If given the chance to govern again, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he plans to stay the course on any Supreme Court vacancies that come up in the next parliament.

The Conservative leader pledged to conduct "wide-ranging consultations" in any future vacancies on the top court, as Harper said he had done with two previous appointments.

"We will pick people as we've done in the past, people we think are strong, independent legal minds," Harper said Monday when speaking to reporters in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

While Harper admitted the government does "some analysis of decisions" when evaluating Supreme Court candidates, he said record, experience, judgment and judicial temperament are the key factors in that decision process.

"These people will sit on the bench a long time, so we will choose very carefully."

Harper said that if Parliament wants such a hearing, a Conservative government "will have these people sit before parliamentary committee and answer some questions about themselves and their philosophies."

Justice Marshall Rothstein was appointed to the Supreme Court during Harper's first term as prime minister, while Justice Thomas Cromwell joined the top court in December 2008.

Rothstein was the first Supreme Court justice to be questioned by a committee of MPs before his appointment was formalized in 2006.

Cromwell's appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada was made official without a hearing, after a committee fell by the wayside when Harper suspended Parliament to avert a confidence vote that threatened to topple his minority government.