Our People

The Commissioner

Commissioner Judith C BeamanCommissioner Judith C. Beaman was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 1998, rising to the post of Regional Senior Justice for Eastern Ontario in 2008, a position in which she served until 2012. In her judicial role, Justice Beaman presided over both family and criminal cases. She also served as the Chief Justice’s appointee on the Ontario Judicial Council and the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee. Justice Beaman was called to the bar in 1977 and specialized in child and family protection law, working first as a sole practitioner and then as a partner in the firm of Dickson, Sachs, Appell and Beaman. While in practice, she also served as a Hearing Officer for the Ministry of Community and Social Services on adoption review cases. She also worked as a legal policy analyst at the Status of Women Canada Directorate in Ottawa shortly before being appointed as a judge. Justice Beaman was appointed by Order-in-Council to lead the Motherisk Commission on January 15, 2016.

Justice Beaman’s thirty-five years in these roles have given her a deep and thorough understanding of the issues facing children and families who become involved with child protection agencies. Her experience makes her uniquely qualified to oversee the Commission’s operations and ensure the fulfillment of its mandate.

Commissioner’s role

Commissioner Beaman’s role is to lead the Motherisk Commission in its work to assist individuals affected by the Motherisk Laboratory’s unreliable hair testing and to produce a final report on her findings by early 2018. She oversees the provision of services to affected persons and makes the ultimate decision on whether cases assessed by her expert legal counsel should be referred back to the courts for a possible legal remedy.

Counsel

Experienced legal counsel assist with all aspects of the Commission’s work from legal reviews to policy decisions.

Lorne GlassLead Commission Counsel, was called to the bar in Ontario in 1978 having graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School. He has practised family law and has worked mainly in the area of child protection. He has represented children’s aid societies, parents, grandparents, foster parents and children involved in family court proceedings. Mr. Glass has been a panel lawyer for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer since 1979.

Ida Bianchi, Commission Counsel, was called to the bar in 1995. From 1995-1999 she worked in a law firm representing victims of violence and childhood abuse in matrimonial matters, civil actions for assault, and before administrative tribunals. From 1999-2008 she worked at a boutique firm practicing matrimonial law and child protection law. She represented parents, children and children’s aid societies. In 2008, she joined Legal Aid Ontario where she worked on the design and delivery of family law services. In 2012, she led the Law Commission of Ontario’s Family Law Project. From 2013-2015, she worked at the Ministry of the Attorney General as Counsel, in the Family Policy and Programs Branch, Court Services Division. She provides legal and policy advice to the government on family law cases and family justice issues and leads program initiatives in the family justice system.

Martha Chamberlain, Commission Counsel, was called to the bar in 1999. After her call, she worked as a mediator with the Financial Services Commission where she conducted over 300 mediations. Since 2001, she had been working as in-house counsel with the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. As Society counsel she represented the Children’s Aid Society at the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice, and the Ontario Court of Appeal. She has also appeared in secure treatment hearings, medical emergency hearings and appeals to the Child and Family Services Review Board.

Lisa LaBorde, Commission Counsel, was called to the bar in 2000. Following her call to the bar she worked at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and as Advice Counsel for the African Canadian Legal Clinic. Since 2004, Ms. LaBorde has exclusively practiced child protection law in private practice representing both parents and children. Ms. LaBorde is also an accredited family mediator.

Tammy Law, Commission Counsel, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2005 after completing her LLB at the University of Toronto and her B.A&Sc at McMaster University. Prior to her call to the Bar, Ms. Law clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and spent one year in China studying Chinese intensively. From 2005-2010, Ms. Law worked in private practice, representing parents, children, foster parents, aboriginal bands, and children’s aid societies. From 2010-2012, Ms. Law worked at Legal Aid Ontario as a staff lawyer in the Family Law Service Centre. She completed a secondment at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto between 2012 and 2013, and then went back to Legal Aid Ontario as a staff lawyer in General Counsel’s office. Ms. Law started her own family and child protection practice in August 2014.

