CORNER BROOK, N.L. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says regional representation is important but won't commit to ensuring the country's top court has a judge from Atlantic Canada.
Trudeau said Monday his Liberal government is weighing several factors as it considers the next vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada.
"We need to make sure that we're folding in all sorts of different aspects to get the best possible people to sit on the Supreme Court," he told reporters in Corner Brook, N.L., as he began a string of East Coast visits.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledges the crowd during an event with MP Gudie Hutchings in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador on August 15, 2016. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/CP)
"Having the perspective from Atlantic Canada is an extremely important one, and we're looking forward to making sure we make the right choice."
Justice Thomas Cromwell from Nova Scotia retires next month but Trudeau appears to be departing from the convention of automatically filling that place with another judge from the region.
That prospect drew criticism last week after the government announced it would make the selection process more transparent by having a new non-partisan advisory board develop a short list of potential new judges. The seven-member independent panel led by former prime minister Kim Campbell will review candidates from across the country.
"We need to make sure that we're folding in all sorts of different aspects to get the best possible people to sit on the Supreme Court."
Trudeau's mandate letter to Campbell asks her to ensure prospective judges are "functionally bilingual" and reflect Canada's ethnic diversity. Candidates from Atlantic Canada are expected to be on that short list and are encouraged to apply.
The president of the Canadian Bar Association, Janet Fuhrer, wrote Wednesday to Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, urging them to respect the regional appointment custom.
The prime minister was greeted by hundreds of selfie-seeking people as he visited a Memorial University of Newfoundland campus in Corner Brook. He made a brief morning stop there after meeting with Liberal Premier Dwight Ball on his way to the St. John's region. He was to travel on to New Brunswick later Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Newfoundland and Labrador premier Dwight Ball in Corner Brook on August 15, 2016. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/CP)
Trudeau said he was up late Sunday night watching Olympics coverage of Andre De Grasse becoming Canada's latest athletic hero with a bronze medal in the 100-metre sprint. It was the first medal for a Canadian male at these games.
"It is 2016 which means the girls are doing extraordinarily well," he said.
"But I must admit I stayed up late to watch Andre De Grasse do just an extraordinary job in the 100-metre.
"We've got a great Olympic team and all of Canada is incredibly behind them."