Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hon. Edmond Blanchard, Chief Justice of the Court Martial Appeal Court and the Federal Court of Canada dies in office

Chief Justice Edmond Blanchard
Canada lost one of its leading sons with the passing on June 27, 2014 of the Honorable Edmond Blanchard, 60 as of May 31, Chief Justice of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada since September 17, 2004. Justice Blanchard, who hailed from Campbellton, New Brunswick, was called to the Bar of New Brunswick in 1979 and practiced law in the private sector before seeking elected office in 1987. He went on to serve in the provincial legislature in a succession of keynotes ministerial appointments notably as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Minister of Finance. He was appointed as a Judge of the Federal Court and ex officio member of the Federal Court of Appeal on October 5, 2000 and, later, as a Judge of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada and a member of the Competition Tribunal.

Justice Blanchard was admired and respected by all who knew him professionally particularly so by those fortunate enough to call him a friend.  Retired Justice Gilles Létourneau of the Federal Court of Appeal, who served with him on the Court Martial Appeal Court for over a decade, characterized his untimely death as “a blow and great loss to the Judiciary as a whole and the Canadian military justice in particular. Under his guidance and leadership the CMAC restructured its decision making process. It reasserted the need for a military nexus as a condition precedent to courts martial acquiring jurisdiction over ordinary criminal law offenses and depriving members of the Canadian Forces and civilians accompanying them of their right to a trial, especially a jury trial, before a civilian court. In a series of decisions the CMAC granted military judges their judicial independence consisting of administrative independence, financial security and security of tenure.” Justice Létourneau speaks of his deep admiration and respect for Justice Blanchard both as a judge and as friend. “I was fortunate to get to know him on a personal basis. His wit and wisdom, love of nature, pleasure in good company and intellectual conversation are things I will recall fondly always. He was an exceptional human being on the personal and professional level.”  He hailed him as “a model judge with very high standards of efficiency, great dedication and commitment, clarity of reasoning and soundness of judgment in all the cases. Additionally, “he had an unimpeachable work ethic and was renowned and respected for his civility and affability with everyone he came in contact with. Although very much saddened by his passing, I am confident that his legal legacy will endure and continue to illuminate the Canadian military justice system for years to come. He will be missed.”

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