NEWS
11/29/2017 04:39 EST | Updated 11/29/2017 05:01 EST

Trudeau names Sheilah Martin to Supreme Court of Canada

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Alberta-based judge Sheilah Martin to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Martin served on the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta in Calgary until June 2016 when she was appointed as a judge of the Courts of Appeal of Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Born and raised in Montreal, Martin was trained in both civil and common law before moving to Alberta to pursue her career as an educator, lawyer and judge.

The Prime Minister's Office cited her strong focus on education, equality rights and increasing the number of under-represented groups in law schools and the legal profession.

The nomination today ensures the nine-member bench will remain at full strength after Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin retires Dec. 15.

On Monday, the House of Commons justice committee will participate in a hearing during which Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Kim Campbell, chair of an independent advisory board for Supreme Court appointments, will explain the selection process and the reasons Martin was nominated.

The Commons justice committee and the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee — as well as representatives of the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party — will be invited to participate in a question-and-answer session with Martin on Tuesday.

Last year, the Liberal government brought in a new Supreme Court appointment process to encourage more openness and diversity, which also requires justices to be functionally bilingual.

Wilson-Raybould noted this week that the government sought applications from judges in western and northern Canada to fill the opening.

McLachlin is stepping down after 28 years on the court, including almost 18 years as chief.

A new chief justice is expected to be named soon.

McLachlin, 74, is the first woman to hold the top job on the high court and is also Canada’s longest-serving chief justice. She leaves about nine months before her legally mandated retirement on her 75th birthday in September 2018.

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