By Department of Justice Canada
On Feb. 6, 2023, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the following appointment under the judicial application process established in 2016. This process emphasizes transparency, merit, and the diversity of the Canadian population, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.
Loretta P. Merritt, Partner at Torkin Manes LLP in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in Toronto. Justice Merritt replaces Justice B.P. O’Marra (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective August 29, 2022.
“I wish Justice Merritt every success as she takes on her new role. I am confident she will serve Ontarians well as a member of the Superior Court of Justice.”
—The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Loretta P. Merritt graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1985 and obtained a Masters degree in Constitutional Law from Osgoode in 1990. She was called to the Ontario bar in 1987.
Justice Merritt has spent her entire career at Torkin Manes LLP. She first practised general litigation and then personal injury, labour and employment law; for the last two decades, she practised civil sexual assault litigation.
Justice Merritt has always been passionate about teaching and mentoring, and spent significant time volunteering in the legal community. She has been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada and Lexpert and is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. She has Martindale-Hubbell’s highest possible Peer Review Rating and was the recipient of the Attorney General’s Victim Services Award of Distinction for 2021-2022 and of the 2018 Ontario Trial Lawyers Association’s John A. McLeish Award for outstanding contribution to the goals of a fair trial and access to justice as an advocate. Justice Merritt was also a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal, commemorating the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne, in recognition of her contributions to Canada in representing abuse survivors, and the recipient of the Litigation Counsel of America’s inaugural Peter Perlman Service Award. The award recognizes LCA Fellows who have contributed in meaningful ways to society by giving their time and resources in an effort to improve the lives of others.
- At the Superior Court level, more than 580 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, 2SLGBTQI+, and those who self-identify as having a disability.
- To support the needs of the courts and improve access to justice for all Canadians, the Government of Canada is committed to increasing the capacity of superior courts. Budget 2022 provides for 22 new judicial positions, along with two associate judges at the Tax Court of Canada. Along with the 13 positions created under Budget 2021, this makes a total of 37 newly created superior court positions. Since Budget 2017, the government has funded 116 new judicial positions.
- Changes to the Questionnaire for Federal Judicial Appointments were announced in September 2022. The questionnaire continues to provide for a robust and thorough assessment of candidates but has been streamlined and updated to incorporate, among other things, more respectful and inclusive language for individuals to self-identify diversity characteristics.
- 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.
- The Government of Canada is committed to promoting a justice system in which sexual assault matters are decided fairly, without the influence of myths and stereotypes, and in which survivors are treated with dignity and compassion. Changes to the Judges Act and Criminal Code that came into force on May 6, 2021, mean that in order to be eligible for appointment to a provincial superior court, candidates must agree to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination. The new legislation enhances the transparency of decisions by amending the Criminal Code to require that judges provide written reasons, or enter them into the record, when deciding sexual assault matters.