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

News release

January 29, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada  

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.

The Honourable Elizabeth Walker, a Judge of the Federal Court, is appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Appeal. Justice Walker replaces Justice D.J. Rennie, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective March 6, 2023.

The Honourable Vanessa Rochester, a Judge of the Federal Court, is appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Appeal. Justice Rochester replaces Justice M. Rivoalen, who was elevated to the position of Chief Justice of Manitoba on May 31, 2023


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

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


Justice Elizabeth Walker was appointed to the Federal Court in 2018. She received a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) (Gold Medalist, summa cum laude) from the University of Ottawa in 1986 and a Masters of Laws (BCL) from Oxford University in 1987. She was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1989.

Justice Walker speaks English and French fluently. She articled and practiced with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto and Ottawa before joining the National Capital Commission in 1991 as counsel. She rejoined Osler in 1994 where her practice centered on corporate securities transactions, commercial and governance issues for Canadian and international clients. She was the managing partner of the Ottawa office of Osler from 2004 to 2014. She was a very active member of the business community for 20 years. She was a frequent speaker at events promoting the technology sector in Canada and was a guest lecturer at the University of Ottawa.

In 2014, Justice Walker was appointed Chair of the RCMP External Review Committee, a federal administrative tribunal located in Ottawa. 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.

Throughout her career, Justice Walker has been a strong proponent of 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.

Justice Vanessa Rochester was appointed to the Federal Court in 2021. She is a graduate of McGill University where she earned her B.A. Honors in Anthropology / Archeology, with a focus on maritime archeology, and then later her B.C.L and LL.B.. She earned both an LL.M. and a Ph.D. in maritime law from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Prior to her appointment to the Federal Court, Justice Rochester practised predominantly in the areas of maritime and transportation law. She worked with the late Professor William Tetley, a widely known and respected maritime law scholar, before entering private practice in the Montreal office of Norton Rose Fulbright, where she spent most of her career. She also spent several years practising in London, England, and in Singapore, where she handled complex multijurisdictional disputes.

Justice Rochester has been recognized as a leading practitioner in maritime and transportation law by numerous industry publications, including Chambers, Lexpert, Legal 500, Best Lawyers, Who’s Who, and Expert Guides.

While in practice, Justice Rochester was a regular speaker and author on maritime law topics and unconscious gender bias. She was the President of the Canadian chapter of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, whose mission is to promote gender diversity and equality in the shipping industry. She also served as VP Quebec and chaired several committees of the Canadian Maritime Law Association. She sat on the Maritime Law Executive and the Federal Court Bench and Bar Liaison Committee of the Canadian Bar Association.

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has appointed more than 685 judges since November 2015. This includes 62 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.


For more information, media may contact:

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

Search for related information by keyword: Law | Department of Justice Canada | Canada | Justice | general public | news releases | Hon. Arif Virani

Page details

Date modified: