Appointment will fill vacancy to be left by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who is set to retire Dec. 15.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has nominated Alberta-based Sheilah Martin to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Martin was first appointed as a judge in 2005, and served on the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary until June 2016, when she was appointed as a judge of the Courts of Appeal of Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
She has also served as a deputy judge for the Supreme Court of Yukon since 2009. Her 30-year legal career has focused on Indigenous issues, education, equality rights and increasing the number of underrepresented groups in law schools and the legal profession.
A news release from the Prime Minister’s Office also touted her awards, including the Distinguished Service Award for Legal Scholarship, the Law Society of Alberta’s Certificate of Merit and the YWCA’s Advancement of Women Award.
Trudeau praised Martin’s accomplishments as an asset to the top court. “She has a breadth of experience, is an extraordinary jurist and has experience right across the country, including in the North,” he said. “She’s going to be a great voice on the Supreme Court.” The appointment Wednesday fills a vacancy on the bench from the pending departure of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who retires Dec. 15.
Chief justice to be named mid-December
Trudeau has not yet named a new chief justice, but his office said that appointment will be made in mid-December. Next Monday, members of the House of Commons justice committee will hold a special hearing, where Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould will explain the selection process and provide reasons Martin was nominated.
Another meeting Tuesday that will be moderated by a law professor will give MPs and senators on the respective House and Senate justice committees an opportunity to ask Martin questions.
Conservative deputy justice critic Michael Cooper welcomed the “well-qualified” appointment, saying Martin brings both practical and academic perspectives to the bench. “She has the judicial temperament. She is someone who brings experience. She is someone who is well-respected,” he said.
NDP justice critic Murray Rankin welcomed the appointment of Martin, calling her an “extraordinary jurist.” But he expressed disappointment an Indigenous candidate was not picked. “I think all Canadians are disappointed. Certainly the NDP is disappointed that there wasn’t an Indigenous person who was appointed,” he said.