March 24, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments under the new judicial application process announced on October 20, 2016. The new process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.
The Honourable Marilyn Slawinsky, a Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta, is appointed a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Red Deer. She replaces Mr. Justice K. Sisson, who retired on January 3, 2017.
Ritu Khullar, Q.C., managing partner at Chivers Carpenter Lawyers in Edmonton, is appointed a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Edmonton. She replaces Madam Justice M. Crighton, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal of Alberta on October 19, 2016.
Michele H. Hollins, Q.C., a partner at Dunphy Best Blocksom in Calgary, is appointed a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary. She replaces Madam Justice J. Strekaf, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal of Alberta on October 19, 2016.
William T. deWit, Q.C., a partner at Wolch deWit Watts & Wilson in Calgary, is appointed a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary. He replaces Madam Justice M.C. Erb, who elected supernumerary status effective November 15, 2016.
Madam Justice Marilyn Slawinsky was appointed a judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta in September 2015. She holds a B.Sc. from Brandon University and a J.D. from the University of Manitoba. She maintained a private practice in Red Deer for more than twenty years, primarily in the areas of family law, wills and estates, estate litigation, and personal injury. During this time, Madam Justice Slawinsky developed particular expertise in conflict resolution and became a registered family mediator. From 2012 to 2015, she held managerial roles within Alberta Justice, overseeing the delivery of dispute resolution services and programming. She then became Interim Public Complaint Director and Legal Counsel to the Calgary Police Commission, before her appointment to the bench.
Madam Justice Ritu Khullar was born in Fort Vermilion, Alberta, to parents who had immigrated from India. She spent her childhood in the small town of Morinville, Alberta, an experience that shaped her character. She earned an Honours B.A. from the University of Alberta and an LL.B. from the University of Toronto. Madam Justice Khullar then clerked at the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench before going into private practice. Since 1998, she has practised with Chivers Carpenter Lawyers, focusing on labour and employment, privacy, administrative, human rights, and constitutional law. She became managing partner of the firm in 2009. In addition to her practice, Madam Justice Khullar has lectured at the University of Alberta and served on numerous committees of the Canadian Bar Association. She has also acted pro bono in significant cases, including representing LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Madam Justice Michele H. Hollins holds a B.Sc. in biochemistry from Texas Christian University and an LL.B. from the University of Saskatchewan. After obtaining her law degree, she clerked for Chief Justice D.K. McPherson at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan. She articled and practised at McCarthy Tétrault in Calgary before joining Dunphy Best Blocksom, where she has been a partner since 2004. Her practice has focused on civil and commercial litigation, with an emphasis on employment law. Madam Justice Hollins has been extensively involved in the Canadian Bar Association and, in 2014-2015, led the organization as its National President. In this role, she travelled to communities from Inuvik to Pictou, working to address issues of significance to the legal profession and the justice system.
Before embarking on a career in law, Mr. Justice William T. deWit was an Olympic and professional boxer. His boxing titles include a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal (1982), the World Amateur Heavyweight Boxing Championship (1983-1984), and an Olympic Games Silver Medal (1984). After retiring as an athlete, Mr. Justice deWit earned his LL.B. from the University of Alberta. He articled with Justice Milt Harradence at the Alberta Court of Appeal and completed his articles at Howard Mackie (now Borden Ladner Gervais). In 1996, he joined the firm that is now Wolch deWit Watts & Wilson, becoming a partner in 2000. Over the past twenty years, his practice has focused on criminal law and quasi-criminal offences. Since 2012, Justice deWit has taught in the National Criminal Law Program organized by the Federation of Law Societies.
Further background information will be available shortly.
- Budget 2017 proposes additional funding of $55 million over five years beginning in 2017-2018 and $15.5 million per year thereafter for 28 new federally-appointed judges. Of these new positions, 12 would be allotted to Alberta and one to the Yukon, with the remaining 15 being assigned to a pool for needs in other jurisdictions.
- To ensure a judiciary that is responsive, ethical and sensitive to the evolving needs of Canadian society, the Canadian Judicial Council will receive $2.7 million over five years and $0.5 million ongoing thereafter. This will support programming on judicial education, ethics and conduct, including in relation to gender and cultural sensitivity.
- Today’s appointments are separate from the Budget 2017 announcement.
- 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 Judicial Advisory Committees in seven jurisdictions, including Alberta, were reconstituted and announced on January 19, 2017.
- This process is separate from the Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointment process announced on August 2, 2016. Nominees to the Supreme Court of Canada are selected by the Prime Minister from a thoroughly vetted list of candidates.