POLITICS

Conservative MP under election expense cloud to help pick Supreme Court justice

06/11/2013 02:20 EDT | Updated 08/11/2013 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - A Conservative-dominated panel that will help choose the next Supreme Court of Canada justice includes an MP who Elections Canada says should be suspended from Parliament.

Manitoba MP Shelley Glover is one of three Conservatives named to the five-member panel Tuesday by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

Glover is currently engaged in a court battle with Elections Canada over her 2011 campaign expense return.

The elections watchdog took the extraordinary step last month of writing to the House of Commons Speaker saying that Glover and fellow Manitoba Tory James Bezan should lose their voting and other House privileges until their campaign expenses are in order.

Speaker Andrew Scheer has ruled that because Glover and Bezan are fighting Elections Canada in court, he will not suspend them from the Commons — although he is revisiting his decision after being challenged by the Liberals.

The panel will recommend three candidates to the prime minister and the justice minister, who will choose one to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Morris Fish.

"Ms. Glover is fluently bilingual and more than qualified," Julie Di Mambro, a spokeswoman for Nicholson, said in an email.

"As a former police officer, she has been a champion for justice-related issues and we have full confidence in her abilities."

However Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Glover could face a conflict of interest should her legal fight with Elections Canada advance to the highest court in the country.

"When there's a case before the courts that may well end up at the Supreme Court, if indeed Ms. Glover is on that committee, it seems sort of perhaps a bit of a conflict for her to sit there," Trudeau said outside the Commons.

He said the optics aren't good for a Conservative government that's faced a series of ethics allegations this spring.

The other Conservative MPs on the panel are Jacques Gourde and Robert Goguen, while the NDP is represented by Francoise Boivin and the Liberals by Dominic LeBlanc.

A government release says they are to consult with Canada's chief justice, Beverley McLachlin, Quebec's chief justice and attorney general, the Canadian and Quebec bar associations "and, at their discretion, other prominent members or organizations of the legal community."