Julie RalhanCommission Counsel, was called to the bar in 2003, and has practiced family law exclusively since that time. Following her call to the bar, Ms. Ralhan worked as Legal Counsel to the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton over a cumulative period of six years. In 2009, Ms. Ralhan accepted a position at a boutique matrimonial law firm in Toronto, where her practice included all aspects of family law. In 2012, Ms. Ralhan launched her own law practice, focussing on the representation of parents and other family members in Children’s Aid Society cases. Ms. Ralhan obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from York University in 1999, her law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2002, and her Master of Laws degree (part-time LL.M.) in Family Law from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2009.

Shuah Roskies, Commission Counsel, received her B.A. in history and political science from McGill University and her law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. She was called to the Bar in 2007. Ms. Roskies articled with the Ministry of the Attorney General, at the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL). She worked as counsel at the OCL between 2007 and 2010, dealing with estate and civil matters in the Property Rights Department, and handling child protection and custody and access cases in the Personal Rights Department. From 2011 to 2012, Ms. Roskies worked at the Legal Aid Ontario Family Law Service Centre, acting as parents’ counsel in family law matters. In 2012, she returned to the OCL, where she is counsel in the Personal Rights Department.

Patric Senson, Commission Counsel, has a Master’s Degree in Immunology, a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and was called to the bar in 2012. Prior to practising law, he spent the best part of a decade as a producer at CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks and on air as the national science commentator. As a science journalist his work was recognized both in Canada and internationally. Since becoming a lawyer, he has built a broad practice, appearing at all levels of court from the Ontario Court of Justice to the Supreme Court of Canada. The primary focus of his work is in child and youth advocacy. He is an agent for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer where he works in child protection, custody and access, adoption matters and secure treatment.

Danielle Szandtner, Commission Counsel, completed the combined Master of Social Work and Law degree at the University of Toronto in 1996. From 1996 – 2005 she worked in a law firm representing victims of sexual assault in civil actions against institutional and individual defendants. She also represented clients in family law custody and divorce proceedings. From 2005 – 2016 she worked as legal counsel for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. She has represented the Society at all levels of court and before the Child and Family Service Review Board Tribunal.

Who Works for the Commission?

Commissioner Beaman and the Motherisk Commission are supported by a dedicated group of professionals who assist with achieving the Commission’s mandate.

Staff

Suzanne Labbé, Executive Director, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a License in Civil Law (LL.L) from the University of Ottawa. She began her professional career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). During her career in the federal public service, Ms. Labbé worked extensively on judicial matters initially at the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs as Secretary to the Federal Judicial Appointment Secretariat and, subsequently, as Deputy Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. She joined the newly created Courts Administration Service as Deputy-Chief Administrator responsible for Judicial Affairs in March 2005 and was appointed Acting Chief Administrator in October 2010. Following her retirement in July 2011, she was appointed Executive Director of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. She would later hold the position of Executive Director of the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry. More recently, Ms. Labbé coordinated the translation of the Lang Report on the Motherisk Hair Analysis Independent Review. She was appointed Executive Director of the follow-up Motherisk Commission of Inquiry in January 2016.

 

Celia Denov, Director of Counselling and Outreach Services, has over thirty years of experience working in the fields of social services, health and women’s issues. After working for the Ontario Public Service for 25 years, Ms. Denov retired at the level of Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community and Social Services in 2000. Ms. Denov was formerly a secondary school teacher in Tanzania with CUSO. She holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto. Ms. Denov has been a member of the Child and Family Services Review Board and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. She has worked with the Cornwall Public Inquiry and the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario.

Dahlia Klinger, Senior Policy Advisor/Writer, joined the Ontario Public Service in 1992 as a speechwriter and moved into policy a few years later. She has worked in a variety of policy areas, including human rights, accessibility, social assistance reform and heritage conservation. Most recently, she led the development of policy for Ontario’s first culture strategy and wrote the final document. She has also worked as a freelance writer, adult literacy program coordinator and teacher of English as a Second Language.

Peter Rehak, Communications Consultant, has used his wide-ranging experience in journalism and television production in the service of public inquiries, including the Walkerton Inquiry, the Independent SARS Commission, the Ipperwash Inquiry, the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiries, the Goudge Inquiry, the Mississauga Inquiry and the Elliot Lake Inquiry.