Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Sheilah Martin to the Supreme Court of Canada. Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Sheilah Martin takes the seat of retiring Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.
Born and raised in Montreal, Martin is bilingual, holds bachelor degrees in in civil and common law from McGill University, a masters in law from University of Alberta, and a doctorate from University of Toronto.
Trudeau while announcing said, “I am confident that, with the wealth of experience she has gained over a distinguished 30-year career, she will be a valuable addition to the Supreme Court, an institution well respected in Canada and around the world for its strength, independence, and judicial excellence.”
Martin’s nomination retains the gender balance on the court at four women, five men, and surprised some who expected Trudeau to announce Canada’s first Indigenous appointment to the country’s top court.She was first appointed as a judge in 2005, to Alberta’s superior trial court, the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary, and last year the Trudeau government named her a judge of the Courts of Appeal of Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. She served as a deputy judge for the Supreme Court of Yukon since 2009.
Martin is an expert in judicial ethics, civil and common law, and practiced corporate and commercial law before joining the bench. In naming her, Trudeau’s announcement said Martin’s 33-year legal career “maintained a strong focus on education, equality rights and increasing the number of under-represented groups in law schools and the legal profession, including Indigenous Peoples.”
A background document the government posted along with Trudeau’s announcement says Martin’s practice “was wide-ranging and addressed issues of deep significance to Canadian society.
“She acted pro bono for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and the Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Centres in cases before the Supreme Court of Canada.”