Government of Canada announces judicial appointments to the Federal Court

News release

February 26, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments 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.

Elizabeth Walker, Chairperson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police External Review Committee, is appointed a judge of the Federal Court. She fills a new position created under An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act (S.C. 2010, c. 8).

John Norris, a sole practitioner based in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Federal Court. He fills a new position created under An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act (S.C. 2010, c. 8).


Madam Justice Elizabeth Walker received her LL.B. from the University of Ottawa, where she was the Gold Medalist, and her Masters of Law (BCL) from Oxford University. She articled with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto before joining the firm’s tax group in Ottawa. Justice Walker was briefly counsel for the National Capital Commission before rejoining Osler in 1994. As an associate, and later partner, her practice centered on corporate securities transactions and governance issues for Canadian and international clients. She was the managing partner of the Ottawa office of Osler from 2004 to 2014 and was also a very active member of the business community for 20 years.

In 2014, Justice Walker was appointed Chair of the RCMP External Review Committee. As Chair, her primary focus was on administrative law, employment and labour law, and Charter and human rights issues. She guided the Committee through a significant transition period following the amendment of its mandate in November 2014. She also established new and practical legal norms for the force’s employment regime while safeguarding the legal and procedural rights of RCMP members.

Throughout her career, Justice Walker has championed the advancement of women in the legal profession. She has mentored and counselled women in all facets of the profession, informally and as a member of senior management, encouraging young women to pursue many different career paths. In her work as managing partner of Osler’s Ottawa office, the firm’s community and charitable program was always a mainstay. She focused the office’s charitable endeavours on a small number of Ottawa-based charities, ensuring that she and her colleagues were personally involved with the charities. Justice Walker speaks English and French fluently.

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

Prior to his appointment, Justice John Norris maintained a trial and appellate practice in criminal, constitutional and national security law in Toronto. Justice Norris was born and raised in Ottawa and received a B.A. (Honours Philosophy) from Carleton University. He holds an M.A. (Philosophy) from the University of Western Ontario and an LL.B. from the University of Toronto. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1993.

In 2008, Justice Norris was appointed to the roster of Special Advocates for security certificate proceedings under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. He acted as Special Advocate in a lengthy and complex security certificate proceeding before the Federal Court. He has also been appointed as amicus curiae on several national security matters before the federal courts. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada more than 25 times, often acting pro bono on behalf of public interest advocacy groups.

Justice Norris is deeply committed to legal education. From 1996, he was an adjunct member of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, teaching courses in criminal law, evidence, constitutional law, national security law, and legal ethics. In 2013, he was Constitutional Litigator in Residence with the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights. He was a senior associate with the Global Counter-terrorism Law and Policy Group at the Munk School of Global Affairs and a member of the faculty of the Philippe Kirsch Institute.

Justice Norris presents regularly at continuing legal education programs offered by such organizations as the National Judicial Institute, the Department of Justice Canada, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and the Special Advocate Program. He has authored several scholarly articles and was an assistant editor of the Canadian Rights Reporter for many years.

Justice Norris was also active in the legal community. He was an advocacy advisor for the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute, a director of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, and a member of the Advisory Group for the David Asper Centre. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. In 2011, the Advocates’ Society awarded Justice Norris the Catzman Award for Professionalism and Civility.

Justice Norris and his wife have two grown sons. In his spare time, Justice Norris is a competitive trail and road runner. He also has a passion for jazz and period performances of baroque music.

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

Quick facts

  • In 2017, the Minister of Justice made 100 appointments and elevations – the most a Minister of Justice has made in one year in at least two decades.

  • Of these appointees, half are women, four are Indigenous, and 16 have self-identified as a member of a visible minority population, LGBTQ2, or a person with a disability.

  • 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. Sixteen Judicial Advisory Committees have been reconstituted to date.


For more information, media may contact:

David Taylor
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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