Richard Wagner nominated to Supreme Court bench

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is filling the vacancy at the Supreme Court of Canada with today’s nomination of Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Richard Wagner to the top court’s bench.

“Justice Wagner’s candidacy comes following a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process of his merit and commitment to legal excellence,” Harper said this morning in announcing the replacement for retired justice Marie Deschamps.

“Held in high esteem by his judicial colleagues and members of his bar association, he is an exceptional candidate with the skills and qualifications needed to serve Canadians well.”

Born in Montreal in 1957, Wagner graduated from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law in 1979. Following his call to the bar in 1980, he was a partner at Lavery de Billy until his appointment to the Quebec Superior Court in 2004. In private practice, he mainly focused on professional liability of lawyers, accountants, architects, and engineers and on commercial litigation in relation to real estate, oppression remedies, and class actions.

During his time at the Superior Court’s Montreal district, he served in the civil, commercial, and criminal divisions before he joined the Quebec Court of Appeal in February 2011.

Wagner’s nomination follows a selection process that included the deliberations of a selection panel of five MPs. The members were Conservatives Jacques Gourde, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, and Greg Rickford, as well as NDP MP Françoise Boivin and Liberal Stéphane Dion. They reviewed and assessed a list of qualified candidates put forward by the minister of justice in consultation with Harper, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, the chief justice of Quebec, the attorney general of Quebec, and other legal organizations. The panel’s mandate was to provide an unranked list of three qualified candidates to Harper and the minister of justice for their consideration.

For the next stage of the process, Wagner will appear before an ad hoc parliamentary committee on Thursday to answer questions.

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