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Judson Addresses Court at Swearing-In of Fort Frances Judge

Remarks

For immediate release: November 16, 2023

Today Douglas W. Judson addressed the Ontario Court of Justice on behalf of the Rainy River District Law Association and the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, on the occasion of the swearing-in of Justice Terry Waltenbury, a new judge appointed to Fort Frances. His remarks were as follows (check against delivery):


"Good afternoon, Chief Justice, Regional Senior Justice, Justices, Justices of the Peace, members of the bar, and distinguished guests.


"My name is Douglas Judson. I am the president of the Rainy River District Law Association and the chair of the Federation of Ontario Law Associations. I thank the Regional Senior Justice for the opportunity to address the court today.


"Justice Waltenbury, today is, without doubt, a very special occasion in your remarkable career at court. Our bar is delighted to welcome you to this court house and to our community.


"We have imagined who our new judge might be for a long, long time. Your appointment reflects many of the qualities of an ideal candidate for this posting – someone who understands the unique challenges of the north, someone that would need to put down some roots in our community rather than commute, and someone who will administer their court with an awareness of the pressures of running a private practice, like the kind most of the lawyers who appear before you will come from.


"We welcome you to our court and wish you many happy and successful years here in the Rainy River District. Our law association hopes to have an opportunity to celebrate your arrival in the near future.


"Now, without taking anything away from Justice Waltenbury, I also want to acknowledge that today is a special day for our community and our bar. It has taken more than a decade of advocacy by leaders in this community to see this vacancy filled.


"Through successive provincial governments, the Rainy River District Law Association has worked tirelessly to see a judge appointed in Fort Frances. I want to acknowledge my predecessor, our past president Barbara Morgan, as well as her late husband, Rob, who had their shoulders to the wheel for many of those years, as well as other members of our association who have advocated to make sure that this remains a full-service court with more than whistle-stop justice.


"The Town of Fort Frances and other district municipalities have also spoken out in support of having this judicial vacancy filled, and I want to acknowledge our MPP, the Honourable Greg Rickford, and Attorney General Doug Downey for their commitment to our bar and the community to do everything they could to fill this position.


"Both Mr. Rickford and Mr. Downey have acknowledged that Fort Frances was not a satellite of Kenora or Thunder Bay, but its own judicial seat that needs to be properly resourced to serve the people of our district.


"And we, of course, also extend our gratitude to the Chief Justice for assigning this position to our court.


"In my work with Ontario’s 46 county and district law associations, we recognize the importance of local justice systems. Appellate courts tell us that access to justice is improved when people are assisted by those who understand their community, their lived experience, or their culture or identity.


"These statements usually arise in the context of effective legal representation, but the same is true of the bench. When our judges have ties to the communities they serve, they are able to make better decisions. It leads to better outcomes for the people before the court when the judge knows the local geography, history, the legacy of colonization and residential schools, and the availability of basic services and transportation. Her Worship Clysdale-Cornell is living proof of this, I want to recognize her longstanding service to this court today as well.


"Importantly today, at a time when faith in so many of our institutions is in decline, having decisions made in this court by people who will live in our community upholds public confidence in the administration of justice. It does so because it means that outside of this room, we are neighbours.


"Justice Waltenbury, we welcome you to Fort Frances and the Rainy River District. We are delighted to have you become our neighbour, and we look forward to your leadership of the court here in the Rainy River District in the years to come.


"Thank you. Miigwetch."


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Read about Justice Waltenbury's swearing-in here and here.

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