Under the new judicial application process introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for federal judicial appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister of Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire may be made available to the public, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench. The information is published as it was submitted by the candidates at the time they applied, subject to editing where necessary for privacy reasons.
Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable R. Kenneth Champagne.
Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment
Part 5 – Language
Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below, you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.
Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Part 6 – Education
Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained:
Law School: 1990-1993
- University of Manitoba law school Bachelor of Laws
- University of Winnipeg Bachelor of Arts in Justice and Law Enforcement and Sociology
- 2016 Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
- Sharing Indigenous Knowledge on Survival in Times of Climate Change
- Turtle Lodge, Sagkeeng First Nation, MB
- 2016 Pitblado Lectures
- Pimohtewin tati minowastanowahk (Journey to Reconciliation) Winnipeg, MB
- 2016 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Vancouver, BC
- 2016 Law Society of Manitoba Indigenous Legal Traditions – Turtle Lodge, Sagkeengirst Nation MB
- 2015 Crown Defence Conference Winnipeg, MB
- 2015 Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice Aboriginal Law Conference Saskatoon, SK
- 2015 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program St. Andrews, NB
- 2014 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Winnipeg, MB
- 2014 National Judicial institute Aboriginal Law Seminar Winnipeg, MB
- 2013 National Judicial Institute 25th Anniversary Renewing Our Vision Over Time Ottawa, ON
- 2013 American Judges Association Annual Education Program Kohala Coast, Hawaii
- 2013 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program St. John’s, NL
- 2013 National Judicial Institute – Education Forum – Courting Change: The Changing Role of Courts Winnipeg, MB
- 2012 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Toronto, ON
- 2012 National Judicial Institute – Judicial Administration Conference for Chief Judges Ottawa, ON
- 2011 Indigenous Bar Association Conference on Reconciliation Ottawa, ON
- 2011 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Regina, SK
- 2011 Implementing Gladue University of Manitoba Law School Winnipeg, MB
- 2011 National Judicial Institute – Judicial Administration Conference Toronto, ON
- 2010 Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice Mental Health Court and Sentencing Seminar Vancouver, BC
- 2010 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Halifax, NS
- 2010 Association of Canadian Court Administrators Court Technology Seminar Ottawa, ON
- 2010 Federal Court of Canada – Oral Testimony/Indigenous Legal Traditions Turtle Lodge, Sagkeeng First Nation, MB
- 2009 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Calgary, AB
- 2009 Seventh Annual Crown Defence Conference Winnipeg, MB
- 2009 Federation of Law Societies of Canada National Criminal Law Program Victoria, BC
- 2008 National Judicial Institute – Provincial Courts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan
- Joint Criminal Charter Intensive Program Winnipeg, MB
- 2008 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Quebec City, QC
- 2008 Sixth Annual Crown Defence Conference Winnipeg, MB
- 2007 Federation of Law Societies of Canada National Criminal Law Program Edmonton, AB
- 2007 Prairie Provinces and Territories Education Program Judgment Writing Winnipeg, MB
- 2007 Fifth Annual Crown Defence Conference Winnipeg, MB
- 2006 National Judicial Institute – Court Education Planning ProgramWinnipeg, MB
- 2005 Wrongful Conviction Conference Winnipeg, MB
- 2005 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges Annual Education Program Winnipeg, MB
- 2005 Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges New Judges Education Program, Lac Carling, QC
- 2005 to present – Provincial Court of Manitoba Education Programs Winnipeg, MB
- 2001 Osgoode Hall Law School Continuing Legal Education Search and Seizure Law in Canada
- 1994-2005 Manitoba Justice, Criminal Prosecutions Education Programs Winnipeg, MB
Honours and Awards:
- 2016 Manitoba Bar Association President’s Award of Excellence
- 2013 I was honoured with a presentation of an Eagle Feather for my work with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Community Justice Workers Program.
Part 7 – Professional and Employment History
Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.
Legal Work Experience:
I find my legal work experience narrative easier to read and understand by starting at the beginning of my career.
I articled with the Manitoba Prosecution Service from 1993 to 1994. After my call to the Bar in 1994, I continued working with Manitoba Prosecutions until my appointment to the Provincial Court of Manitoba in 2005. My work with Manitoba Prosecutions can be divided into two distinct periods of time.
