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Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces judicial appointments to the Federal Court

Press Release

From: Department of Justice Canada

February 12, 2024

The Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments under the judicial application process established in 2016. This process emphasizes transparency, merit, and the diversity of the Canadian population, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

Julie L. Blackhawk, General Counsel at the Department of Justice Canada in Ottawa, is appointed a Judge of the Federal Court. Justice Blackhawk replaces Justice R. Zinn, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective September 1, 2022.

Angus G. Grant, Assistant Deputy Chairperson at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in Toronto, is appointed a Judge of the Federal Court. Justice Grant replaces Justice B.R. Bell, who resigned effective October 30, 2023.

Quote

“I wish Justices Blackhawk and Grant every success as they take on their new roles. I am confident they will serve Canadians well as members of the Federal Court.”

–The Hon. Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Biographies

Justice Julie L. Blackhawk obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus on political science and indigenous studies from Lakehead University in 1995 and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia in 1998. She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1999 and the Ontario Bar in 2004.

Justice Blackhawk articled with the Legal Services Society, British Columbia’s legal aid services provider, in the poverty law clinic. She then worked for a small personal injury and child protection law firm in New Westminster, British Columbia. In 2000, she moved to the Department of Justice Canada where her practice has focused exclusively on s.35 Aboriginal law and Indigenous issues. She was a Member of the Motion Picture Appeal Board (British Columbia) and she co-instructed “Special Topics in Litigation – Aboriginal Law, Litigation, Procedure and Practice” at the University of British Columbia.

Justice Blackhawk was an active member of the Federal Court Aboriginal Law Bar Liaison Committee and she contributed to the development of the Practice Guidelines for Aboriginal Law Proceedings, 2016. She regularly spoke on various topics related to s.35 Aboriginal law and Indigenous issues.

Justice Blackhawk is a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Nation (Kenhtè:ke kanyen’kehá:ka) and she has strong ties to the Lac Seul First Nation (Obishikokaang) through her spouse, Carl Blackhawk and their two teenaged daughters, Kinew and Binesi.

Justice Angus G. Grant was born in Scarborough. He attended Trent University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in international development studies in 1996, following which he obtained joint Masters and Law Degrees from the University of Toronto. He later obtained a PhD in Law from Osgoode Hall Law School, where he also taught administrative, immigration, and refugee law. He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2002.

Justice Grant commenced his legal career at Borden, Ladner, Gervais LLP in Toronto, following which he joined a private immigration and refugee law practice. Over the course of his practice, he became a respected leader in the field, having appeared before various trial and appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada on a number of occasions. He also worked for Legal Aid Ontario from 2004 to 2015. In 2019, he became the Assistant Deputy Chairperson for the Refugee Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board, and has played a leadership role in the management of the Board, which is Canada’s largest administrative law tribunal.

Justice Grant has published widely in these legal domains, and is a frequent speaker at conferences, law school programs, and training sessions across the country.

Justice Grant and his spouse Caroline Sand are the proud parents of three delightful daughters, Noa, Talia, and Maya.

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has appointed more than 690 judges since November 2015. This includes 64 appointments since the Honourable Arif Virani became Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada on July 26, 2023. These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada. Of these judges, more than half are women, and appointments reflect an increased representation of racialized persons, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQI+, and those who self-identify as having a disability.
  • To support the needs of the courts and improve access to justice for all Canadians, the Government of Canada is committed to increasing the capacity of superior courts. Budget 2022 provides for 22 new judicial positions, along with two associate judges at the Tax Court of Canada. Along with the 13 positions created under Budget 2021, this makes a total of 37 newly created superior court positions. Since Budget 2017, the government has funded 116 new judicial positions.
  • Changes to the Questionnaire for Federal Judicial Appointments were announced in September 2022. The questionnaire continues to provide for a robust and thorough assessment of candidates but has been streamlined and updated to incorporate, among other things, more respectful and inclusive language for individuals to self-identify diversity characteristics.
  • Federal judicial appointments are made by the Governor General, acting on the advice of the federal Cabinet and recommendations from the Minister of Justice.
  • The Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada play a key role in evaluating judicial applications. There are 17 Judicial Advisory Committees, with each province and territory represented.
  • Significant reforms to the role and structure of the Judicial Advisory Committees, aimed at enhancing the independence and transparency of the process, were announced on October 20, 2016.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to promoting a justice system in which sexual assault matters are decided fairly, without the influence of myths and stereotypes, and in which survivors are treated with dignity and compassion. Changes to the Judges Act and Criminal Code that came into force on May 6, 2021, mean that in order to be eligible for appointment to a provincial superior court, candidates must agree to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination. The new legislation enhances the transparency of decisions by amending the Criminal Code to require that judges provide written reasons, or enter them into the record, when deciding sexual assault matters.

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-6568
Chantalle.Aubertin@justice.gc.ca

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca

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