Canada PM Stephen Harper 'Attempted' to Intimidate Supreme Court Judges

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 6, 2014 2:55 PM EST

The Canadian government is accused of trying to "intimidate" Supreme Court judges. Such allegation recently rocked the House of Commons after a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court apparently consulted with Prime Minister Stephen Harper about judicial appointments.

REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses while delivering a statement during a photo opportunity in his Langevin Block office in Ottawa May 5, 2014.

Ottawa Citizen reported NDP Leader Tom Mulcair blasted Justice Minister Peter MacKay asking if the attorney general considered it was a part of his job to ensure there will never be any "attempts to intimidate the courts" in the country.

Mulcair said the attorney general's job was not to help the prime minister attack the chief justice but to defend the integrity of the Canadian court system.

"Is our attorney general telling us that he will be the henchman of the prime minister in this unwarranted, unprecedented attack on the Supreme Court and its chief justice?" he asked.

Harper was also criticized for the verbal battle he had against Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in the previous week. The Canadian Bar Association wanted Harper to clarify in public that it was not wrong of McLachlin, the longest-serving chief justice of Canada, to try to raise a question related to the nomination of a justice to the Supreme Court.

Harper's office suggested it was inappropriate to question the eligibility of Quebec nominee Marc Nadon for the court.

According to the Supreme Court Act, Quebec judges must have minimum 10 years of experience at the Quebec bar. Also, they can also be nominated if they come from the Court of Appeal or Superior Court of the province.

BUt McKay said there was nothing in the Act that could prohibit the appointment of a Federal Court judge to one of the Quebec slots on the top bench unless the Supreme Court ruled against Nadon considering him ineligible.

Mulcair was clearly not impressed with the government's take on the matter. He alleged it was "a direct attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court."

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(Photo: REUTERS/Chris Wattie / )
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses while delivering a statement during a photo opportunity in his Langevin Block office in Ottawa May 5, 2014.
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