From 1994 until 2000, I worked in the Thompson Judicial Centre in Northern Manitoba. The focus of my work was criminal prosecutions in Thompson and 15 outlying communities. Most of the communities were remote fly-in First Nations. I had carriage of many serious cases often involving jury trials. In 1998, I accepted additional administrative duties for the Thompson Crown’s office, becoming the Supervising Senior Crown Attorney.
In January 2000, I transferred to Family Violence Unit of Manitoba Prosecutions in Winnipeg. As a Senior Crown Attorney, I continued to prosecute serious criminal cases with a focus on domestic violence and child abuse. Around this time, child pornography cases involving the Internet were increasing. The Manitoba response included the creation of the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (ICE). I was assigned as the point person to give legal advice to this specialized unit.
In April 2005, I was appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba. The Court has primarily a criminal jurisdiction, as well as limited concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Queen’s Bench in family law matters that originate outside the City of Winnipeg, with a strong focus on child protection matters. In addition to cases under the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Provincial Court hears cases under a variety of other federal statutes, such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Income Tax Act. The Court also presides over inquests under the Fatality Inquiries Act and reviews alleged police misconduct under the Law Enforcement Review Act.
In 2009, I was appointed Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba for a seven-year non-renewable term. My term concluded on July 9, 2016. The Provincial Court of Manitoba covers the entire province. There are six judicial centres with resident judges, and we hold court in approximately 60 communities throughout the province. As Chief Judge, I had many administrative responsibilities and I oversaw the day-to-day operation of the Provincial Court of Manitoba. Pursuant to the Provincial Court Act, I was responsible to receive and review complaints about judicial conduct involving judges and judicial justices of the peace.
As Chief Judge, I worked diligently to build strong relationships with all stakeholders in the Justice system to increase access to justice and improve public confidence in the administration of justice. I sat on many committees and I was involved in many initiatives over the last seven years. All of this experience has given me a broad perspective on the Canadian legal system.
Non-Legal Work Experience:
I started working at the age of 15 in 1979. I worked for Cold Spring Granite Company in Lac du Bonnet. I continued to work there and go to school until I graduated grade 12, and then worked full time until I went to University in 1985. While attending the University of Winnipeg, I continued to work part time with Cold Spring. After graduating from the University of Winnipeg, I returned to Cold Spring full time. While attending law school, I worked for Lars Builders in Lac du Bonnet building houses, and one summer working for the Manitoba Department of Highways on a survey crew.
Other Professional Experience:
List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.
- 2016 Law Society of Manitoba Pitblado Lectures Co -Chair of the planning committee
- 2009 – 2016
- Canadian Council of Chief Judges
- Operating Committee
- Justice Efficiencies
- Justice Symposium
- 2009 – 2016 Judicial Nominating Committee Chair
- 2009 – 2016 Manitoba Courts Executive Board
- 2009 – 2016 Winnipeg Drug Treatment Court Oversight Committee
- 2009 – 2016 Aboriginal Court Workers Program Oversight Committee
- 2009 – 2016 Mental Health Court Committee
- 2009 – 2016 Court Liaison Committee
- 2009 – 2016 Provincial Court of Manitoba Senior Judge Committee
- 2009 – 2016 Provincial Court of Manitoba Community Outreach Committee
- 2009 – 2016 Manitoba Courts Security Advisory Committee
- 2009 – 2016 Provincial Court of Manitoba Management Committee
- 2014 – 2016 Sagkeeng Circle of Care Oversight Committee
- 2008 – 2016 Court Media Committee
- 2006 – present Provincial Court of Manitoba Compensation Committee
- 2006 – 2016 Provincial Court of Manitoba Education Committee
- 2008 Law Society of Manitoba CLE Program for Unrepresented Litigants Planning Committee
- 2007 – 2010 Crown Defence Conference Planning Committee
- 2007 – 2008 Judicial Nominating Committee Member Thompson, Portage Ia Prairie and two positions in Winnipeg
- 2006 – 2009 Provincial Court of Manitoba Informal Dispute Resolution Committee
- 2006 – 2009 Provincial Judges Association of Manitoba Executive (Member-at-large, Treasurer and President)
- 1995 – 2000 Northern Regional Justice Committee
- 1996 – 2000 The Nelson House Family Violence Group Committee
- 1991 – 1993 Lac du Bonnet Justice Committee
Pro Bono Activities:
As a Crown Attorney and Provincial Court Judge, there is little or no opportunity to engage in pro bono activities in the classic sense of the word. I strongly believe in giving back to the profession and the community. I believe I have done that consistently and continuously throughout my career, as demonstrated through my involvement in education of others, which is set out in the section below.
