly appointed justices bring a wealth of experience and diverse backgrounds to their roles. From extensive legal expertise in criminal, constitutional, and municipal law to active participation in community service and legal education, each justice is well-prepared to handle the challenges and responsibilities of their new positions.

For example, Justice Friesen's career spans various aspects of law, including significant appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Hawkes has been a notable figure in law reform and judicial education, reflecting a deep commitment to the legal community.

The Canadian Government's ongoing efforts to appoint jurists who reflect the country's diversity are evident in these appointments. Over half of the appointed judges since November 2015 are women, with increased representation from racialized persons, Indigenous communities, the 2SLGBTQI+ community, and persons with disabilities.

These appointments are part of a broader strategy to enhance the functionality and accessibility of the courts, with the creation of new judicial positions and reforms aimed at fostering a more inclusive and educated judiciary.

The latest judicial appointments are a testament to Canada's commitment to reforming its judicial system, ensuring it is representative, fair, and responsive to the needs of all Canadians. As these jurists take on their new roles, their diverse backgrounds and dedication to justice will undoubtedly enrich the judicial landscape of Alberta and contribute significantly to the overarching goals of the Canadian justice system.