OTTAWA – Following another contested Conservative judicial appointment for Quebec, the province’s justice minister is now asking its top court to clarify the Constitutional rules for appointing judges.
The question concerns the federal government’s June appointment of Federal Court of Appeal Judge Robert Mainville to the Quebec Court of Appeal, which was supposed to be effective July 1.
But Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée wants the Quebec Court of Appeal’s opinion on who the federal government is allowed to appoint.
“It is essential for clarification of the constitutional rules for these appointments, to ensure expertise in civil law legal traditions and social values of Quebec,” Vallée said in the French news release.
The legal notice asks for an interpretation of Section 98 of the Constitution Act 1867, including the validity of appointing judges who are members of the federal courts.
Section 98 states: “Judges of the Courts of Quebec shall be selected from the bar of that province.”
A spokesperson for Justice Minister Peter MacKay did not immediately respond to request for comment on Monday. But MacKay has previously defended Mainville’s appointment, saying his wealth of knowledge “will be of significant benefit to the Quebec Court of Appeal.”
Mainville’s appointment has already been challenged in federal court by Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati.
Galati is the same lawyer who challenged Federal Court of Appeal judge Marc Nadon’s appointment as one of three Quebec judges on the Supreme Court. The appointment was eventually struck down by the top court itself because Nadon did not come from the Quebec courts and was not a current member of the Quebec bar.
Vallée’s office said she won’t comment during the court proceedings.
The Chief Justice of Quebec has already said the Federal Court has no jurisdiction in her province.
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