Supreme Court’s rejection of Nadon is a legal marker and a political blow

Quebec’s distinctive character must be reflected in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of Canada, and nothing short of unanimous agreement of the provinces can change that principle, the country’s highest court has ruled.

It was a stunning rejection of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s latest appointment to that court, Justice Marc Nadon, who was ruled ineligible for the court because he did not have current Quebec qualifications, either on a superior court or as a lawyer with current standing in that province. The Conservative government had tried to change the law to make Justice Nadon eligible, but the court said there is a special appointment process for the Supreme Court’s three Quebec judges that is protected by the Canadian Constitution from such unilateral changes.

“a huge day for the Canadian federation”

The ruling leaves Mr. Harper to go back to the same pool of candidates he rejected when he plucked the obscure, semi-retired judge from the Federal Court of Appeal in late September.

The 6-1 ruling was not offered as the work of one judge but instead signed by the six judges in the majority. This shared authorship often occurs in national-unity cases, to give the impression the court is speaking with one voice (or in this case, one voice plus a dissenter).

To find out more

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