Harper still in hot water over appointment

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His choice was ineligible

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is still in hot water over his nomination of an ineligible judge to the bench of the Supreme Court.

Ten months ago Harper decided to appoint Federal Court Judge Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court.

Nadon who is fully bilingual, has a reputation as an all-round good guy who knows the law.

Except that when he appeared before a parliamentary committee to talk about himself, he told MPs that he had been drafted at age 14 by the Detroit Red Wings.

MPs who know hockey had a good laugh at his expense and disabused him of his erroneous notion.

The National Hockey League does not draft 14-year old boys. Possibly a Red Wings scout might have told Nadon’s father "Someday that boy of yours will end up in the NHL," but that hardly makes him a draft choice.

Nadon put aside hockey and turned to law and became a good lawyer and eventually a good Federal Court judge.

It was later noticed that he shared some of Harper’s conservative ideas, which doesn’t hurt a guy in law in Ottawa these days.

It was as a federal judge that Nadon handed down a minority judgement that the Omar Khadr should continue to rot in a Guantanamo jail rather than be allowed to return to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada.

That happened to be Harper’s opinion as well.  Khadr finally made it back to Canada after the Supreme Court over-ruled the Federal Court. Harper was not pleased.

Nonetheless, Harper might have said to himself: “Nadon is the kind of guy I need on the Supreme Court.”

Not so easily done. There was a problem that Harper either didn’t know about or maybe thought he could finagle around. 

Article 6 of the Supreme Court Act says that to be appointed one of three judges from Quebec on the bench of the Supreme Court you must be a judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal, or the Quebec Superior Court, or have been a lawyer with the Quebec Bar for 10 years. Judge Nadon was none of those. Oooops!

That made him what one might call ineligible."

Harper tried to get around that by trying to retroactively amend the Supreme Court Act to make the “ineligible” Judge Nadon become the “eligible” Judge Nadon.

It didn’t work. The Supreme Court ruled against Harper by a count of 6 to 1. Another humiliating defeat for Harper and it must be said, also for Nadon.

Harper told parliament he had «sought advice from legal experts «before going to the Supreme Court for a decision.

Harper revealed the names of three experts he consulted. True, like him, they were in favor of putting Nadon on the Supreme Court bench. But Harper refused to name any other experts he had consulted, some of whom may have said just the opposite.

Since that time Nadon has been trolling around Ottawa with nothing much to do. Eventually he may go back to the Federal Court, or become a lawyer again.

But don’t cry for Nadon. He is still paid his full salary of $ 288,000 a year to sit on the shelves. He even got to take a four-week paid vacation.  Not bad for a judge who has nothing to do.

Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair told the Commons that Harper’s gaffe   «had never happened before in the history of Canada. »

Oh well, there’s always a first time for everything.

Mulcair pointedly asked Harper why he had “humiliated” Judge Nadon.

Harper, in full denial mode, refused to admit a mistake or apologize to Judge Nadon.

We can say at least that Judge Nadon’s career on the Supreme Court bench lasted as long as his career with the Red Wings.

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