Nova Scotia Increases Gender, Diversity Balance on Bench with Four Appointments

By Tutton, Michael | The Canadian Press, March 31, 2017 | Go to article overview

Nova Scotia Increases Gender, Diversity Balance on Bench with Four Appointments


Tutton, Michael, The Canadian Press


Nova Scotia nears gender balance on bench

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HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has appointed two black lawyers, an openly gay lawyer and a female Crown attorney as judges, bringing its provincial and family courts closer to gender and diversity balance.

Premier Stephen McNeil announced the appointments Friday of Rickcola Brinton, Amy Sakalauskas, Samuel Moreau and Rosalind Michie, bringing the number of full-time provincial and family court judges to 38, of which 18 are women and five are black.

The appointments come just two months after the province appointed the first Mi'kmaq woman, Catherine Benton, and the third black woman, Ronda van der Hoek, to the provincial and family courts -- after years of lobbying for greater judicial diversity from the province's black and indigenous communities.

Brinton is a black woman who has worked in legal aid for 15 years, while Sakalauskas, who is gay, is a Department of Justice lawyer who most recently practised in the child protection field and has worked nationally on LGBTQ issues.

Moreau is a black man who works with Nova Scotia Legal Aid's Port Hawkesbury office and has practised law for 18 years, and Michie has been a Crown counsel with the public prosecution service for 16 years.

The premier said in an interview that it was important to him when he took office in 2013 to mould a judiciary that better reflects the province's diversity.

"It's an important step in reconciliation. It's a step that's long overdue in my view. The bench should have been more diverse before now," said McNeil.

McNeil, who is 52, said when he grew up in the Annapolis Valley, he was proud his mother was the province's first female sheriff.

"We need minority representation, we need women doing all aspects of the workforce. …

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