Supreme Court of Canada rejects Marc Nadon

OTTAWA—As Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the air en route to promote democracy in Ukraine, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a lesson of its own: this is what Canadian constitutional democracy looks like.

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a stinging rejection of Harper’s appointment of Justice Marc Nadon for a Quebec seat on the top bench, saying it was an unconstitutional change to the composition of the Supreme Court of Canada, and required the unanimous approval of Parliament and the provinces.

“This is a very significant day for Canada because the Quebec’s distinct character has been recognized by the Supreme Court as an integral part of the Constitution of Canada,”

The news reached Harper aboard his military plane, which has secure communications with Ottawa, and came as a shock.

“We are genuinely surprised by today’s decision,” said Harper spokesman Stephen Lecce in a statement released four hours after federal lawyers informed the Conservative government it lost every argument it had made.

Lecce pointed to an outside legal opinion that the government got last fall from a retired Supreme Court judge, which was reviewed and backed by another former judge and a constitutional law expert. It pointed at opposition members on a judicial selection committee — who were sworn to secrecy — but the government said never raised an objection to the nomination of a federal court judge to the top court.

None of that mattered.

To find out more


This content has been updated on August 23, 2014 at 12:19.