Judicial appointments: Toews and beyond

Just over a week in, March has already seen a host of new judicial appointments announced across Canada. Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced a number appointments March 7, including the controversial elevation of former Conservative cabinet minister Vic Toews to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba.

Toews, who received his LLB from the University of Manitoba in 1976 and was admitted to the bar of Manitoba in 1977 will replace Justice Donald P. Bryk, who elected to become a supernumerary judge as of Feb. 16. He was in-house counsel to the Great West Life Assurance Company from 1991-95 and again in 1999. His main areas of practice were criminal law, constitutional law, administrative law, and employment and labour law.

Michael T. Megaw, a lawyer with Gerrand Rath Johnson in Regina since 2001, was appointed a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan, replacing Justice N.S. Sandomirsky who went supernumerary last year. Megaw, who was admitted to the bar of Saskatchewan in 1985, was a bencher of the Law Society of Saskatchewan and has served as chairman of the ethics committee and conduct investigation committee. Prior to that, he practised with Shirkey Ulmer Wilner Megaw Robertson Stromberg, Gritzfeld Megaw, and Gritzfeld Johnson. He was also in-house counsel for Saskatchewan Government Insurance. His main areas of practice were civil litigation, criminal law, family law, and employment law.

Paul W. Nicholson and Gregory J. Verbeem were both appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and Windsor, respectively. Nicholson replaces Justice Clifford S. Nelson in Newmarket, who elected to become a supernumerary judge as of Feb. 25. Nicholson  was called to the bar of Ontario in 1990. He practised in association with Paul Mack and Neil Kisbee in Oshawa from 1990-97 and has since been a sole practitioner. His main area of practice was family law.

Verbeem replaces Justice Richard C. Gates, who went supernumerary last year. Verbeem was admitted to the Ontario bar in 1996. He served as a judicial law clerk for the regional senior justice in the southwest region and has been an associate and partner with Bartlet & Richardes LLP since 1996. His main areas of practice were personal injury litigation and commercial litigation.

In Alberta, Court of Queen’s Bench justice Thomas W. Wakeling and Russell S. Brown were elevated to the Court of Appeal of Alberta, and the courts of appeal in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Wakeling and Brown were both appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench on Feb. 8, 2013.

Wakeling  replaces Justice Peter T. Costigan, who elected to become a supernumerary judge in 2011. Wakeling was called to the bar of Saskatchewan in 1980 and Alberta in 1982. He was a former partner at Fraser Milner Casgrain practising in the areas of constitutional law, labour law, and arbitration.

Brown takes over for Justice Myra B. Bielby, who went supernumerary in 2013. He was admitted to the bar of British Columbia in 1995 and Alberta in 2008. He has been associate counsel with Miller Thomson LLP in Edmonton, Carfra & Lawton in Victoria, and Davis & Co. in Vancouver. His main areas of practice were commercial law, medical negligence, personal injury, trusts and estates and competition law.

Debra A. Yungwirth, a lawyer with Yungwirth Tumbach in Edmonton, will replace Wakeling as a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. She was called to the Alberta bar in 1983. She has practised with Barr Wensel Nesbitt Reeson and Biamonte Thurston, with a focus on family law, criminal law, and civil litigation.

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