Teaching and Continuing Education:
List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a law faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, or the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice).
Throughout my career, I have been involved in providing legal education to judges, justices of the peace, lawyers, police officers, students and the public.
- 2016 (November) Institute of Public Administration of Canada Justice Issues and the Indigenous Population Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Winnipeg, MB
- 2016 (May) The Law Society of Manitoba, Indigenous Legal Traditions, The Provincial Court of Manitoba Sagkeeng First Nation, MB
- 2016 (April) The University of Manitoba Law School, Intensive Criminal Law Bail and sentencing, Winnipeg MB
- 2015 (November) Pimicikamak First Nation, Restorative Justice in Manitoba, Cross Lake, MB
- 2015 (October) Sagkeeng Child and Family Services, Circle of Care, Winnipeg MB
- 2015 (September) Winnipeg Drug Treatment Court, “A new beginning”, Informational Session, Winnipeg MB
- 2015 (June) The Provincial Court of Manitoba, Circle of Care, Informational Session, Winnipeg, MB
- 2015 (January) PROBUS (Professional/Business Club) of Manitoba, The Criminal Justice System Judicial Independence, Winnipeg MB
- 2014 (November) The Restorative Justice Act, Community Forum, The Legislature of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
- 2014 (November) The Law Society of Manitoba, Pitblado Lectures, Addressing Access to Justice, Winnipeg MB
- 2014 (March) The Aboriginal Law Students Association, The Criminal Justice System, Winnipeg, MB
- 2013 (August) Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Community Court Roundtable, Winnipeg MB
- 2013 (July) Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Community Justice Workers Program Sentencing Circles, Winnipeg MB
- 2013 (January) Aboriginal Court Workers Program, Speaking to Sentence, Winnipeg MB
- 2012 (November) The University of Winnipeg, Canadian Legal Systems Gladue and Sentencing, Winnipeg MB
- 2012 (November) Community Justices of the Peace, Introduction to the Criminal Justice System, Winnipeg MB
- 2012 (September) University of Manitoba Social Work Program The Justice System in Manitoba, Winnipeg MB
- 2011 (November) Community Justice of the Peace, Judicial Independence, Winnipeg MB
- 2011 (September) The University of Manitoba Social Work Program Gladue: Sentencing Aboriginal Offenders, Winnipeg MB
- 2011 (February) The Law Society of Manitoba, Expectations of Articling Students, Winnipeg MB
- 2010 (November) University of Winnipeg, Canadian Legal Systems, The Self Represented Litigant Winnipeg MB
- 2010 (November) The Aboriginal Court Worker Program, Expansion of service through community roundtables Winnipeg, MB
- 2010 (January) The Manitoba Bar Association, Aboriginal Law Students Criminal Justice in Manitoba Winnipeg MB
- 2009 (September) The University of Manitoba Social Work Program Gladue: Sentencing of Aboriginal Offenders Winnipeg MB
- 2008 (May) The Western Canadian Robbery Conference, Presentation on Providing Evidence in Court, Winnipeg, MB
- 2008 (April) Manitoba Judicial Justice of the Peace Education Days Winnipeg, MB
- Presentation on Evidence and the Elements of a Good Decision
- 2007 (December) Manitoba Judicial Justice of the Peace Education Program, Presentation on Peace Bonds, Winnipeg, MB
- 2007 (September) Fifth Annual Crown Defence Conference Presentation on Pre-Trials, Winnipeg, MB
- 2007 (June) The Law Society of Manitoba CLE Program for Junior Lawyers, Presentation on Skills and Expectations in Court, Winnipeg, MB
- 2006 (September) Provincial Court of Manitoba Education Program, Presentation on Sentencing and the Impact of the Gladue Decision, Winnipeg, MB
- 2006 (January) The Manitoba Bar Association Midwinter, Presentation on Gladue Winnipeg, MB
- 2005 The Law Society of Manitoba CLE Presentation on Bail Applications and Sentencing, Winnipeg, MB
- 2004 Crown Attorneys Conference, Presentation on Crown Conduct and Obligations, Best Work Practices, Winnipeg, MB
- 2003 (August) Canadian Police College, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
- 2003 (May) Canadian Police College, Forensic Interviewing Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
- 2003 (January) Canadian Police College, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
- 2002 (September) First Annual Crown Defence Conference, Presentation on Search and Seizure, Winnipeg, MB
- 2002 (August) Canadian Police College, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
