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Debra McKenna LL.B.


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Photo 1 of Debra  McKenna Photo 2 of Debra  McKenna Photo 3 of Debra  McKenna

Debra joined Paliare Roland as an associate in 2011. She maintains a broad litigation practice, with a focus on commercial litigation, employment law, and union-side labour matters.

Debra regularly acts for clients in contract disputes, human rights cases, wrongful dismissal clams, grievance arbitrations, and discipline matters. She has represented clients in proceedings before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Civil and Family), the Ontario Court of Justice, the Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, and the Grievance Settlement Board.

Debra is a committed and effective advocate for her clients, and she brings extensive practical experience and know-how to her legal practice. Prior to attending law school, Debra worked for several years as a litigation law clerk, during which time she assisted on a number of notable, complex cases, including as commission staff for Justice Stephen Goudge on the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario and as part of the legal team representing the Ontario Provincial Police Association and its members at the Ipperwash Inquiry.


  • Windsor Law, LL.B., 2010

Bar Admissions

  • Ontario, 2011

Professional Affiliations

  • Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • The Advocates’ Society
  • Toronto Lawyers Association

Representative Work

  • Debra acts for individuals and businesses in relation to commercial disputes.
  • Debra represents private and public sector trade unions with respect to the enforcement of collective bargaining rights and human rights issues.
  • Debra provides advice and represents police associations and their members with respect to labour relations issues, discipline matters, and other proceedings under the Police Services Act.
  • Debra frequently provides advice to employees in relation to contract negotiations and termination from employment.

Some interesting and representative cases Debra has been involved with are:

Cumming v. Peterborough Police Association, 2013 ONCA 670 (

Terceira v. Labourers International Union of North America, 2014 ONCA 839 (

R. v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34 (

Ontario Public Service Employees Union v Ontario (Community Safety and Correctional Services), 2016 CanLII 48167 (

Awards and Honours

Community Involvement

Debra regularly volunteers as duty counsel for Pro Bono Law Ontario’s Law Help Clinic at the Superior Court of Justice.  She is also a volunteer for PBLO’s Appeals Assistance Program. Debra is an avid supporter of War Child Canada and the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN). She regularly volunteers with OJEN’s Elementary School Civil Mock Trial Program.

Publications and Presentations

Debra has written papers and been a presenter at various conferences on topics such as:

  • Ontario Bar Association Institute (Constitutional, Civil Liberties Human Rights Program), Policing Services and Section 1 of the Human Rights Code, February 2017 
  • Police Association of Ontario (Police Employment Conference), The Role of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) in Police Complaint Investigations, February 2017 
  • Ontario Bar Association, Human Rights Code Remedies, November 2016
  • Police Association of Ontario Employment Law Conference, Bill 132 – Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, March 2016
  • Human Resources Professionals Association Employment Law Conference, Disability Discrimination in the Workplace, October 2015
  • Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers Annual Conference, Administrative Proceedings and the Reasonable Apprehension of Bias, June 2015
  • Police Association of Ontario Employment Law Conference, Workplace Harassment Investigations, March 2015
  • Police Association of Ontario Annual General Meeting, Section 40 of the Police Services Act, May 2014
  • Police Association of Ontario Employment Law Conference, Downsizing and Section 40 of the Police Services Act, March 2014
  • Police Association of Ontario Employment Law Conference, Emerging Issues of Contracting Out/Contracting In of Policing Services, March 2013

Exceptional Advocates.


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