Awards recognize exceptional merit and exemplary service in the Canadian justice system
Members of the Legal Aid Alberta community have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Counsel designation. The QC designation is a centuries-old tradition originating in England in 1603.
In Alberta, the title is conferred on lawyers by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General in recognition of exceptional merit and demonstrating exemplary service to the Canadian justice system.
LAA President and CEO John Panusa and Ryan Callioux, chair of LAA’s Board of Directors, are among the recipients of the designation announced April 6.
Honoured by the news, Panusa said, “In my view, the Queen’s Counsel designation is an affirmation that I’ve contributed in some small way to better outcomes for people wherever I could.”
“At its essence law is the constraint of power. The unfettered exercise of power against individuals is anathema to democracy and freedom. While serving individual clients or impacting the lives of thousands of people through difficult leadership decisions over the years, I’ve always relied on first principles and to be of service to individuals and our communities.”
Panusa earned his BA (Honours) at the University of Victoria, his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Alberta, and Master of Law at Cambridge University. He also holds a Chartered Director designation from McMaster University and a Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from the University of British Columbia.
Panusa articled at Stikeman, Elliott in Calgary, and continued in private practice in Vancouver. He moved to in-house counsel at WorkSafeBC, a $14-billion statutory agency responsible for workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety policy and enforcement, and began advancing into a series of leadership roles, culminating in Associate General Counsel and head of enforcement and investigations.
He joined LAA as CEO in June of 2017, to lead LAA through a period of renewal and transformation.
“I saw these challenges as opportunities to help transform LAA, better serve disadvantaged Albertans, and positively impact the functioning of our justice system.”
Callioux was called to the Bar in 2002 and is an Edmonton-area lawyer who has dedicated his professional legal career to helping families and children.
Practising family law for more than 20 years, he is an experienced litigator on family and child welfare cases and has advised government on risk management initiatives to reduce domestic violence and enhance legal services to protect children.
He has served as a director on the LAA board since 2016, and as board chair since 2020.