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Inquiry Team

The Commissioner

Justice Eileen E. Gillese was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2002, after serving as a Superior Court Justice from 1999-2002. Prior to her judicial appointments, she was Dean and Professor of Law at Western University’s Faculty of Law (1983-99). During her time at Western, Justice Gillese and her family made their home in London, Ontario.

Justice Gillese holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and Commerce from the University of Alberta. She earned undergraduate and graduate law degrees from Oxford University, England, which she attended as a Rhodes Scholar (1977-1980).

Justice Gillese is a member of the bars of Alberta (1981) and Ontario (1988). Prior to moving to Ontario, she practiced law with Reynolds, Mirth and Coté in Edmonton, Alberta (1980-83). From 1989 to 1991 she practiced law with McCarthy Tétrault in London, Ontario.

Justice Gillese’s interest and expertise in issues affecting the aging population developed through her work at the Pension Commission of Ontario, where she served as a member and Vice-Chair (1988-94) and then as Chair (1994-96). She also served as Chair of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario and Financial Services Tribunal of Ontario (1998-99).

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, she is married to Robert Badun and has four children.

Commission Counsel Team

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

William C. McDowell
Co-Lead Commission Counsel, is a partner at Lenczner Slaght. Will has appeared as counsel in many important cases focusing on issues of public law and commercial litigation. He practised as an associate and partner at a national law firm from 1988 to 2005. From 2005 to 2008, Will was Canada’s Associate Deputy Minister of Justice, with responsibility for civil litigation and national security. He supervised the design of several federal public inquiries, and the implementation of recommendations made by other Commissions.

Upon his return to private practice in 2008, Will was appointed by the Chief Justice of Ontario to mediate issues arising from the initial Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential schools. He was subsequently appointed to an Amicus role by the Superior Court in connection with a series of land occupations in Brantford.

In 2009 he was named Chief Commission Counsel to the City of Mississauga Judicial Inquiry, which delivered its report in October 2011. The report recommended a series of institutional and ethical changes to municipal governance, both provincially and within Mississauga.

He is also a leading media lawyer. Will has appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada a number of times in recent years on cutting-edge media and internet cases, and argued on behalf of Google before the Court in December 2016 in the landmark Equustek case. In addition, he has acted as counsel to several Ontario universities.

Will was a joint recipient of the Department of Justice National Award for his work in resolving the high-profile Maher Arar v. Canada case. He has also been honoured by the University of Toronto for many years of volunteer efforts on behalf of the University.

Mark Zigler
Co-Lead Commission Counsel, is a senior partner at Koskie Minsky, with over 35 years of experience in civil litigation and class actions.

Mark has acted as counsel in such cases as Nortel, Sears and Eaton’s insolvencies, NHL pension litigation, Canada Life and National Trust class actions, and other major cases in labour, pensions and the administrative law fields.

He has also appeared before all levels of Courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada and various Tribunals.

Mark has consistently been recognized as a leading practitioner in the field by the Lexpert organization, Best Lawyers in Canada, Chambers Global and Who’s Who Legal Canada. He has been selected to the Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada.

And recently, Mark has also served as an adjunct professor of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2015.

Elizabeth Hewitt
Senior Commission Counsel, graduated from Queen’s University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts and graduated with distinction from the University of Western Ontario in 1988 with a Bachelor of Laws.

She was called to the bar in Ontario in 1990 and has practiced extensively in the area of employment and commercial litigation with a particular expertise in human rights, harassment and discrimination. Ms. Hewitt has represented clients at both the trial and appellate level in Ontario and has appeared on behalf of employers in proceedings under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. Over the past 16 years Ms. Hewitt has built a practice as an independent, external investigator into various matters, including claims of workplace harassment, sexual harassment, abuse, breach of privacy, discrimination and workplace violence. She has practiced exclusively in that capacity since 2011. In addition to conducting external investigations, Ms Hewitt provides training to organizations on how to conduct fair internal investigations and ensure compliance with applicable legislation.

Ms. Hewitt is the former Chair of both the Board of Trustees of Brescia University College and the Board of Directors of King’s University College. She is also a former member of the Board of Directors of McCormick Care Group (formerly WCA), and Wellspring London and Region.

