Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has begun the process to choose the next justice of the Supreme Court of Canada by opening up the eligibility to candidates from Northern Canada. 

"The process we are opening up today will recruit potential candidates from Western Canada and Northern Canada and follow the tradition of appointing only the most exceptional and impressive individuals to the court," Trudeau said in a statement. 

This is the first time the North has been included in the convention of selecting justices from Canada's regions. 

The government is looking to fill the vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, who served for 28 years. 

The 73-year-old jurist was appointed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1989. She became the first woman to hold the top job on the country's highest court after she was elevated to chief justice by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 2000.

McLachlin, who will vacate her post Dec. 15, 2017, is from B.C. Traditionally, the court's nine justices are selected to represent different regions.

Three are constitutionally required to represent Quebec's civil law system. According to established convention for the remaining six seats, three are from Ontario, two from Western Canada and one from the Atlantic provinces. 

Choosing the next justice

An independent advisory board that will be appointed at a later date will draft a non-binding short list of three to five candidates for the prime minister's consideration. 

Lawyers and judges wishing to apply for the post need to submit their application by one minute to midnight Sept. 15, 2017. 

Once a new Supreme Court justice has been appointed, and the court is back up to its full membership of nine justices, Trudeau will select one of the nine to be the next chief justice of Canada.