Whitehorse Daily Star

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Madam Justice Karen Wenckebach

Appointment creates all-female Supreme Court

For the first time, the Supreme Court of Yukon is comprised of three resident judges who are women.

By Whitehorse Star on December 1, 2020

For the first time, the Supreme Court of Yukon is comprised of three resident judges who are women.

Karen Wenckebach, a Yukon government lawyer, has been appointed to the court.

She replaces Suzanne Duncan, who was appointed as the court’s chief justice effective Sept. 30, replacing Ron Veale, who had retired the previous July.

The other judge is Edith Campbell, who was appointed in 2018.

“I wish Justice Wenckebach continued success as she takes on her new role,” said David Lametti, the federal minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, who announced the appointment last week.

“I am confident she will serve Yukoners well as a member of the Supreme Court of Yukon.”

Wenckebach, the daughter of Argentinian immigrants, was born in Calgary and raised in Thunder Bay, Ont.

She began her post-secondary education at Montreal’s McGill University, where she earned a B.A. in History with a Minor in Women’s Studies, followed by a Special Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.

After working as a crisis counsellor, she continued her studies at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School. She earned an LL.B. in 2002, and was called to the bar in Ontario in 2003.

Wenckebach began her career as a law clerk to the justices and judges of the Yukon Supreme Court and Territorial Court.

After taking time off to begin a family, she joined the Yukon Legal Services Society in 2007 and practised family, poverty, and criminal law.

She continued her career with the territorial government, serving as legal counsel from 2013. During this time, she specialized in labour, human rights, and administrative law.

Wenckebach served her professional community in such roles as second vice-president and then secretary of the Law Society of the Yukon and member of the discipline committee of the Law Society of Yukon.

She has planned a media availability session for Thursday afternoon in Whitehorse.

“Justice Wenckebach has two wonderful girls and two enthusiastic if not always well-behaved dogs,” said a release announcing her appointment.

“She speaks Spanish fluently. She enjoys reading everything from classic literature to cyber-punk dystopian novels, running, and going on adventures with her partner in Yukon’s wilderness.”

Aside from the three resident judges, other senior judges from elsewhere in Canada can visit the territory to hear specific cases where needed.

At the Superior Court level, more than 415 judges have been appointed since November 2015.

“These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada,” said the release.

“Of these judges, more than half are women, and appointments reflect an increased representation of visible minorities, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S, and those who self-identify as having a disability.

“The Government of Canada is committed to promoting access to justice for all Canadians.”

To improve outcomes for Canadian families, Budget 2018 provides funding of $77.2 million over four years to support the expansion of unified family courts, beginning in 2019-2020, it pointed out.

That investment in the family justice system will create 39 new judicial positions in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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 such committees, with each province and territory represented.

Comments (29)

Up 11 Down 1

Groucho d;North on Dec 7, 2020 at 3:09 pm

@ Chocco Blocco
Everybody has to start somewhere I agree, but from my viewpoint it is about the ideology of the judge. Their job is to interpret the laws and the severity of how they were violated. Contrary to what many think, justice - or what some believe it is - is not a consideration. However if the Judge believes they are some form of social scientist and they can correct our communities woes by how they hand out sentences, well we have witnessed this approach in the past and look where we are today. I also believe the courts need to be accountable for their mistakes. If Judges were elected by the public they serve, this would not be too hard to apply, but they are political appointees and the criteria used to select one never seems to get displayed at large.
I recall a former Judge who ordered Dawson City to install a sewage treatment system many said was not adequate- turns out it wasn't and much more tax money got spent because of this order. Where's the accountability?
Perhaps Ms. Wenckebach is the ticket we have been hoping for, as I said previously below, I'll give her some time on the job before I make an opinion about her performance.

Up 11 Down 8

Chocco blocco on Dec 7, 2020 at 10:37 am

Do you folks realize where all the other Supreme and Territorial Judges sat before they were appointed?
Think hard, it won't hurt that much.

Would you just appoint some fresh faced kid from Ontario that just finished up articulating in traffic court?

Up 32 Down 10

C Bukowski on Dec 4, 2020 at 11:35 pm

@Groucho my friend, you strike me as a fellow pragmatist, but alas...wasn't 'hiring the most qualified person for the job' deemed a micro-aggression some time ago ? I wish I was joking...

This appointment smells, Yukoners. Open up your nostrils, and perhaps your eyes and ears. It's fair and reasonable to say that KW is among the more senior female lawyers currently living in the Yukon. Ok, sure. She also has two dogs, in the interest of diversity no doubt. She worked for YG in some capacity, which we KNOW only employs the creme de la creme of legal minds. It's like an episode of 'Suits' every day of the week over there. She was recently quoted re her ascension to Supreme Court Judge as saying, 'It's pretty neat'.... I'll say. Pretty neat indeed.