Rebecca Jones
Commission Counsel, is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer. She is a partner at Lenczner Slaght LLP, where she represents public and private sector clients in a wide range of matters, including professional liability cases, class actions, commercial disputes and administrative law proceedings. Rebecca has extensive experience in health law matters, and has been recognized for her work in that area. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of Toronto Law School, and was called to the bar in 2003.

Megan Stephens
Commission Counsel, is a graduate of McGill Law School. She clerked at both the Court of Appeal for Ontario and for Chief Justice McLachlin at the Supreme Court of Canada. Ms. Stephens was a Fulbright Scholar and Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School, where she completed her LL.M. She has been Crown Counsel at the Crown Law Office – Criminal at the Ministry of Attorney General of Ontario since 2006. In that role, Ms. Stephens has argued appeals before both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, prosecuted criminal matters before Ontario’s trial courts, and participated in policy development for the province. She was called to the bar in 2003.

Lara Kinkartz
Associate Counsel, has been seconded to the Inquiry from WeirFoulds LLP, where she practises public law litigation with a focus on administrative and regulatory law. Lara has represented regulators, licensing bodies, and public sector clients in a wide variety of matters, including professional discipline. Lara stood top of her class in her final academic year at Osgoode Hall Law School, and graduated in 2013 with the Bronze Medal. After clerking at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Lara went on to clerk for Moldaver J. at the Supreme Court of Canada. She was called to the bar in 2014.

Staff and Other Positions

Ida Bianchi
Commission Counsel, was called to the Ontario Bar in 1995. Prior to her secondment to the Long-Term Care Homes Public Inquiry, Ida was Counsel at the Motherisk Commission where her responsibilities included designing and leading the Commission’s consultation process with affected persons and stakeholders. Ida also oversaw research into legal and policy issues and worked closely with the Commissioner in developing her final recommendations.

Ida was seconded to the Motherisk Commission from her position as counsel with the Ministry of the Attorney General. In that position, Ida was responsible for the development and implementation of a number of legislative, policy and program changes, as well as the management of relationships with stakeholders and other justice partners. She has also held policy and research positions at Legal Aid Ontario and the Law Commission of Ontario.

Ida spent the first 14 years of her career in private practice. She represented victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in civil and family matters and before administrative tribunals. She also acted as counsel for parents, children and children’s aid societies in proceedings under the Child and Family Services Act.

Lindsay Merrifield
Staff Lawyer, was called to the Ontario bar in 2013. Lindsay joins the London Inquiry office where she will support Liz Hewitt, Senior Commission Counsel. Prior to joining the Inquiry, Lindsay practiced class action litigation in London. She has also represented victims of violence and sexual abuse in civil matters and acted both in personal injury cases and insurance matters. Lindsay holds a JD from the University of Calgary, a BA from Western University and an MA from Lakehead University.

Andrea Barton
Executive Director, has worked in the Ontario Public Service in various policy positions since 2011 at the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and Economic Development and Growth. Most recently, Andrea served as Policy Advisor in Cabinet Office to the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and Seniors Affairs. Ms. Barton earned her Bachelor’s degree in Global Development from Queen’s University and her Masters of Science in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Al Gayed
Director of Counselling, received his Master of Social Work from Wilfred Laurier University. He has worked in both the private and public sector for over 30 years providing services to adults, children, adolescents and families. Al presently manages and operates a successful private practice offering therapeutic services for a wide range of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, grief & loss, trauma recovery, relationship issues, stress and anger management. Al has specialized training in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and hypnotherapy. He has been an approved supervisor for Wilfrid Laurier University Master of Social Work students. Al also provides consultation and workshops to organizations and corporations for employee mental health and wellness.

Peter Rehak is the Director of Communications. He performed the same function for the Walkerton Inquiry, the Independent SARS Commission, the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiries, the Pediatric Forensic Pathology Inquiry, the Mississauga Inquiry, the Elliot Lake Inquiry, the Independent Police Oversight Review and the Motherisk Commission. He has a wide ranging background in print and television media.

Carla Novakovic – Executive Assistant

Nazma Dusoruth – Receptionist