Nadon tapped to replace Fish on SCC bench

Federal Court of Appeal Justice Marc Nadon will be the next judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, replacing Justice Morris Fish, who left the court at the end August.

Nadon’s dissent in the 2009 Federal Court of Appeal ruling in Khadr v. Canada, siding with the government on the issue of bringing Omar Khadr back to Canada from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, has left some to call him a ‘pro-Guantanamo’ judge.

In his dissentening reasons, Nadon stated: “Whether Canada should seek Mr. Khadr’s repatriation at the present is a matter best left to the Executive. In other words, how Canada should conduct its foreign affairs, including the management of its relationship with the US and the determination of the means by which it should advance its position in regard to the protection of Canada’s national interest and its fight against terrorism, should be left to the judgment of those who have been entrusted by the democratic process to manage these matters on behalf of the Canadian people.”

That review process for Nadon’s nomination included a legal opinion by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie, affirming the qualification of a judge from the Federal Court system with 10 years of prior experience as a member of the Québec Bar to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada from Québec. Another former SCC judge, Louise Charron and constitutional law expert Peter Hogg support Binnie’s opinion.

While Nadon’s appointment will maintain the necessary complement of Quebec judges at three, there were instant rumblings online about the need for more female judges. With the latest appointment there will be three women and six men on the SCC bench. “I need a cogent reason why our #SCC requires 3 Quebec judges but there is no minimum for female judges. A reason better than ‘1867,’” noted lawyer Sydney Robyn on Twitter.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement this morning. “I am pleased to announce the nomination of Mr. Justice Nadon, whose extraordinary body of legal work – as a longtime judge on both the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal; judicial member of the Competition Tribunal; expert in maritime and transportation law with almost 20 years as a practicing member of the Barreau du Québec; arbitrator; teacher; and author – makes him an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court of Canada.”

Nadon has been on the Federal Court of Appeal bench since 2001 and prior to that was a judge of the Federal Court of Canada from 1993-2001. In 1994, he was appointed a judge of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada and, in 1998, a judicial member of the Competition Tribunal.

He received his civil law degree in 1973 from the Université de Sherbrooke and was called to the Barreau du Québec in 1974. Prior to joining the bench, he was a lawyer and partner at Fasken Martineau Walker in Montreal. He was a recognized expert in maritime law and also had wide experience in both domestic and international arbitrations. His practice also included litigation in general insurance law and commercial matters.

Nadon will appear before an ad hoc committee of parliamentarians on Oct. 2.

Update Oct 2: Photo of Justice Nadon added

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