WLAO is very proud to announce that Board Director Audrey Ramsay has been appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice along with fellow member Gina Papageorgiou and former member Susan Vella. Congratulations!
Today it was released that an unprecedented 8 women, and only women, have been appointed this session to the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. The formal press release is below.
Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Ontario
From: Department of Justice Canada
May 22, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments under the judicial application process established in 2016. This process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.
Pamela M. Krause, a sole practitioner in Barrie, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, Family Court Branch. Madam Justice Kraus replaces Mr. Justice C.F. Graham (Barrie), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective July 19, 2019.
Susan Vella, counsel at Rochon Genova LLP in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Vella replaces Mr. Justice M.F. Brown (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective September 1, 2019.
Eugenia (Gina) Papageorgiou, a sole practitioner in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Papageorgiou replaces Madam Justice C.J. Horkins (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective January 17, 2020.
Audrey P. C. Ramsay, counsel at Blouin Dunn LLP in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Ramsay replaces Mr. Justice G. Czutrin (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective January 30, 2020.
Narissa Somji, counsel at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Ottawa, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Somji replaces Mr. Justice J.E. McNamara (Ottawa), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective December 30, 2019.
Jana Steele, partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Steele replaces Madam Justice N. Spies (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective February 25, 2020.
Catriona Verner, associate at Lockyer Campbell Posner LLP in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Verner replaces Mr. Justice A. Sosna (Oshawa), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective October 18, 2019.
Renu J. Mandhane, Chief Commissioner at the Ontario Human Rights Commission in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. Madam Justice Mandhane replaces Mr. Justice P.A. Daley (Brampton), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective January 31, 2020.
Justice Pamela M. Krause received her LL.B. from the University of Windsor in 1986 and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1988. In 2008, Justice Krause received her LL.M. from Osgoode Hall Law School.
Following her call to the bar, Madam Justice Krause practised civil litigation and family law in Windsor, Ontario, until 1997. She then became legal counsel at the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton-Wentworth. In February 2000, she became senior legal counsel and manager of legal services at the Children’s Aid Society of Simcoe County, where she remained until 2010. Justice Krause then returned to private practice, specializing in the area of family law, including child protection law. She was a member of the personal rights panel for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and a panel member for the Family Responsibility Office, and she participated in the family duty counsel panel. Justice Krause was also a part-time lawyer member of the Consent and Capacity Board.
Justice Krause has taken an active part in her legal community, most recently as President of the Simcoe County Family Law Lawyers’ Association and Communications Director of the Simcoe County Law Association. She was a Dispute Resolution Officer in Barrie and the lawyer liaison for that program. Justice Krause believes strongly in engaging with the community and has volunteered on various boards and committees. She served as a member of the board of governors for Georgian College for six years.
In her spare time, Justice Krause travels on her motorcycle and scuba dives with her husband, Reg.
Justice Susan Vella was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1988. She has worked in a range of private practice settings, commencing her legal career at Blake, Cassels and Graydon and later moving to Goodman and Carr LLP, where she became a partner. She has been at Rochon Genova LLP as senior counsel since 2007.
Madam Justice Vella is a pioneer in the field of civil sexual assault. Her practice also focussed on Indigenous issues, public law, and, earlier in her career, commercial litigation. She has acted as trial and appellate counsel at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She received the Advocates’ Society Award of Justice in 2008 and the Law Society Medal in 2009. Justice Vella’s career has reflected her commitment to public service and legal education. She served as Commission Counsel to the Ipperwash Inquiry, as initial Lead Commission Counsel to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and as a member of Ontario’s Civil Rules Committee. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters and also co-author of the text, Civil Liability for Sexual Abuse and Violence in Canada (2000).
In the community, Justice Vella served on various boards, including as a board member and then chair of VIVA! Singers of Toronto, an inner city youth choir.
Justice Vella and her long-time partner, Elizabeth, reside in Toronto and are the proud parents of David.
Justice Eugenia Papageorgiou was born and raised in Toronto by Macedonian/Greek parents, within a wonderful community of immigrants. It was her lifelong dream to become a lawyer, and her family and community supported and encouraged her in all things.
