OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially launched the selection process to replace Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon today, ignoring calls from the federal Conservatives to delay it.

The 59-year-old Gascon, who is from Quebec, announced on Monday that he will step down from the country's top court for personal and family reasons in September.

Trudeau says former prime minister Kim Campbell will once again lead the search as the head of an advisory panel whose members have not yet been named.

The panel will be responsible for drawing up a short list of between three and five potential candidates, all of whom must be trained in civil law and hail from Quebec.

The decision to launch the search to replace Gascon likely means the next justice will be appointed before this fall's federal election.

It also comes against the wishes of the Opposition Conservatives who asked Trudeau to put the appointment on hold and conduct an investigation into who leaked information about a dispute between Trudeau and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould over who should be chief justice of Canada's top court.