- 2002 (January) Canadian Police College, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
- 2001 (December) Manitoba Crown Attorneys Conference, Presentation on Search and Seizure, Winnipeg, MB
- 2001 (October) St. Johns RCMP Training Centre, Major Case Management Legal Issues, St. Johns, NF
- 2001 (October) University of Manitoba, Department of Sociology Presentation on Family Violence Court, Winnipeg, MB
- 2001 (May) The Winnipeg Police Service, Presentation on Evidence in Family Violence Cases, Winnipeg, MB
- 2001 (January) Canadian Police College, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
- 2000 (November) Child Protection Conference, “Crystal Sprinkle Snow Colomb” A Case Study, Banff, AB
- 2000 (June) British Columbia Justice Institute, Major Case Management Course Legal Issues, Vancouver, BC
- 2000 (May) Edmonton Police Service, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Edmonton, AB
- 2000 (February) Canadian Police College, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
- 1999 Canadian Police College, Major Crimes Course Legal Issues, Ottawa, ON
Community and Civic Activities:
List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.
I have lived in small-town Manitoba my entire life and have been involved in many community activities throughout the years. I have never really documented my involvement with community organizations or community events, as I just help out whenever I can. I can say that I was the first Chairperson of the Lac du Bonnet Justice Committee back in 1991.
I have been involved in Minor Hockey as a coach and I have made many contributions to the local rink throughout my life as part of a volunteer group committed to the upkeep and maintenance of the arena. I was very active in the baseball scene in Lac du Bonnet as a player, coach, fund raiser and volunteer to rebuild and maintain the local ball diamonds.
I am a regular volunteer for the Lac du Bonnet Lions Club Canada Day Celebrations. I am also a regular volunteer for the annual Fire and Water Music Festival in Lac du Bonnet. My wife, kids and I just volunteered to serve the Seniors Christmas Dinner that had 500 attendees.
In addition, there was discussion and support for the Provincial Court to actively support our community. I co-chaired the Provincial Court of Manitoba Community Outreach Committee. This committee requests financial donations from the Judges of the Court. The committee seeks input from members of the bench about community groups or projects to support. For example, the judges of the court have sponsored, prepared and served a hot breakfast at Agape Table for a number of years.
Part 11 – The Role of the Judiciary in Canada’s Legal System
The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada’s legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.
1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?
I am unable to single out any specific contribution that I have made to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada. As Chief Judge for the Provincial Court of Manitoba I was provided an incredible opportunity to contribute to our justice system. I think I did that in a number of ways and can provide a few examples.
- Judicial Independence. In this country, we are very fortunate to have true judicial independence. As a judge, I have a duty and responsibility to protect judicial independence for the people of Canada. In Part 9, question 6, I refer to litigation that I and the judges of our court were involved in with the Government of Manitoba. At first blush this may seem to only be about compensation, but that is not the case. In our democracy, our government is divided into three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judiciary. There are constitutional principles that clearly define the relationship of these three branches of government for the benefit of the people of Canada. These constitutional principles must be respected and should be embraced by the three branches of government. These constitutional principles apply to the compensation process. When and if those principles are not respected, all people should be concerned, as that action weakens our democracy. The judges of the court were of the view that the Manitoba government did not respect these constitutional principles during the 2008 Judicial Compensation Process. We pursued litigation in the courts to hold the government accountable. I had a front row seat, as our case was based on my evidence. The trial judge and the Manitoba Court of Appeal agreed with the Judges of the Provincial Court.
- Winnipeg Drug Treatment Court (WDTC)
Specialty courts or problem-solving courts have grown in number across the country. These courts are designed to tackle the root cause of people’s involvement in the criminal justice system. The WDTC has been successfully operating for a number of years. There are lengthy and detailed evaluations of the WDTC. As I mentioned elsewhere in the material, we had some serious administrative issues with the operation of the WDTC. I am proud to have been part of the team that solved these problems with a complete reorganization of the administrative structure of the WDTC.
- Winnipeg Mental Health Court
It has become very clear that a large number of people involved in the criminal justice system suffer from a variety and degree of mental illness. As Chief Judge, I was part of the team that led to the creation of the Winnipeg Mental Health Court. This involved the efforts of many people and stakeholders outside of the justice system. I and a Forensic Psychiatrist served as Co-chairs of the Mental Health Court oversight[NPS1] committee. This problem-solving court is closely monitored and independently evaluated to ensure it is meeting objectives. The court expanded to take a lead role in court-ordered Fitness Assessments for those charged with criminal offences.
- Senior Judges Program
As Chief Judge, I was able to persuade the Manitoba Government of the importance of a Senior Judges Program. This led to changes to the Provincial Court Act in 2011 allowing retired judges to be called upon by the Chief Judge to ensure and improve access to justice during medical leaves, illnesses or judicial vacancies. The result enabled court to remain open, where in the past the court was closed and matters delayed.
- Cameras in the Courtroom
This was an access-to-justice initiative by the “Three Chiefs” representing the three levels of court in Manitoba. This project allows the media to broadcast live court proceedings in certain cases where appropriate conditions were met, increasing access to court proceedings in the province.
- French Language training for Provincial Court Judges
The Provincial Court of Manitoba was able to secure federal funding for French Language training for our bilingual judges. This funding is administered by the Chief Judge. As a member of the Canadian Council of Chief Judges, I was part of a group that saw the creation of a superb French Language training program created by the Provincial Court of New Brunswick. Our bilingual judges continue to attend the program in New Brunswick to ensure individuals requesting French proceedings in the province are provided their constitutional right.
2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?
As previously noted, I still live in Lac du Bonnet, MB. Small-town rural life provides its own unique experiences and has a way to shape you as a person. I have mentioned my positive experiences with Aboriginal communities throughout the province of Manitoba. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Canadians who have never experienced these positive relationship with Indigenous people. Many people in the justice system are only exposed to negative circumstances involving Aboriginal people and these perceptions can impede the journey of reconciliation.
Small-town Prairie[NPS2] life also meant that I have many friends from the farming community. Not that long ago, farms were much smaller, owned and operated by European families. I still attend the local coffee shop to hear about all of the problems with the justice system from local farmers, truckers and contractors.
Over the years, I have had the good fortune to travel the World with my spouse and later with our children. Travel to Europe, Africa, Australia, the United States, South East Asia and the Middle East exposes a person to many different cultures, religions and life experiences. These experiences provide education and promote tolerance and understanding for other ways of life.
In my professional life, I have had the opportunity to work in most of, if not every single one of, the court locations in the Province of Manitoba. As Chief Judge for the court, I was involved in meeting a wide variety of people and stakeholders from every area and social economic class in the province: from serving breakfast for homeless people at Agape Table; to dinner meetings with the head of Forensic Psychiatric services in Manitoba; to celebrating with a feast with the People of Nelson House, Manitoba; to dining with the Chief Judges from across the country in Ottawa. I am fully aware of the incredible diverse immigration population in Winnipeg and Canada. We have close friends and two different families who have adopted children from Ethiopia. We go out as a large group to share traditional meals and attend community events.
My spouse is the executive director for Mrs. Lucci’s second-hand store and Resource Centre in Lac du Bonnet. She is also a teacher who runs the alternative education classroom out of her Resource Centre. I am fully immersed in the difficulties and challenges that the youth in our community face. Many of these youth are placed in our community with foster families and present a challenge for the school and the community. With compassion and support, their lives are improved. I conclude this question by stating my personal life experiences in addition to my professional life experiences have provided me with insight and a broad perspective on the people in this great country.
3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.
I have been presiding as a judge for close to 12 years. I am still amazed at my ever changing and evolving role. First and foremost, a judge sits as an independent and impartial decision-maker deciding facts and applying the law to those facts. Elsewhere in this document I have spoken about the three branches of government and the role of the judiciary.
Judicial Independence is the cornerstone of a constitutional democracy and it exists for the people of this country. Every single person who finds herself or himself in a courtroom is entitled to an independent and impartial decision-maker who is free from all outside influence. This constitutional principle has served Canadians well as we still have one of the best justice systems in the world.
However, to maintain and improve our constitutional democracy, the role of a judge is changing and evolving. We see the changes in the way matters proceed through court. Judges are asked to case-manage matters in all areas of the law and to try and resolve matters, rather than deciding cases through the trial process.
We have seen the creation and expansion of problem-solving courts – where judges are part parent, part coach and part disciplinarian when needed. Judges have been called upon and risen to the challenge to try and improve outcomes in the justice system.
This phenomenon is especially true for the administrative judges of a court. The Chief and Associate Chief Judges of all levels of courts across the country have been challenged to lead change and improve access to justice and increase public confidence in the administration of justice. These changes can only be accomplished by engaging all stakeholders and the community in creating new initiatives and implementing those changes. The administrative judges are no longer parked in chambers, only concerned with the day-to-day operation of the court. They are out in the community building relationships, meeting with government and all stakeholders as they take the lead on change. Not all judges agree with this trend, as judicial independence and impartiality and the perception of independence and impartiality can come into question as the judiciary take on this new active public role.
I firmly believe that this trend must and will continue as judges can provide incredible leadership to facilitate meaningful change that will improve our justice system.
4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?
The short answer is: it depends. It doesn’t matter which court you preside over, the audience for your decision(s) can vary depending on the nature of the matter before the court, the issue(s) to be determined and the context of the case.
The Manitoba Court of Appeal is the senior and final court in the province. The court usually sits in panels of three judges, but there are also chambers motions resulting in decisions by individual judges. The court hears appeals from the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and the Provincial Court of Manitoba, but in certain circumstances there are also appeals from professional bodies, government boards and tribunals. The audience for a decision from the Court of Appeal will usually focus on the parties before the court, but a decision can be written knowing the audience will likely include the Supreme Court of Canada. If the law on a particular issue is unclear or divided across the country, then the case will likely be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The audience for decisions from the Court of Appeal can and often does include judges of the lower courts, the legal community, and the public at large, if a case is clarifying some area of the law in the province.
It is much the same for the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench. The court is divided into two divisions. The General Division deals with civil and criminal matters. In addition to hearing trials, judges of the court preside over appeals from decisions of small claim hearing officers, appeals over summary conviction matters arising from decisions in Provincial Court and appeals from decisions of masters. So, depending on the nature of the hearing, the audience can vary and include the parties before the court or expand to include judges or judicial officers of lower courts, the legal profession and the public at large.
The court also has a Family Division that specializes in family disputes including separation, divorce, custody and access to children, maintenance and child protection. Of course, the audience for these types of decisions will often be the parties directly before the judge and decisions can be difficult, as these can be emotional cases involving children. Often decisions have a direct impact on children who are old enough to have rights and wish to understand what is happening in their lives. It can be challenging to deliver a legal decision in a way that all parties can understand the law and appreciate the result. It takes an impressive skill set to manage these matters.
Again, decisions from the Family Division often have a far ranging impact and the audience is beyond the courtroom. There will be times when a case is much more about the law and not so much about the facts. Those decisions can impact many and the audience will include the profession, colleagues, the public and the Manitoba Court of Appeal.
So I conclude my comments about the audience the way I began… “it depends”.
5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.
A careful read of the responses to the questions previously answered and the materials I have submitted explain my personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and provide a glimpse into my life experiences that have equipped me to preside as a judge for nearly 12 years. Seven of those years I served as Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba, and that experience only served to broaden my perspective and strengthen my core foundation to do this job and do it well!
6. Given the goal of ensuring that Canadians are able to look at the justices appointed to the bench and see their faces and life experience reflected there, you may, if you choose, provide information about yourself that you feel would assist in this objective.
Again, the information I have already provided should serve to demonstrate that my background and life experience is reflective of many people who appear in our courts day in and day out.