Gender balance at issue with Supreme Court vacancy
September 25, 2013
Prime ministers have been known to have something (or someone) up their sleeve as they choose a judge for the country’s most influential court.
Ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper passed over several talented female candidates for a spot on the Supreme Court a year ago, many in Quebec’s legal community have been wondering if he would restore the court’s previous gender balance – probably with the scholarly Justice Marie-France Bich of the province’s Court of Appeal. But a Montreal lawyer says he hears from an insider that Mr. Harper has something unexpected in mind for the soon-to-be-filled vacancy.
“She’s a very intelligent judge who is likely to go further than the current Supreme Court in deferring to government agencies,”
“Just watch out. There’s going to be a surprise,” he was told. Like others in this story, the lawyer asked that his name not be used so he could speak freely.
Handicapping the behind-the-scenes contest for a spot on the Supreme Court is difficult without understanding the web of political considerations and traditions that might shape the Prime Minister’s choice of a replacement for Justice Morris Fish of Quebec, a persistent advocate for the rights of the accused, who retired at the end of August.
This will be Mr. Harper’s sixth appointment to the nine-member Supreme Court of Canada. He will probably make the appointment within a couple of weeks, when the court’s fall session begins – unless he wants the formidable Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin on his back for leaving the court a body short.
By law, the appointment must be from Quebec to keep the court’s complement from that province at three.
This content has been updated on August 23, 2014 at 12:19.