Top court to hear Nadon case

The Supreme Court of Canada is set to begin grappling with an extraordinary first in its 139-year history: adjudicating the rules for the appointment of one of its own.

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada is set to begin grappling with an extraordinary first in its 139-year history: adjudicating the rules for the appointment of one of its own.

The sitting justices hear arguments Wednesday morning concerning the eligibility of Justice Marc Nadon, the latest appointment by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the top court.

It marks the next messy step in a rare judicial appointment gone awry — a mess the Conservative government clearly foresaw last summer but went ahead with anyway.

Nadon, a 64-year-old semi-retired Federal Court judge, faces a constitutional challenge because he is one of three Quebec-based judges required on the nine-member bench but he may not meet the criteria for a Quebec appointee.

The government “absolutely knew this was an issue,” said Adam Dodek, a constitutional law professor at the University of Ottawa.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay sought a legal opinion from retired Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie to buttress Nadon’s appointment even before it was announced, and the government subsequently used a fall omnibus budget bill to redraft the Supreme Court Act rules to “clarify” that Nadon was in fact eligible. But by then, a constitutional lawyer and the Quebec attorney general had signalled their intention to challenge the appointment.

Nadon, already sworn in as Harper’s sixth Supreme Court appointee, was given an unprecedented notice to stay off the court premises until the legal questions are resolved.

Seven interveners will present arguments Wednesday that go to the fundamentals of how much power and latitude the government of the day has to change the court, and whether the Supreme Court’s composition is protected by the Constitution.

“It’s a puzzle, frankly,” said Frederick Vaughan, a professor emeritus at the University of Guelph who has written a highly regarded history of the Supreme Court. “There are so many things that simply don’t make sense in this appointment, when there are so many people there (in Quebec) that are capable.”

Nadon’s unexceptional judicial resume is not at issue in the legal reference, but does provide an element of political intrigue: why is the Conservative government wading into a constitutional swamp over this appointee?

The Constitutional Rights Centre and constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati launched the initial challenge, and Quebec has joined the fray.

The Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, concerned that a narrow reading of the Supreme Court Act could hurt diversity on the bench, has waded in to defend Nadon’s eligibility.

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month