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Donning the silks

|Written By Yamri Taddese

More than 180 lawyers across the country welcomed 2014 with a Queen’s Counsel designation to add to their title. Although Ontario and Manitoba no longer bestow the centuries-old honour upon lawyers, most other provinces still do.

In Alberta, 114 lawyers were admitted as Queen’s Counsel on Dec. 31 for their “outstanding contributions to legal and public life.” The province goes through the nomination process every two years. The Law Society of Alberta reviews QC applications and makes recommendations, but the justice minister and cabinet make the final selection. The 2013 honourees, listed here, include both public and private sector lawyers.

Saskatchewan also appointed 13 lawyers as QC. All of them, said Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant, “have diverse legal experience and are committed to strengthening our legal system and communities.” Wyant sits on the committee that selects lawyers for QC appointments. The committee also includes the chief justice of either the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal or the chief justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench as well as past presidents of the Law Society of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Bar Association’s Saskatchewan branch. The list of the recent appointees can be found here.

Earlier last month, British Columbia Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton announced the 33 lawyers who received the honorary title. The province confers the honour on lawyers annually to recognize “exceptional merit and contribution.” Among the honourees is Robert Banno, former detainee of an interment camp for Japanese Canadians “who went on to become a lawyer and fought for justice in the case for redress,” according to the announcement. The full list of B.C.'s appointees can be viewed here.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced its QC appointments in September 2013. The province’s Justice Minister Darin King, who consulted with the Legal Appointments Board as per the Queen’s Counsel Act, recommended the 11 appointees. “While this year’s appointees have varied backgrounds and are committed to strengthening the legal system in the province, they also make significant contributions to their communities in other capacities as well,” said King. All of the province's appointees are listed here.

In New Brunswick, 11 lawyers made the list in October after a committee, chaired by the province’s chief justice, made recommendations to the lieutenant-governor. The list is here.

On Jan. 29, 2014, the Nova Scotia Department of Justice released the names of the 14 new QCs named for that province. They are listed here.

The QC appointment tradition dates back to 16th century England. The first Queen’s Counsel admissions were made in Upper Canada in 1841.

Updated Jan. 29: List from Nova Scotia added

  • RE: Donning the silks

    John G
    The federal government appointed a few QCs this year after a 20-year hiatus. Here is Simon Fodden's take on it from the Slaw.ca blog (which links to the announcement): http://www.slaw.ca/2013/12/21/federal-q-c-s-as-anniversary-presents/. The other important exception to the appointment practice is of course Quebec, which has not appointed a Queen's Counsel since the Parti Quebecois came to power in 1976.

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