20 February 2006
Prime Minister Harper with the Minister of Justice.
Process designed to increase openness and accountability
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the process that will be used to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada. At the centre of the process is a publicly televised appearance by the nominee before the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada.
"The Supreme Court is a vital institution that belongs to all Canadians," said the Prime Minister. "I believe the public deserves to know more about the individuals appointed to serve there, and the method by which they are appointed. A public hearing is an unprecedented step in this direction," he continued. "It will bring more openness and accountability to the process of appointing people to our nation’s highest court."
The hearing by the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada is an interim process designed to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice John Major. Full details of a process to fill future vacancies will be announced at a future date.
Details of this interim process are contained in the following backgrounder.
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SUPREME COURT VACANCY PROCESS
In the interest of greater openness and accountability, the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada will publicly interview the nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Committee will not be a parliamentary committee, although it will be comprised of parliamentarians. It will be subject to rules of procedure agreed to by all parties having recognized status in the House of Commons.
The Chair of the Committee will be responsible for ensuring that ordinary parliamentary rules of decorum are respected and will act in a manner that reflects the will of the committee.
The merits of a number of candidates had been previously thoroughly reviewed and assessed through a process of extensive consultation by an Advisory Committee set up by the previous Government, which included Parliamentarians. The Prime Minister has decided to select the nominee from the short list created by that Advisory Committee in the interest of ensuring that the Supreme Court is able to fulfill its important functions with a full complement of nine justices.
The hearing by the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada is an interim process designed to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice John Major. It does not preclude changes to the Supreme Court appointments process being made in the future.