Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced the nomination of Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Nadon will replace Justice Morris Fish, a Jean Chrétien appointee from Quebec who resigned from the Supreme Court on Aug. 31.
“I am pleased to announce the nomination of Mr. Justice Nadon, whose extraordinary body of legal work… makes him an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court of Canada,” Harper said a written release Monday.
Harper's nomination fills a Quebec-designated seat, though Nadon is currently a judge of the Federal Court of Appeal where he has served since 2001.
Nadon served as a judge of the Federal Court of Canada, trial division, and as an ex officio member of the Federal Court of Appeal from 1993-2001. In 1994, Nadon was appointed judge of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada and, in 1998, a judicial member of the Competition Tribunal.
Nadon is considered an expert in maritime and transportation law, among other things.
“His nomination is the result of an extensive review process that included consultations with prominent members of the legal community in Quebec," Harper said.
Because the Supreme Court Act requires the three judges from Quebec to be appointed from among the judges of the Court of Appeal or of the Superior Court of Quebec or from among the advocates of that province, a legal opinion was sought to determine whether Nadon was eligible for an appointment to the high court.
It was the legal opinion of former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie that Nadon was qualified to be appointed to the country's highest court.
Nadon has ruled on high-profile cases, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's attempt to obtain a court order that would have allowed her to join the televised leaders' debates during the federal election campaign. Nadon was the Federal Court judge who ruled he would not hear the party's arguments.
In 2009, in a 2-1 judgment, the Federal Appeal Court upheld a ruling that ordered the Canadian government to press for the return of Omar Khadr from a U.S. military detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In a dissenting opinion, Nadon wrote, "It is clear that Canada has decided not to seek Mr. Khadr’s repatriation at the present time. Why Canada has taken that position is, in my respectful view, not for us to criticize or inquire into.
"Whether Canada should seek Mr. Khadr’s repatriation at the present is a matter best left to the executive."
Nadon also wrote that Canada had used "all necessary means at its disposal" to protect Khadr and that the only possible steps for the government were the ones that it took through diplomatic channels.
Harper's nomination comes after an all-party panel of MPs gave the prime minister a list of three qualified candidates ranked in no particular order.
The panel was made up of Conservative MPs Shelly Glover, Jacques Gourdes, and Robert Goguen, NDP MP Françoise Boivin, and Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc.
Although the names of the other two candidates will not be disclosed, legal experts had expected one of the candidates to be a woman.
If confirmed, Nadon's appointment to the high court will bring the number of men to six. Three of the nine Supreme Court justices are women.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair congratulated Nadon on his "promotion" saying it is "the most important nomination in the life of a judge."
Despite his congratulations, the leader of the Official Opposition said "it was "rather surprising" to see a ratio of six men to three women on the high court.
Mulcair told reporters gathered on Parliament Hill on Monday that more women than men graduate from law school and that Harper ought to consider evening out the high court's gender balance to reflect that reality.
"I think he [Harper] has to be more sensitive to the issue of gender equity," Mulcair said.
Harper will have another opportunity to address the gender gap next year when Justice Louis LeBel leaves the bench after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Asked if he had any concerns about Nadon's dissenting opinion on the Khadr case, Mulcair said MPs will have the opportunity to ask him about that during his confirmation this week.
Nadon's nomination is expected to be publicly confirmed by a panel of 12 MPs including Justice Minister Peter MacKay during a special Commons committee on Oct. 2.