“Harper’s way out should serve as a Supreme precedent”

Summarized by Paralegal student Michael Yen

“Harper’s way out should serve as a Supreme precedent “ by André Pratte, Special to The Globe and Mail, May 29 2014.

The aftermath of the conflict between the PMO and the Supreme Court of Canada has come to what appears to be a satisfactory procedural solution.

The conflict revolves around the failed appointment of the Right Honourable Mr. Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada. The PMO’s appointment of Nadon, came into conflict with section 6 of the Supreme Court Act R.S.C., 1985, c. S-26 and was overturned by the Supreme Court.

In reference to an investigation conducted by the Globe and Mail newspaper, it was revealed that prior to the appointment of Nadon, the PMO asked for the Ministry of Justice to provide a short list of Supreme Court appointee candidates that would seem not likely to offer “judicial activism”. This prompted comments between the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. These comments have left the appearance of a deep conflict between the Supreme Court and the PMO.

The Federal government has now requested the provincial government of Quebec to provide a short list of candidates that would satisfy the constitutional requirements outlined in the Supreme Court Act. This has prompted some criticism that it is a precedent-setting request, and that the other provinces need to take note.
This request should be viewed as the solution to the ambiguous process of obtaining the short list of Supreme Court candidates. The process has always allowed for the Federal government to have “absolute discretion” in the appointment process of Supreme Court Justices. Obtaining the support and input of the provinces in making such an important decision, would instil greater belief in the Federal government in its relations with the provinces, especially with Quebec.

Also in doing so, the apparently damaged relationship between the PMO and the Supreme Court would be on way to a public relations recovery.

About the Author

Paralegal Student
Communications Students.