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Judges appointed to federal courts, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:07 PM | By Paula Kulig

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has appointed judges to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. The appointments were announced on June 23, along with others in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

John B. Laskin, a partner at Torys LLP who practised litigation for more than 30 years in the firm’s Toronto office, has been appointed to the Federal Court of Appeal. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal courts, every level of court in Ontario, the courts of seven other provinces and territories, domestic and international arbitrations and a variety of administrative tribunals. He replaces Justice Eleanor Dawson, who elected to become a supernumerary judge.

Called to the Ontario bar in 1979 and the Alberta bar in 1987, Justice Laskin received his law degree (gold medallist) from the University of Toronto and a master of laws from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of Litigation Counsel of America, and has been a member of the Ontario Regional Committee of the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute. He has spoken, written and taught frequently on matters of public law and advocacy, and is co-editor of Canadian Charter of Rights Annotated. Before entering private practice, he was a professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.

William F. Pentney, deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general since 2012, will be sitting on the Federal Court. He first joined the public service in 1991 as general counsel and director of legal services at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, where he remained until 1999. From 1999 to 2006, he held several positions within the Department of Justice, including senior assistant deputy minister for the policy sector, and assistant deputy attorney general for the citizenship, immigration and public safety portfolio. From 2006 to 2007, he was assistant secretary to the cabinet (priorities and planning) at the Privy Council Office. He later became associate deputy minister at the Department of National Defence.

Justice Pentney, who holds a law degree from Queen’s University and was called to the bar in 1985, also served as deputy secretary to the cabinet (plans and consultations) at the Privy Council Office. Prior to joining the public service, he was a professor at the University of Ottawa’s law faculty. He replaces Justice Michael Phelan, who elected to become a supernumerary judge.

In Alberta, Janice R. Ashcroft, senior legal counsel with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, has been appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench. She fills a new position in Calgary created by s. 165 of Bill C-31.

Justice Ashcroft, who received her law degree from Queen’s University and was called to the Alberta bar in 1991, began her legal career in civil litigation, with a focus on family law, before moving to the human rights commission in 1998. In her role as director’s counsel at the commission, she has appeared at all levels of court, litigating numerous cases affecting the human rights of Albertans and involving significant administrative law issues. In 2011, she was appointed counsel to the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals. Justice Ashcroft is a frequent speaker at legal education seminars and conferences, has taught at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, and was instrumental in developing pro bono legal initiatives to provide individuals with representation before human rights tribunals.