Today, the Alberta government appointed:
- Kristin Ailsby to Lethbridge Provincial Court
- Gregory Stirling, QC, to Calgary Criminal Division and Calgary Region
- Susan Pepper to Calgary Criminal Division and Calgary Region
- Rhonda Tibbitt to Edmonton Criminal Division
- Greg Rice to Vermilion Provincial Court
- Gay Benns to Calgary Family and Youth Division
“Throughout their careers, these six appointees have demonstrated a mastery of the law, a respect for the justice system and a commitment to improving the lives of Albertans. I am confident Kristin Ailsby, Gregory Stirling, Susan Pepper, Rhonda Tibbitt, Greg Rice and Gay Benns will serve Albertans well as members of the judiciary. These six appointments will continue to help address pressures on our justice system that have been growing for decades.”
The six new judges fill current and upcoming vacancies. Unlike Court of Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal justice positions, which the federal government appoints and funds, the province both creates Provincial Court judge positions and appoints judges to those positions.
Biographies of Alberta’s new Provincial Court judges
Kristin Ailsby received her bachelor of laws degree from the University of Alberta and became a member of the Alberta bar in 2003. Ailsby spent much of her legal career practising in a variety of fields before establishing her own firm, Clarity Law, in 2016. There she focused on family law, estate planning, estate administration and residential real estate transactions. Prior to her appointment, she served as an adjunct professor at the University of Lethbridge and a legal advisor at Lethbridge Legal Guidance. She is the chair of the board of governors of Lethbridge College.
Gregory Stirling, QC, received his bachelor of laws from Dalhousie University in 1984 and became a member of the Alberta bar in 1985. During his 30 years in the legal profession, he has handled a wide variety of civil litigation matters and developed a particular specialty in construction litigation. He is a director of the Alberta Law Foundation and a member of the Law Society of Alberta’s Audit and Finance Committee. He has volunteered for several community organizations including Calgary Legal Guidance and the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Association. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2010.
Susan Pepper received her bachelor of laws degree from the University of Calgary in 1996 and became a member of the Alberta bar in 1997. She has spent the entirety of her legal career as a Crown Prosecutor in Calgary and became Assistant Chief Crown Prosecutor in 2008. Besides handling several high-profile prosecutions, many involving violence against children and youth, she was the Calgary Crown Prosecutor’s project lead in the development of the electronic file management system. She is the past president of the Calgary Bar Association and an instructor with the Legal Education Society of Alberta, where she coaches junior lawyers to better advocacy.
Rhonda Tibbitt received her bachelor of laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1992 and a master of laws degree from Osgoode Professional Development at York University in 2015. She became a member of the Alberta bar in 2002. Starting in 1998, she worked as a prosecutor in Saskatchewan and Alberta and handled a full range of cases before developing a special interest in economic crime. In 2014, she became the director of the Civil Forfeiture Office, where she has been involved with reviewing and revising legislation and representing Alberta on national committees dealing with proceeds of crime and money laundering.
Greg Rice received his bachelor of laws degree from the University of Alberta in 1992 and a master of laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in 2012. He became a member of the Alberta bar in 1993. In 1998, he became a prosecutor in the Wetaskiwin and Edmonton offices of the Attorney General of Alberta. He has held various positions with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada since joining as a counsel in 2001, including leader of the Organized Crime Unit, Associate Chief Federal Prosecutor in the Edmonton office, and General Counsel. He is the past president of the Edmonton Bar Association. In addition to his legal work, Greg is an avid supporter of youth hockey. He coaches North SEERA Hockey teams and serves on the organization’s board of directors.
Gay Benns received her bachelor of laws degree from the University of Manitoba. She became a member of the Manitoba bar in 1998, the Alberta bar in 2002 and joined Laurie Allen and Associates, where she practised exclusively in the area of family law. She continued her focus on family law as a partner with Moe Hannah LLP. She has a strong background in mediation and arbitration and has worked as a Dispute Resolution Officer since 2009. She is a long-time volunteer with the Calgary Legal Guidance Clinic and a facilitator with the Alberta government’s Parenting After Separation program.
- Of the 33 provincial court judges the Government of Alberta has appointed since 2015, two-thirds (22) are women.
- The Alberta Judicial Council screens candidates for provincial court appointments. The Provincial Court Nominating Committee (PCNC) then interviews candidates. The committee provides its recommendations to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.
- The Alberta Judicial Council has representatives from the Alberta Provincial Court, the Court of Queen’s Bench, the Court of Appeal and the Law Society of Alberta. It also includes two individuals appointed by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.
- The PCNC has 11 members representing the Alberta Provincial Court, the Law Society of Alberta, the Canadian Bar Association (Alberta Branch) and representatives of the province’s legal community and the public appointed by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.