In regards to the incessant platitudes about diversity, can we stop ignoring the fact that women have been dominating anything remotely resembling a profession for quite some time now? Pick your field...medicine, law, education ? I'll wait for someone to suggest one where men aren't all but extinct. I think we've still got bricklaying, plumbing, prison populations, and suicide rates to hang our collective hats on....but I digress....

I must retire for the night under my warm blanket of toxic masculinity; I shall dream of world domination I'm sure. Or perhaps bricklaying.
Good luck Yukon, I fear you'll need it.

Up 16 Down 23

A on Dec 4, 2020 at 9:45 pm

I find it interesting that so many people are incensed by the court being all-female. Were you equally enraged by it being all-male from its founding until 2018? I don't remember reading a single complaint in all those years.

Up 24 Down 3

Al on Dec 4, 2020 at 9:23 pm

...and some wonder why the public is so cynical of the so called legal system and the "appointment" of those to the bench. No wonder we are in so much trouble...

Up 14 Down 5

Femme Fatalist on Dec 4, 2020 at 5:21 pm

Good point Jack - This is the kind of shite that brings the administration of Justice into disrepute. The bullshite about Judicial Independence... Hahahaha... Is supposed to be there for the protection of the public - NOT - The judges. They should know that they have a relatively short expiry date and be subject to replacement so that we have judgments that reflect the will of the people as embodied in the laws that govern the relationships between people rather than some abstract megalomaniacal concretization of wishful thinking created in the whimsy of political aspirations and feel good titillations... SMH!

Up 24 Down 5

Femme Fatalist on Dec 4, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Dear Oya - I absolutely agree with your position. A lawyer for the state now sits in judgement for the state. We have enough corruption and conflicts of interest within the government/legal system already in the Yukon FFS!

This is disgusting! It should not have happened! Then there is the diversity issue - Again, absolutely disgusting but then so was the all guys club! It’s not like these people are actually intelligent in a meaningful way... So, you get what you voted for. Hopefully, lefty-Liberalism will burn itself out soon so that we can stop swinging with pendulum from left to right. We need reason back and this all femme court is not reasonable.

Up 38 Down 12

Oya on Dec 4, 2020 at 9:44 am

No YG lawyer should EVER be appointed to a judge position in the Yukon. Talk about a conflict of interest.
Now that she knows all YG's legal tricks, will she use that to advance YG's agenda or will she use that knowledge to uphold the proper administration of justice? I'm guessing it will be the former and not the latter. Just watch any judgment where YG is a party and I'd put money on it that YG always always, always wins.
Not happy to see this specific appointment regardless of her gender or even her skills and abilities. It does not bode well for anyone trying to litigate against YG.

Up 31 Down 7

Deep breath on Dec 3, 2020 at 7:12 pm

We’ve had all dudes running the Supreme Court since it came into existence a hundred years ago. I can’t say as I’ve been happy with many of their rulings (aside from the Peel case) so let’s see what an all Woman Supreme Court can do for the next hundred. It’s gonna be okay fellas.

Personally I’d like to see:

* much harsher sentences for violent offenders
* more serious conditions for the first timers just coming into the system and
* escalating sentence for habitual offenders, I’m sure it’s 1% of criminals who occupy 99% of court time.

Up 7 Down 9

TheHammmer on Dec 3, 2020 at 4:09 pm

just sayin@ your comment is so cryptic it definitely falls into the category of something off the wall. I don't subscribe to any of the social platforms you mentioned. The level of paranoid totalitarian take over the world racism or female phobia that goes on in the comments, I just had to address myself to the males that are off the wall. if you want to put yourself on the list, carry on.

Up 22 Down 6

Enchained in Bitterness on Dec 3, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Hur dur,
You sound like a person who is enslaved to bitterness and bound with regret. I feel so much more sorry for you than those you were angrily targeting in your comment. You've convinced yourself that your targets are "phased out, replaced, obsolete", and it makes you feel good to label them as such. It is in vain, though. Your self-made opponents are much better off than you, considering your frustration with life.

Up 32 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Dec 3, 2020 at 3:03 pm

I am working to not jump to conclusions and I will reserve comment until this new judge has a bit of history we can measure as performance. I do object to positions being filled by gender and even racial representation, as it should be the person who does best in the employment screening that should get the job. But as both the federal and territorial government have demonstrated clearly visible attributes to support their virtuous viewpoints have more value for the taxpayers than abilities. And they call it progress.

Up 31 Down 8

Anie on Dec 3, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Hur dur - I really tried to understand what you seem to be trying to say. But your bitterness makes it difficult. I think you are saying that anyone who doesn't see the world your way is a senior, and for sone unfathomable reason, you seem to very much dislike seniors. Have I got that right?

Up 7 Down 29

Just Sayin' on Dec 3, 2020 at 11:56 am

@TheHammer and @HurDur

I am a female BIPOC . Oh no, an outlier that does not fall within your assumption... Aghast, whatever shall you do? Better put something out on Snapchat, Insta, and/or TickTok to ensure you have some form of external validation of your minimal real world education.
FYI Santa isn't real.

Up 33 Down 12

Dave on Dec 3, 2020 at 11:05 am

The Liberals and left have never been about equality. That's just an cover they use to bring in socialism, does anyone really have a sliver of doubt anymore which agenda is being pushed onto Canadians?

Up 12 Down 39

TheHammer on Dec 3, 2020 at 10:06 am

This is not about sex, it's about qualifications. That said, it does not necessarily mean justice will prevail. And as far as justice goes, the comments page once again becomes a platform for sufferers from political psychosis, split consciousness, right wing neo Nazi conspiracy theorists; the usual class of socially retarded single males.

Up 22 Down 51

Hur dur on Dec 3, 2020 at 7:40 am

Uh oh. Old white guy behavior might start being checked. The world is ending.
Unless you are not old. And white. And male.
You old and anonymous cry babies are hilarious. Good thing you are aging out and the youth are not replacing your political ideology. Phased out, replaced, obsolete. I understand your fear. It makes me happy.

To quote the great philosopher Nelson muntz "ha ha!"

Up 43 Down 4

jack on Dec 3, 2020 at 1:11 am

It's 2020, why do these judges still have jobs for life and not have to face periodic reviews for re-appointment and public scrutiny on their performance?

Up 46 Down 4

Anie on Dec 2, 2020 at 4:32 pm

I wonder if I will live to see the day when this type of announcement doesn't even mention gender, let alone make it the headline. I demand, equality. But I will never be truly equal if I always have to be special.

Up 41 Down 11

JustSayin' on Dec 2, 2020 at 1:59 pm

The pendulum swings the other way. All lawyers are liberals, no? Maybe one of them identifies as a man? Nepotism is strong in the Yukon.

Up 63 Down 17

Arn Anderson on Dec 2, 2020 at 8:38 am

Wow, all one gender. Total lack of diversity and no inclusion.

Up 66 Down 12

Jimbo on Dec 2, 2020 at 7:26 am

This is sexist.... if there was a all male supreme count the feminist would be all over that calling it sexist and discrimination. Now the tables have turned.

Up 66 Down 14

Yukoner ‘71 on Dec 2, 2020 at 7:25 am

So she went straight from being a YG employee to becoming a judge on the Yukon Supreme Court, once again with no input on the appointment whatsoever from Yukoners. The politicians and bureaucrats really think they rule us with utter impunity now don’t they? In the past people rose up and fought against systems that unilaterally imposed this kind of thing on them. Today’s sheep seemingly fall in line for this with hardly a protest to be heard.

Up 20 Down 13

Buford T. Justice on Dec 2, 2020 at 4:58 am

Congratulations. What's an LLB, I may need to know for my xword puzzles?

Up 63 Down 12

Diversity is our strengtH on Dec 1, 2020 at 10:35 pm

So much for diversity.

Up 54 Down 21

Juniper Jackson on Dec 1, 2020 at 6:57 pm

I rather like men, in general. But then, I have never been badly treated by men either. Even in my old age, I find almost all the men I know to be kind, hard working, even the ones in my age group, kind people.

I feel the last bunch of years, they have taken a 'beating' from women, and ****** *******s like Trudeau.. unfairly deserved for most. Certainly not all, but, certainly tarred with the same brush as an abuser.
My point? This appointment does not bode well for you guys.

Up 43 Down 20

Josey Wales on Dec 1, 2020 at 4:37 pm

I think it fits perfect, the courts already clearly hate men...why not?
Buuut? I thought diversity was our strength? Not very diverse in our justice!

Or are we still eating that old sh*t of blind justice, all equal to the law?
If you believe that, you probably think Jeffery Epstein killed himself.

"At the Superior Court level, more than 415 judges have been appointed since November 2015." Given the idiot steering the ship of fools THAT my friends is a scary thought. Please remember this when you read of reoffending P'sOS.

Liberal Public Safety, three words that do not square.

Up 54 Down 22

JC on Dec 1, 2020 at 3:50 pm

Gee, all women. Aren't we lucky. All Liberals I'm sure. After all "diversity is our strength"! What ever that means.

Up 51 Down 25

Matthew on Dec 1, 2020 at 3:37 pm

“These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada,” said the release.
“Of these judges, more than half are women, and appointments reflect an increased representation of visible minorities, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S, and those who self-identify as having a disability.

Oh great.. more liberal judges pushing the UNs Agenda2030 where they say they are placing ALL women and girls above men and boys. All in the name of equality. Last I checked we already are all equal.. always have been, and the charter of rights says that, but of course that doesn't matter these days anyways.. what has happened to the best person for the job gets the job? But I'm sure that's too sexist, racist, fill in the blank..

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