Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair wants the prime minister to assure Canadians he won't try to re-appoint a Quebec judge who was recently rejected from becoming a member of the Supreme Court.
In a 6-1 decision handed down Friday, the Supreme Court blocked Marc Nadon's appointment, saying he does not meet the requirements for an appointee from Quebec.
The government said it "will review the details of the decision and our options going forward," and hailed Nadon as a "respected legal mind."
The decision was "not just a rebuke of Stephen Harper's appointee, it's a rebuke of the Stephen Harper method: 'it's my way or the highway,'" Mulcair told CTV's Question Period in an interview that aired Sunday.
The prime minister should confirm that he will abandon Nadon as a nominee, Mulcair said.
"Stephen Harper should clarify one thing right away: that there's no question of him trying to come back with this appointee. If he clarifies that then at least we're on the right track," Mulcair said, adding: "There was no possible way to read that statute otherwise, and that's what the Supreme Court has just said."
Mulcair noted that the decision "comes right in the middle of a provincial campaign where everything is very sensitive with regard to the federal role with regard to Quebec affairs."
And he accused the federal government of failing to respect Quebec's constitutional rights by appointing Nadon.
"So while we do have the silver lining…we have a Supreme Court that backs up Quebec's rights, which is a good thing, at the same time everybody in Quebec is saying 'but why doesn't Stephen Harper respect Quebec's rights?'"
Three spaces on the nine-member court must be filled by a jurist from Quebec. Quebec appointees to the SCC must either come from the Quebec Superior Court, the Quebec Court of Appeal, or must be a current member of the Quebec bar.
Nadon, 64, was appointed from the Federal Court of Appeal.
In its ruling, the court also rejected recent changes to the Supreme Court Act to allow for the appointment of a judge who is either presently, or has been, a member of the Quebec bar for a minimum of 10 years.
The court said that the federal government cannot unilaterally change the laws regarding the essential composition of the Supreme Court. The constitution protects the court's essential composition, and any changes must be approved unanimously by Parliament and the provinces, the court said.
Mulcair on the Supreme Court's expected opinion on Senate reform:
"He (the prime minister) hasn't made too many efforts to reform the Senate, as you know. He's in his ninth year of power and he talked a good game about Senate reform, it was one of the key themes of the Reform Party."
"There's probably going to be tracks laid down by the Supreme Court saying 'you can go this way.' We've been concentrating on the why, why we should get rid of the Senate. And the Supreme Court will give us the how, and will tell us what kind of amending formula is required."
On whether the courts are fighting back against the government's law and order agenda:
"Right and they're fighting back using the rule of law. We do live in a society based on the rule of law, which essentially means that the law applies to everyone including Stephen Harper. So you're not allowed to bring forward legislation that goes against people's fundamental rights as set down in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
On whether he will apologize for his harsh criticism of new Finance Minister Joe Oliver:
"Mr. Oliver's comments are there for everyone to read, and the reaction to them is also on the public record. Mr. Oliver has made statements that personally attacked a key NASA scientist on global warming. He says climate change doesn't exist, he's always denied that global warming is a reality. But more importantly, he went after First Nations in our country, saying that they were socially dysfunctional."
So you're not going to apologize?
"No, I'm going to continue to say that this is an unacceptable appointment."
On the race to replace Olivia Chow as MP for Trinity-Spadina:
"I'm going to let the membership decide who our candidate is and I will throw my full support behind the person chosen by the members of the NDP. That's democracy in action, that's the way the NDP does things."
On reports the NDP used House of Commons resources to set up offices in Quebec to conduct party work:
"All of this has been vetted since day one when Jack Layton set it up three years ago by the appropriate authorities within Parliament, and any suggestion that there's the slightest problem with any of this is frankly just wrong."