Independence of the judiciary, impartiality of the judges and access to justice are fundamental values in the eyes of all Canadians, and represent the very essence of a free and democratic society. The acceptance by the public of judicial decisions and public support of those decisions is dependent on the public's confidence in the integrity and independence of the judges. It is important, therefore, that the Federal Court of Appeal and its judges be perceived as independent and impartial.
As a democratic society, Canada has undergone some very important changes in the relationship between individuals and the state. The judiciary in Canada must have the necessary knowledge and experience to contribute significantly to the maintenance and ongoing evolution of our free and democratic society. The role of the courts as adjudicators of disputes, interpreters of the law and defenders of the Constitution and the Charter requires that their powers and functions be completely separate from all other stakeholders in the legal system. Canada's tradition of judicial independence guarantees that the courts will continue to be accessible to everyone and that the proceedings remain public, transparent and free of interference from the government. It is these guarantees that today maintain a strong judiciary in Canada.
The Court's decisions have an impact on the life of all Canadians — whether the subject matter be the food we eat, our entertainment or our means of transportation. The Court is also responsible for enforcing the various rights and obligations between Canadians and the federal government. It often decides issues pertaining to the social benefits granted to Canadians by the federal government, the level of taxation imposed on individuals and corporations by the federal government, and labour relations between the federal government and its employees.
The Federal Court of Appeal also affects, and is affected by, events on the international scene. It plays an essential role in the interpretation and implementation of Canada's international obligations.
The Court is readily accessible owing to its national and itinerant nature. The Court is itinerant in that it sits and hears cases anywhere in Canada, in order to be as close as possible to the parties. It is a bilingual tribunal that provides its services in both of Canada's official languages. And the Court is also bijural, because it administers the two legal systems of the common law and the civil law.
The Honourable Pierre Blais, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal
- Born in Berthier-sur-mer, Quebec.
- Education at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière College and Laval University Law School, 1976.
- Elected to the House of Commons in 1984 and re-elected in 1988.
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, 1984;
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Privy Council, 1986;
- Minister of State for Agriculture, 1987;
- Solicitor General of Canada, 1989;
- Minister of Consumers and Corporate Affairs and Minister of State for Agriculture, 1990 and
- Minister of Justice, Attorney General for Canada and President of the Privy Council, 1993.
- Partner, law firm in Montmagny, Quebec, 1976 to 1984.
- Partner, Langlois Gaudreau, Quebec City, 1993 to 1998.
- Appointed Judge of the Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division and ex officio member of the Court of Appeal and Judge of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, June 1998.
- Judicial Member of the Competition Tribunal in October 2002.
- President of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal, July 2007.
- Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, UK, 2008.
- Appointed Judge of the Federal Court of Appeal, February 20, 2008.
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointed of the Honourable Pierre Blais as Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal on September 9, 2009. The swearing in ceremony by the Governor General occurred on September 22nd, 2009.