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Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces a judicial appointment in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador

August 28, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada

The Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment 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.

Leanne M. O’Leary, K.C., Managing Partner at Cox & Palmer in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, General Division. Justice O’Leary replaces Justice K.J. O’Brien (St. John’s – General Division), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal on October 20, 2022. The Chief Justice has transferred Justice P.W. Osborne (Gander) into this vacancy. The vacancy is therefore located in Gander.


“I wish Justice O’Leary every success as she takes on her new role. I am confident she will serve serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador well as a member of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

–The Hon. Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada


Justice Leanne M. O’Leary, K.C., was raised in Portugal Cove South, Newfoundland and Labrador. She earned a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Co-operative from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1992 and a Bachelor of Laws from Queen’s University in 1995. She was admitted to the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in April 1996.

Justice O’Leary practiced her entire career with Cox & Palmer and its predecessor firms. She has focused her practice on civil and commercial litigation, personal injury and insurance law, and has consistently been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada and Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading practitioner in those areas. She has been a partner with Cox & Palmer since 2001, serving as Managing Partner of its St. John’s office since November 2017. She was appointed King’s Counsel in February 2023.

Throughout her career, Justice O’Leary has contributed to her profession by serving two terms as an Elected Bencher of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador from 2012 to 2020 and as a Member and former Chair of the Law Society’s Education Committee. She was a regular instructor of Civil Procedure at the Law Society’s Bar Admission Course. Her volunteer work included former Board positions with the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and the YM-YWCA of St. John’s, for which she was a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Justice O’Leary, and her husband Mitch Rumbolt, enjoy sharing their passion for the outdoors with their two daughters spending countless hours discovering the natural beauty of this country.

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has appointed more than 645 judges 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 racialized persons, 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.


For more information, media may contact:

Chantal Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada