PM fills vacancy on top court

Justice Richard Wagner of the Quebec Court of Appeal has been nominated to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the nomination today, saying Wagner was selected after a rigorous evaluation.

OTTAWA — Justice Richard Wagner of the Quebec Court of Appeal has been nominated to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the nomination today, saying Wagner was selected after a rigorous evaluation.

“Held in high esteem by his judicial colleagues and members of his bar association, he is an exceptional candidate with the skills and qualifications needed to serve Canadians well,” Harper said in a statement.

Wagner will fill the seat left empty when Justice Marie Deschamps retired in August.

The new justice was chosen from a pool of candidates picked in consultation with the attorney general of Quebec and senior members of the judiciary as well as prominent legal organizations. Members of the public were also invited to submit their suggestions for qualified candidates.

A panel of MPs then whittled that pool down to three names and Harper made the final selection.

The nominee will be questioned by a select Commons committee on Thursday.

Wagner became a lawyer in 1980 and worked as a civil and commercial litigator before being named to the Quebec Superior Court in 2004.

He was raised to the appeal court in 2011.

He comes from a family prominent in Quebec legal and political circles.

His father, Claude Wagner, was a Crown attorney, a law professor, a judge and a senior politician in the province. He served as a judge, then as solicitor general, attorney general and justice minister in Jean Lesage’s Liberal government of the 1960s before returning to the bench.

The senior Wagner was elected a federal Tory MP in 1972 and ran unsuccessfully for the Conservative leadership in 1976, losing to Joe Clark.

He was named to the Senate in 1978 by Pierre Trudeau, but died of cancer the next year.

The younger Wagner earned a B.A. and a licence in law from the University of Ottawa before entering practice.

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