Madam Justice Papageorgiou was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1991, practised litigation at Stikeman Elliott LLP and then at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, where she became a partner. Her passion for social justice led her to the not-for-profit sector. Since 2006, she has been counsel to the Class Proceedings Committee of the Law Foundation of Ontario, which facilitates access to justice for the people of Ontario. She has been a Deputy Judge of Small Claims Court since 2009. Her commitment to the legal profession and wish to improve equity, diversity and inclusion led her to become involved with the Law Society of Ontario (LSO), where she has been a bencher since 2015.
Justice Papageorgiou is currently an adjudicator with the LSO and Vice-Chair of the Hearing and Appeal Panel. She also sits on multiple LSO committees, including the Equity and Indigenous Advisory Committee (EIAC) and the Professional Development and Competence Committee. She is a former vice-chair of the Access to Justice Committee and the EIAC, vice-chair and treasurer of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, and president of the board of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.
Justice Papageorgiou is married to a wonderful husband, Stephen, and is blessed with two daughters, Julie and Lisa, and a golden doodle, Lucy, who are the light of her life.
Justice Audrey P. C. Ramsay was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada at the age of 10. She received an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and French from Wilfrid Laurier University and an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa. Called to the bar in 1995, she has worked both in house and in private practice, focusing on insurance defence, including property and casualty law, professional negligence, commercial law, and automobile insurance.
Madam Justice Ramsay joined Blouin Dunn LLP in 2015. She has served on the Civil Rules Committee and on the boards of the Ontario Bar Association, Canadian Defence Lawyers, and the Women’s Law Association of Ontario. She has chaired the Canadian Bar Association Sections Subcommittee, the OBA Civil Litigation Section, the OBA Insurance Law Section, as well as the Financial Services Commission of Ontario Counsel Forum. She has developed numerous professional development programs and is a frequent speaker, and she was one of the architects of the OBA’s Anatomy of a Trial advocacy program.
As Chair of NourishHOPE, Justice Ramsay helped to raise funds to benefit the work of the International Justice Mission Canada, rescuing individuals from modern day slavery and raising awareness of human trafficking.
Justice Ramsay is the 2020 recipient of the OBA Distinguished Service Award. She was inducted into the University of Ottawa Common Law Honour Society in 2018 and received the Lexpert Zenith Award in 2017, as well as the Linda Adlam Manning Award in 2010 from the OBA for volunteerism.
Justice Narissa Somji was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to parents of South Asian origin and immigrated to Canada in the 1970s. She earned a B.A. from McGill University in 1989, an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa in 1994, and an LL.M specializing in criminal law from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2009. She was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1996.
Madam Justice Somji started her career as a Crown counsel in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she prosecuted Criminal Code offences and helped launch restorative justice initiatives in Indigenous communities. She returned to Ottawa in 2004 to review wrongful conviction applications on behalf of the Minister of Justice. In 2008, she joined the Department of Justice Competition Bureau legal services unit, where she provided legal advice on mergers, civil and criminal matters under the Competition Act. In 2012, Justice Somji joined the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and specialized in the prosecution of Competition Act offences, regulatory offences, and economic crimes. She has conducted prosecutions in Ontario, Quebec, the Yukon, and Nunavut.
Throughout her life, Justice Somji has been an active volunteer and educator. She taught English in the Congo, instructed criminology students at Yukon College, and mentored students attending the University of Ottawa Law School. She has volunteered with community programs within the Ismaili Muslim community, the Chelsea Nordiq Cross Country Ski Club, and, more recently, the Catholic Centre for Immigrants in Ottawa.
Justice Somji resides in Ottawa with her spouse, Toby Sanger, and their two children.
Justice Jana Steele was born in Toronto and raised in Georgetown, Ontario, graduating from Georgetown District High School. She completed her Commerce degree at Queen’s University, and her legal studies at Western University in London, Ontario, where she was also president of the Student Legal Society and a recipient of the Dean Ivan C. Rand Award.
