Government of Canada announces judicial appointment to the Federal Court

News Release

September 15, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment under the new judicial application process announced on October 20, 2016. The new process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

Shirzad S. Ahmed, a sole practitioner based in Calgary, is appointed a judge of the Federal Court. He replaces Mr. Justice L.S. Mandamin, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective August 19, 2017.


Mr. Justice Shirzad S. Ahmed was born in Kirkuk, Southern Kurdistan. As a young Kurdish man, he fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, eventually arriving in Canada as a refugee. He was educated in the Middle East, Europe and Canada, receiving an undergraduate degree in political science from Simon Fraser University in 1996. He received his J.D. from the University of Calgary in 2000. 

Since 2004, Justice Ahmed has worked as a sole practitioner in the areas of immigration, refugee, human rights, and civil liberties law. He has represented clients from every continent before various tribunals and before the Federal Court. Justice Ahmed’s command of numerous languages (written and spoken) reflects his international experience and multicultural interests and was a huge benefit to his law practice. He has written articles, given media interviews, and been a guest speaker at various forums addressing international human rights issues.

In 1995, while still a student, Justice Ahmed was appointed by the B.C. provincial government to the Board of Governors at University College of the Fraser Valley (as it was then known). He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Fig Tree Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on humanitarian causes throughout the world. 

In 2008, the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of Alberta presented Justice Ahmed with the Distinguished Service Award for Pro Bono Legal Service. In 2009, Justice Ahmed received the Alberta Order of Excellence, Alberta’s highest award. In addition, he has received numerous honours from the University of the Fraser Valley, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award (2011) and an honourary Doctor of Laws (2015), in recognition of his dedication to social justice and human rights issues.

Throughout his career, Justice Ahmed has been an indefatigable advocate for human rights causes. He is particularly invested in mentoring students and junior lawyers, as he believes they have the ability to carry on humanitarian and human rights work and to ensure that Canada continues to set the standard for global human rights practices.

Excerpts from Justice Ahmed’s judicial application will be available shortly.

Quick Facts

  • Budget 2017 includes additional funding of $55 million over five years beginning in 2017-2018 and $15.5 million per year thereafter for 28 new federally appointed judges. Of these new positions, 12 have been allotted to Alberta and one to the Yukon, with the remaining 15 being assigned to a pool for needs in other jurisdictions.
  • To ensure a judiciary that is responsive, ethical and sensitive to the evolving needs of Canadian society, the Canadian Judicial Council will receive $2.7 million over five years and $0.5 million ongoing thereafter. This will support programming on judicial education, ethics and conduct, including in relation to gender and cultural sensitivity.
  • 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 Judicial Advisory Committees in 15 jurisdictions have been reconstituted. Most recently, Minister Wilson-Raybould announced the composition of five new Judicial Advisory Committees on June 28, 2017.
  • This process is separate from the Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointment process opened on July 14, 2017. Nominees to the Supreme Court of Canada are selected by the Prime Minister from a thoroughly vetted list of candidates.



For more information, media may contact:

Kathleen Davis
Communications and Parliamentary Affairs Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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