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Couillard says Supreme Court selection process not acceptable

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard responds to Opposition questions, Monday, May 26, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

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Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard responds to Opposition questions, Monday, May 26, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

OTTAWA - Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard expressed disappointment on Monday with the Supreme Court selection process.

Couillard was reacting to a news report that a short list of six judges submitted by the Harper government for Supreme Court consideration included four from the Federal Court.

The successful Supreme Court candidate was thought to be Federal Court Justice Marc Nadon, but the high court later found him to be unsuitable because he did not meet the necessary criteria for Quebec judges under the Supreme Court Act.

"Frankly, this is not the way we want to see the process done," Couillard said when asked about the report in the Globe and Mail.

The newspaper suggested the government stacked the deck with Federal Court candidates as part of the selection process in hopes of nominating a more conservative judge than it believed was otherwise available in Quebec.

The inclusion of four Federal Court justices in the six judges recommended by the Harper government meant that at least one of them had to be among the three names a Commons committee sent to Harper for the final choice.

Quebec is supposed to have a say in the picking of a judge to fill a vacancy from the province, Couillard pointed out Monday.

"This is part of Quebec's traditional demands," he said in Quebec City.

The premier said provincial Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee has had good discussions with her federal counterpart, Peter MacKay, after Nadon's rejection by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Harper told Parliament that Federal Court justices had been eligible until the process that chose Justice Richard Wagner in 2012 but that the Supreme Court had decided otherwise since then.

MacKay has said a new justice will be named soon.

The post has been vacant since Justice Morris Fish retired in August 2013. Since then, Justice Louis LeBel has announced he will retire on Nov. 30, when he turns 75.

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