After her call to the bar in 1997, Madam Justice Steele worked at Stikeman Elliott LLP and was a partner at Goodmans LLP and, most recently, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. She started as a taxation associate at Stikemans and later transitioned to trusts, estates, and the growing and important area of pensions law while at Goodmans. Prior to her appointment, Justice Steele was an industry-leading practitioner at Oslers, with experience in all aspects of pensions law, including plan design, administration, governance, restructuring and insolvency, and complex transactional work.
Justice Steele has chaired the pensions and benefits executive for the Ontario Bar Association and the Steering Committee for the International Pension & Employee Benefits Lawyers Association. She was also a member of the legal advisory committee to the former pension regulator, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, for many years.
Justice Steele and her husband, who is also a lawyer, have a wonderful teenage daughter and an energetic two-year-old son to keep them young. She is an avid reader, and keeps active swimming, walking and biking.
Justice Catriona Verner was born in Kingston and lived in a variety of places throughout her youth, including New Zealand, Japan and Europe. She returned to Kingston to complete an undergraduate degree in Commerce.
While working on her degree, Madam Justice Verner started volunteering with the John Howard Society. Through her work with those serving life sentences at Kingston Penitentiary, she developed an interest in criminal law and turned her focus to legal studies. She graduated from Queen’s Law School in 1999 and began a practice in criminal defence work. She completed articles at what was then known as Hicks Block Adams LLP and continued as an associate specializing in criminal appeals until she left the firm in 2016. Since then she has been practising with Lockyer Campbell Posner LLP, where her work has been almost exclusively at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Justice Verner has spoken at conferences, published several papers, lectured at multiple law schools, and been asked to appear at the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of the Ontario criminal defence bar as an intervenor for the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.
Justice Verner, her husband, Corbin Cawkell, and their six-year-old daughter are active members of the Republic of Rathnelly community in Toronto.
Justice Renu J. Mandhane received her J.D. from the University of Toronto, articled at Torys LLP, and was admitted to the Law Society of Ontario in 2002. She received her LL.M. from New York University in 2003, publishing her thesis in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.
Madam Justice Mandhane practised criminal law with with Diane Oleskiw (now Justice Oleskiw of the Ontario Court of Justice) from 2003 to 2008. She advocated for the rights of women as accused persons, complainants in sexual assault matters, and prisoners. She led the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program from 2009 to 2015. As an adjunct professor, she mentored students, educated judges through the National Judicial Institute, and made presentations at the United Nations. She appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in Chevron v Yaiguaje and Ezokola v Canada.
Justice Mandhane was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2015. She appeared before parliamentary standing committees and led public inquiries into discrimination in policing, education and child welfare. Under her leadership, the OHRC obtained an order from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario requiring Ontario to prohibit segregation for prisoners with mental health disabilities. Ms. Mandhane’s work has been recognized by the International Commission of Jurists, the Office of the Correctional Investigator, Excellence Canada, Canadian Lawyer Magazine, and Desi Magazine. In 2018, she was gifted an eagle feather in recognition of her efforts to advance Indigenous reconciliation.
Justice Mandhane was born and raised in Calgary by Indian immigrant parents. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.
At the Superior Court level, more than 380 judges have been appointed since November 2015. These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada. Of these judges, more than half are women, and appointments reflect an increased representation of visible minorities, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S, and those who self-identify as having a disability.
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting access to justice for all Canadians. To improve outcomes for Canadian families, Budget 2018 provides funding of $77.2 million over four years to support the expansion of unified family courts, beginning in 2019-2020. This investment in the family justice system will create 39 new judicial positions in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
In addition, Budget 2018 provides funding for a further seven judicial positions in Saskatchewan and Ontario, at a cost of $17.1 million over five years.
Federal judicial appointments are made by the Governor General, acting on the advice of the federal Cabinet and recommendations from the Minister of Justice.
The Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada play a key role in evaluating judicial applications. There are 17 Judicial Advisory Committees, with each province and territory represented.
Significant reforms to the role and structure of the Judicial Advisory Committees, aimed at enhancing the independence and transparency of the process, were announced on October 20, 2016.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada