Whitehorse Daily Star

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LAWYER APPOINTED TO YUKON SUPREME COURT – Suzanne Duncan, seen this morning in Whitehorse, will succeed Yukon Supreme Court Leigh Gower, who died Oct. 29.

Local lawyer named to Yukon Supreme Court

The Yukon will soon be getting a third Supreme Court justice, as the federal government has appointed Whitehorse lawyer Suzanne Duncan.

By Gord Fortin on December 4, 2018

The Yukon will soon be getting a third Supreme Court justice, as the federal government has appointed Whitehorse lawyer Suzanne Duncan.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, the federal Justice Minister and Attorney General, announced the appointment last Friday in a press release posted to the ministry’s website.

Duncan, who is not doing media interviews, will be filling the gap left after Justice Leigh Gower died Oct. 29.

Mark Wallace, the Law Society of Yukon president, spoke with the Star Monday about the appointment.

“We now have a third judge (in the Supreme Court) again, which is good,” Wallace said.

He has had many dealings with Duncan, as she was the vice-president of the law society, and he noted they have worked together for the past three years.

Wallace feels she is a great choice for Supreme Court justice, describing her as a thoughtful and hard worker – qualities one would want in a judge.

“I think she was an excellent choice,” he said.

He believes one of her strengths is her ability to take in multiple points of view during discussions and to remain inquisitive.

Wallace explained that it will take some time for Duncan to receive the proper training, and thus will not be hearing cases right off the bat. He added that usually, appointees are given some time to wrap up their ongoing work.

Once that stage is completed, Wallace said, a date would be set for the appointment to become effective.

Overall, he feels Duncan should be up to the challenge. Calling her a remarkable addition to the territory’s judiciary, he added that she could really do some good from the bench.

Duncan holds both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. She received the bachelors in 1982 and 1986 respectively.

She also received a Masters of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in 2000.

Her career began in Toronto, where she gained experience practising labour law, civil law and immigration law.

Duncan joined the federal Department of Justice in 2001 in Toronto, and eventually transferred to Whitehorse in 2006.

Once in the territory, she focused on Aboriginal law and Crown liability.

She went on to become the lawyer for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in early 2018.

“Working for a self-governing First Nation increased her knowledge and respect for the unique Yukon First Nation final agreements, and allowed her to participate in the exciting challenges and opportunities of implementing the agreements,” the release said.

“The privilege of gaining greater understanding of the experiences and culture of a Yukon First Nation and assisting in their creative journey towards self-determination has been the highlight of her career to date.”

Duncan has held multiple positions in the territory’s law society, including executive and chair of discipline.

She was involved with the Yukon Legal Services Society, serving as the chair of the board of directors.

During her time with the society, she worked to give greater access to justice for people of more modest means.

The Star reached out to the federal ministry for comment on Duncan’s appointment, but no one responded.

Comments (3)

Up 5 Down 4

MarcP on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:46 pm


Up 13 Down 2

Judge Not on Dec 5, 2018 at 7:29 pm

@ Sure Hope - Things are going to get much worse for the Yukon in terms of accountable justice. You have a power hungry judiciary, an uneducated, narcissistic, top-layer of autocrats making decisions for Justice and an absolutely demoralized civil service who have voiced their concerns publicly with the Employee Engagement Survey - They suck - Approval ratings below 50%.

You do not have to wait long between articles to hear one more way in which these management deadbeats are absolutely screwing over their employees with their bad decision making. Did they really think they could fake everyone out by just changing the name of solitary confinement? Get rid of the idiots. They have brought the administration of justice great shame, great, great shame!

This new Judge too will know little or nothing other than her own legal training and will make highly-justified, well-rationalized decisions that will also make a mockery of the ideals of justice. It is the Yukon way. She is a proponent of the Gladue Games - May the odds be ever in your favour.

Then there is Judge Judy presiding over her Cannibis Wellness Club doling out lenient sentences for no reason at all. Driving while stoned... You weren’t drinking? Okay, here is your license back. You done well!
Really though it seems as if there is a race by all those who have some pull in the game to find ever new lows of ignorance... How low can Justice go...

Yukon Justice - We’ve all heard about it but no one can find it... Maybe we should check the bench? Sure as smitt the judges are sitting on it!

Up 26 Down 1

Sure hope that she does the territory justice.... on Dec 4, 2018 at 8:10 pm

I sure hope that she will do 'justice' for our territory. What do I mean? Real consequences for crimes, esp. crimes that youth commit. For example, you paint ball little girls and you're a juvie, you do some time at Youth Offenders Facility. Makes me sick when you can commit any crimes as a youth and face zero consequences, which happens here when you shoot paintballs at children or murder a teen and get three years for it. And...if you're an adult and you do crimes, pay the price! Sick of stupid legal decisions in this town that amount to enabling of toxic behaviour. Use the law and its consequences to the highest degree!!!

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