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Marie Corbett

Marie Corbett Superior Court Judge

Born in Avondale, Newfoundland, Marie Corbett is a woman’s rights advocate in the areas of family law, environmental law, pension law, and sexual assault. Marie was the first woman
president of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, chair of the first family law conference in Canada, and member of the first Ontario Status of Women Council. She founded and was the first woman president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges. After her retirement from the bench, she wrote the first memoir by a Canadian woman judge, January : A Woman Judge’s Season of Disillusion.

Marie Corbett was a pioneer in the women's movement of the 1970's and continues to be a tireless advocate for social justice and reform of sexual assault law.  She lives with her wife in Florida and in her native Newfoundland.

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Bachelor of Arts Degree, B.A., McGill University, 1963,
English and Philosophy, First Class Honours

Juris Doctor, D.Juris., (LL.B) Faculty of Law,
University of Toronto, 1968

Bar Admission Course, Law Society of Upper Canada, 1970

Appointments and Honours

Women of Distinction Special Award, 1993, YWCA, in recognition of national impact for women of law reform activities and judicial decisions

Queen’s Counsel, 1983

Vice-Chair and Member, Pension Commission of Ontario, 1982-86

Chair, Ontario Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee, July 1983-86; First Chair; developed procedures and policies that continued to be used by Committee to ensure that public undertakings are not improperly exempted from environmental assessment

Hearing Officer, Hearing Panel on Industrial Waste Management, appointed by Lieutenant Governor in Council, 1981-83


Honorary Solicitor, The Provincial council of Women of Ontario, 1882-86

Chair, Justice Committee, and member of the first Ontario Status of Women Council, (Chair Laura Sabia), 1973-74; co-organizer of first family property law conference in province with 500 delegates; contributed to major family law reform recognizing the contribution of women in marriage; established woman lawyer resource for women’s groups


Justice, Ontario Court of Justice, (Ontario Superior Court) 1990-99; criminal trials and Divisional Court; murder and wiretap teams, criminal team leader, 1993-95

Judge, District Court of Ontario at Toronto, 1986-90; civil and criminal trials Private practice, Corbett and Barton, Toronto, ON, 1980-86; administrative law, specializing in pension law; drafted pension benefits legislation for Ontario and model pension reform legislation for other jurisdictions throughout Canada.

Counsel for the Teachers’ Superannuation Commission; counsel for Ontario Dietetic Association, assisted dietitians to improve and enhance their professional status

Counsel, Royal Commission on Pensions in Ontario, 1974-77; provided legal advice and research, organized and conducted 14 weeks of public hearings throughout province, co-coordinated research, wrote much of Royal Commission’s ten-volume report which led to major pension reform in Ontario

Member, Ontario Municipal Board, 1974-77; conducted public hearings throughout province and rendered decisions on wide variety of municipal matters including planning, zoning, subdivision, real property assessment, and municipal finance

Private practice; 1972-74; civil litigation at all court levels, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and attendances before administrative tribunals

Lawyer, City of Toronto Legal Department; municipal litigation, labour relations, conducting prosecutions under by-laws and provincial statutes

Articles, 1968-69, to Richard Rohmer, Q.C. Student employment included research with the Ontario Law Reform Commission on motor vehicle accident insurance and evidence studies


Founder and First President, Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges, 1994-97, International Director; prepared and supervised founding policies and documents, represented Chapter at international meetings


Originated and obtained in 1994 the printing of the stamp honouring The Hon. Helen Kinnear, the first federally-appointed woman judge on the 50th anniversary of her appointment; Director of project to preserve her archives and to produce biography of Judge Kinnear

Chair, Judges’ Annuities Subcommittee, Canadian Judges Conference, 190-92; Chair, Judges’ Annuities Committee, Ontario Superior Court Judges’ Association, 1991-95; supervised survey of judges in Canada on pension issues; assisted in submissions to Triennial Commissions; instrumental in providing advice to judiciary and obtaining pension reform for all judges in Canada


Vice-Chair, Canadian Bar Association, Pensions and Benefits Section, 1985-86; instituted first pension lectures for Bar Admission Course

Director, Empire Club of Canada, 1985-86; first woman member

Executive Member, Ontario Regional Council, Canadian Pension Conference, 1982-84

Chair, Board of Directors, Cocolerio Umbrella, Ann Ditchburn’s ballet and film company, 1983-85

Delegate, alternate workshop leader, National Pensions Conference, Ottawa, 1981

Contributor to and participant in film “Family Property Law” produced by Attorney-General of Ontario and distributed widely from 1974-77 to introduce public to family law reform

President, Canadian Environmental Law Association, 1973-74; founding member, second president (first woman president) in its history; chaired committees establishing policies and activities to achieve environmental law reform in Canada; undertook environmental litigation representing the public on a pro bono basis

Executive Secretary, Ontario Legal Aid Task Force, 1974, Chair, Justice Osler; organized public hearings throughout province resulting in report that led to the establishment of legal aid in Ontario

Lecturer, Environmental Law, Humber college of Applied Arts and Technology. 1973; delivered six-month course, five hours weekly; guest lecturer, 1978

Public speaking; extensively in the 70s and 80s on social justice issues: pensions, planning and zoning, environmental law, family law, and sexual abuse. Dedicated to family law reform, pension reform, and environmental reform. Gave child sexual assault course for police officers and others


Helen Kinnear, chapter in Women in Law: A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook, Greenwood Press, Westport Ct, 1996, with Doris Corbett


Disclosure of Complainant’s Records in Sexual Assault Trials, (1994), 37 Criminal Law Quarterly 37, with Anne Sonnen


Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, Annual Institute of Continuing Education, Canadian Bar Association-Ontario, Feb. 1986


Equal Pension Benefits for Men and Women, Canadian Institute for Professional Development, Nov. 1985, with Roger Barton

Pension Benefits Reform Legislation, Law Society of Upper Canada, Oct. 1985

Contributor, Pensions Today and Tomorrow: Background Studies, Ontario Economic Council, 1984

Regulation of Private Pensions, Understanding Pensions, Canadian Bar Association, June 1983

How the Charter Will Affect Benefits, Benefits Canada, Nov.-Dec. 1982

Thinking of Retiring – A Financial Assessment, Legally Speaking, Community Legal Education, Ontario, 1982

The Ontario Municipal Board: Planning and Zoning Cases, 14 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 193, 1976

Expected Changes in Family Law, Law Society Special Lectures, 1975

The Necessity of Procedural Rights in Evaluating Environmental Change, Social Science Council of Canada, Edmonton, 1975

Contributor, Environment on Trial, A Citizen’s Guide to Ontario Environmental Law, Toronto, 1974

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