Prime Minister Stephen Harper has nominated a judge from the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Justice Thomas Cromwell was "highly recommended by judges, lawyers and other Atlantic Canadians," Harper said in a news release.

In April, Supreme Court Justice Michel Bastarache, who was with the New Brunswick Court of Appeal before his appointment, told the chief justice that he would retire at the end of the court's spring session.

Cromwell's nomination will end the work of Parliament's Supreme Court selection panel.

Harper said he bypassed the panel because it had not produced a short list of three candidates for the prime minister to consider. That occurred because opposition MPs would not participate, Harper said. The panel held its first meeting in August.

Cromwell is expected to appear before a parliamentary committee that will interview the nominee before the government appoints him.

Cromwell, 56, from Kingston, Ont., initially studied music but got his law degree in Ontario in 1976. He practised and taught law, including two stints at the Dalhousie Law School in Halifax. He was the executive legal officer in the chambers of the Supreme Court's chief justice for three years.

He first became a Nova Scotia appeals judge in 1997.