Faced with insinuations of improper conduct from the Prime Minister's Office and reported widely in the press, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sets the record straight in the press release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In response to recent media reports, the office of the Chief Justice of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. is releasing the following statement.
At no time was there any communication between Chief Justice McLachlin and the government regarding any case before the courts. The facts are as follows:
On April 22, 2013, as a courtesy, the Chief Justice met with the Prime Minister to give him Justice Fish's retirement letter. As is customary, they briefly discussed the needs of the Supreme Court of Canada.
On July 29, 2013, as part of the usual process the Chief Justice met with the Parliamentary committee regarding the appointment of Justice Fish's successor. She provided the committee with her views on the needs of the Supreme Court.
On July 31, 2013, the Chief Justice’s office called the Minister of Justice's office and the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Mr. Novak, to flag a potential issue regarding the eligibility of a judge of the federal courts to fill a Quebec seat on the Supreme Court. Later that day, the Chief Justice spoke with the Minister of Justice, Mr. MacKay, to flag the potential issue. The Chief Justice's office also made preliminary inquiries to set up a call or meeting with the Prime Minister, but ultimately the Chief Justice decided not to pursue a call or meeting.
The Chief Justice had no other contact with the government on this issue.
The Chief Justice provided the following statement: "Given the potential impact on the Court, I wished to ensure that the government was aware of the eligibility issue. At no time did I express any opinion as to the merits of the eligibility issue. It is customary for Chief Justices to be consulted during the appointment process and there is nothing inappropriate in raising a potential issue affecting a future appointment."
Photo: flickr/Robert Lindsell
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