Cost of Marc Nadon appointment process? $250K

The federal government spent nearly $250,000 to review the aborted nomination of Marc Nadon to fill a Quebec vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada - an appointment the court struck down last week.

Newly released documents show cost of voided process to select, appoint Marc Nadon to Supreme Court

Justice Marc Nadon, of the Federal Court of Appeal, is shepherded into parliamentary committee hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada, by Justice Minister Peter MacKay. (Chris Wattie / Reuters)

The federal government spent nearly $250,000 to review the aborted nomination of Marc Nadon to fill a Quebec vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada — an appointment the court struck down last week.

Documents tabled in the Commons set out the costs of choosing and nominating Nadon.

The total includes $80,894 for legal services and another $152,294 for translation and other professional services.

Still, the costs associated with Nadon’s appointment are considerably less than what was spent to review Justice Richard Wagner just a year earlier.

The documents put the total cost of his successful appointment at nearly $345,000, including $66,950 for legal services.

In contrast, the joint review of Justices Michael Moldaver and Andromache Karakatsanis cost about $314,000 in 2011.

There is no immediate explanation for the cost discrepancies, said Liberal MP Irwin Colter, the source of the request for information that produced the documents.

“For example, there’s a discrepancy in the amount of legal services that were outlaid for Justice Nadon that was different than others, so we want to know why there was a [higher] cost for legal services," Cotler said.

Harper: will respect decision

There is no immediate explanation for the cost discrepancy.

To appoint a Supreme Court justice, a committee of MPs looks at a long list of candidates prepared by the federal justice minister. The committee decides on a short list of three names, which is provided to the prime minister.

Nadon’s appointment was rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada on Friday, which ruled 6-1 that he was not qualified to fill one of the court’s three seats from Quebec.

Legal observers say it was a stunning rebuke for the government, which tapped the semi-retired and relatively low-profile Nadon from the Federal Court of Appeal.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government will respect the letter and spirit of the Supreme Court’s ruling that Nadon failed to meet the requirement that Quebec judges be either members of a Quebec superior court or a current member of the province’s bar association.

Harper responded for the first time to Friday’s ruling, insisting his government was very surprised by the 6-1 ruling because “we had commissioned expert opinion on it which was completely contrary to the decision.’’

That review was done by retired Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie who said there was no obstacle to appointing Nadon. His opinion was supported by another former justice, Louise Charron.

Nadon: ends uncertainty

“But look, that said, that’s the decision,’’ Harper told reporters in the Netherlands, where he was attending an international nuclear safety summit.

“We haven't taken a decision on who the candidate will be. We haven't even taken a decision on taking a decision on the process.”

That would appear to close the door to suggestions that Nadon could be put forward again if he resigned from the Federal Court of Appeal and returned to a law practice in Quebec. But it leaves open the possibility that the government won’t follow the advice of some law experts that Harper choose one of the other candidates short-listed last fall with Nadon.

Either way, Irwin Cotler urged the government to move quickly to "get a first-rate candidate for appointment to the Supreme Court."

In an interview with Global News on Tuesday, Nadon said he hasn't applied to the Quebec bar. He says Friday's decision ends the uncertainty he's been living with since October.

“It’s not a shock, but I mean it’s been going on for six months, so I’m a bit like a diver who’s been under water for too long. So I need to take some fresh air a bit, and breathe,” he told Global News.

About the Author

Chris Hall

National Affairs Editor

Chris Hall is the CBC's National Affairs Editor and host of The House on CBC Radio, based in the Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. He began his reporting career with the Ottawa Citizen, before moving to CBC Radio in 1992, where he worked as a national radio reporter in Toronto, Halifax and St. John's. He returned to Ottawa and the Hill in 1998.

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