Harper nominates Quebec judge to Supreme Court
Published Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:19AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:58AM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his fifth appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday, naming Quebec Justice Richard Wagner as the latest addition to the country's highest legal authority.
Wagner has been a lawyer since 1980, during which time he has often argued before the Supreme Court, as well as the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Quebec Superior Court, according to a backgrounder from the Prime Minister’s Office.
He has sat as a judge in the Superior Court of Quebec since 2004 and was raised to the appeal court in 2011.
"Justice Wagner's candidacy comes following a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process of his merit and commitment to legal excellence," Harper said in a release Tuesday. "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."
Wagner will fill the seat of former justice Marie Deschamps, who retired in August.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife said Wagner is the son of Claude Wagner, a former Crown prosecutor and judge in Quebec who went on to enter provincial and federal politics.
Fife said there is a rigorous process in place to narrow down a pool of candidates for selection to the Supreme Court.
First, the federal minister of justice and attorney general consulted with other high-level legal experts and members of the judiciary, and reviewed submissions from the public to identify a pool of qualified candidates. That list was then reviewed by a panel comprising five members of Parliament from the three main parties, who narrow the list down to three candidates.
From that list of three, Harper and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson select their top candidate.
Fife said all the final candidates were highly qualified and experienced.
"The only thing that would distinguish a Harper appointment is that he does not appoint activist judges -- it's not in his nature to do so. He believes Parliament is supreme, so the judges he appoints are more conservative, not in a social conservative sense but in the sense they look for boundaries between the supremacy of Parliament and of course making decisions in the interest of all Canadians," Fife told CTV News Channel.
Before joining the court, Wagner will take part in a public hearing in the House of Commons where he will be questioned by members of Parliament.