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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must delay appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court until conducting an inquiry into the “damaging, politically motivated leaks” to the media about the 2017 nomination process, says Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
In a letter addressed to the prime minister released Tuesday, Scheer called the leaks detailing the disagreement between Trudeau and then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould over the court appointment a “misguided attempt at damage control” that threaten to undermine the integrity of the justice system and the Supreme Court of Canada.
The prime minister, he said, must launch an inquiry into the leaks to “protect these institutions” and should refrain from nominating a new justice until it concludes.
“Should you continue to refuse to open an investigation, Canadians will have no choice but to conclude that you and your advisers were complicit in these leaks,” he wrote.
Supreme Court Justice Clément Gascon announced Monday that he would resign in mid-September, citing “personal and family reasons.” Replacing the Quebec jurist offers Trudeau the opportunity to name a third justice to the court.
Media leaks last month divulged reported disagreements Trudeau had with Wilson-Raybould back in 2017 over her recommendation of Manitoba Justice Glenn D. Joyal to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court prompted by the retirement of Beverley McLachlin.
Wilson-Raybould wanted Joyal to succeed McLachlin as chief justice, though Trudeau reportedly was concerned that the judge wasn’t committed to protecting LGBTQ2 rights and abortion access, since they’re not enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Alberta judge Sheilah Martin was named to the Supreme Court instead, with Richard Wagner being elevated to chief justice.
Wilson-Raybould denied that there was a conflict between her and Trudeau over Joyal, while Trudeau has largely refused comment, saying only that appointments to the Supreme Court have always been at the discretion of the prime minister.
The Tories claimed the Liberals leaked the information to undermine Wilson-Raybould’s accusations that senior government officials inappropriately pressured her to secure a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau has denied these accusations, repeatedly maintaining that his office was not responsible for the leaks.
However, Scheer writes in his letter to Trudeau that the leaker alerted the media to facts and personal details — like Trudeau’s mental state — that only could have been known to someone close to the prime minister, such as a friend or adviser.
He said he worries the leaks about the 2017 selection process would discourage “highly qualified candidates from putting their names forward” to replace Gascon.
The Liberal majority on the House justice committee last week voted against a Tory motion to launch a study into the leak.

April 19, 2019

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