TORONTO -- Ontario has a new top judge.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday appointed George R. Strathy the chief justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

Strathy had been a judge on the appeals court since April 2013 and replaces Justice Warren K. Winkler, who retired in December.

Harper's office says Strathy had earlier served as a Superior Court judge for five years and had specialized in civil litigation while in private practice.

The appointment is effective immediately.