By Department of Justice Canada | Government of Canada
On April 24, 2023, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the following appointments 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.
The Honourable William T. deWit, a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, is appointed a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of Alberta in Calgary. Justice deWit fills the last of three positions allocated further to the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1.
The Honourable Jane A. Fagnan, a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, is appointed a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of Alberta in Edmonton. Justice Fagnan replaces Justice R. Khullar (Edmonton), who was appointed Chief Justice effective November 25, 2022.
The Honourable April D. Grosse, a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, is appointed a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of Alberta in Calgary. Justice Grosse replaces Justice E.A. Hughes (Calgary), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective June 30, 2021.
Lisa Silver, Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law, is appointed a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary. Justice Silver replaces Justice W.T. deWit (Calgary), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal of Alberta effective April 21, 2023.
Allison Kuntz, Partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Calgary, is appointed a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary. Justice Kuntz replaces Justice A.D. Grosse (Calgary), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal of Alberta effective April 21, 2023.
Kent J. Teskey, K.C., Partner at Pringle Chivers Sparks Teskey in Edmonton, is appointed a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta in Edmonton. Justice Teskey replaces Justice J.A. Fagnan (Edmonton), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal of Alberta effective April 21, 2023.
“I wish Justices deWit, Fagnan, Grosse, Silver, Kuntz, and Teskey every success as they take on their new roles. I am confident they will serve Albertans well as members of the Court of Appeal and the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta.”
—The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Justice William T. deWit was appointed to the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta in 2017. He earned his LL.B. from the University of Alberta in 1994 and was called to the Bar of Alberta in 1995.
At the time of his appointment to the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, Justice deWit had been practising with Wolch deWit Watts & Wilson since 1996, where he became a partner in 2000. His practice focused on criminal law and quasi-criminal offences for over twenty years.
Before embarking on a career in law, Justice deWit was an Olympic and professional boxer. His boxing titles include a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal (1982), the World Amateur Heavyweight Boxing Championship (1983-1984), and an Olympic Games Silver Medal (1984).
Justice Jane A. Fagnan, who is fluent in French and English, was appointed to the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta in 2018. She received a B.Mus. from the University of Alberta in 1986, completed one year of the Français langue seconde program at Université Laval in 1987, and earned an LL.B. from Université Laval in 1990. She was admitted to the Alberta bar in 1992. In 2011, she received an LL.M. from Osgoode Hall Law School, with a double concentration in criminal law and health law.
At the time of her appointment to the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, Justice Fagnan was a legal counsel with the Court of King’s Bench in Edmonton, where she had worked continuously for almost 20 years. She worked on substantive matters involving issues in criminal, administrative, family, commercial, estate and other areas of law. She was also involved in the work of various Court committees and she created educational resources, provided language assistance on French files, and played a primary role in the administration of the Court’s articling program.
During her legal career, Justice Fagnan was active in the Research Section of the Canadian Bar Association and in the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Alberta.
Justice April D. Grosse, who is fluent in French and English, was appointed to the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta in 2018. She earned her B.A. in 1994 and her LL.B. in 1997 from the University of Saskatchewan, where she was awarded the Law Society of Saskatchewan Gold Medal. She was admitted to the Alberta bar in 1999.
At the time of her appointment to the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, Justice Grosse was with Bennett Jones, where she had been a partner since 2006 and a member of the Board of Directors since 2015. She maintained a diverse litigation practice, with particular experience in commercial, estates, policing and administrative law matters. She has been recognized by publications such as Chambers Global, Lexpert, and Benchmark’s Top 25 Women in Litigation in Canada.
Justice Grosse remains committed to maintaining proficiency in both official languages and has enjoyed volunteer work with organizations that promote bilingualism. She has also volunteered in the legal and wider community through roles with the Calgary Bar Association, the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute, the Centre for Professional Legal Education, and the Scarboro Community Association.
Justice Lisa Silver is a proud Calgarian, educator, and long-serving community volunteer. She obtained her B.A. (UWO, Economics) in 1984, her LL.B. (Osgoode) in 1987, and her LL.M. (UCalgary) in 2001. She is a member of the Ontario (1989) and Alberta (1998) bars.
Justice Silver started her legal career in Toronto, where she articled for and then practised criminal trial and appellate litigation with Brian Greenspan and David Humphrey. She argued hundreds of appeals before all levels of court. She was a part-time presiding Justice of the Peace from 1999 to 2001. At the same time, she returned to law school for her LL.M. She started her own legal research practice while teaching in the Justice Studies Department at Mount Royal University.
Justice Silver joined the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law, in 2016. She taught legislation, criminal law, and evidence law and was the director of the intensive advocacy course. She received the Howard Tidswell Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016-2017 and the Student Union Award for Teaching Excellence in 2021-2022. Her educational interests go beyond the classroom through her involvement in judicial education, particularly her affiliation with the National Judicial Institute. As a professor, she published on an extensive array of topics, including sentencing, judicial decision making, the admissibility of expert and social media evidence, and legal education. She is the co-author of Criminal Law Defences, 5th Edition. As an avid blogger, she maintained her own award-winning law blog and podcast, and contributed to the Faculty’s ABlawg website. One of her ABlawg articles was the first criminal law blog to be cited in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Justice Silver has an abiding love for community, expressed by her volunteerism, which has spanned every facet of her life since her teens. Since law school, she has been a passionate advocate for access to justice and served on the Board of Calgary Legal Guidance.
Justice Allison Kuntz was raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and has been living in Calgary, Alberta, since 2010. She received a Bachelor of Music in Performance from Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana) and a Bachelor of Laws from Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario). She was called to the Ontario bar in 2004, the Alberta bar in 2010, and the Saskatchewan bar in 2023.
Justice Kuntz was a commercial litigator for 19 years, practising first at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP and more recently at Stikeman Elliott LLP. Her commercial practice exposed her to legal issues arising in a wide range of areas, including oil and gas, pharmaceutical, construction, torts, contracts, competition, consumer protection, arbitration, supply-chain management, securities , and plans of arrangement.
While in private practice, Justice Kuntz was an enthusiastic mentor and involved in firm management. She also thoroughly enjoyed the teaching opportunities she was given by the Legal Education Society of Alberta and The Advocates’ Society. She was also a Director on Boards for various not-for-profit organizations. In 2022, she was recognized by Benchmark Litigation Canada as a Litigation Star in Arbitration, General Commercial Litigation, Energy and Class Action, and by Best Lawyers in Canada.
Justice Kent J. Teskey, K.C., was born and raised in Edmonton. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Alberta. He was called to the Alberta bar in 2005.
Justice Teskey has practised as a criminal defence lawyer across Western Canada and the Northwest Territories for his entire career. He articled with Peter Royal, K.C., and then practised in the firm that became Royal Teskey Barristers. In 2013, he joined the firm of Pringle Chivers Sparks Teskey. He was appointed King’s Counsel in 2016.
Justice Teskey served as a bencher of the Law Society of Alberta between 2015 and 2021 and was elected president of the Law Society of Alberta in 2020. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta from 2011 to 2020. He was the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Legal Aid Alberta and has been a proud member of the Legal Aid Roster throughout his career.
Justice Teskey has been married to his wife Joylyn for 20 years, and together they are raising two thoughtful and interesting children, Griffin and Quinn.
- At the Superior Court level, more than 605 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.