10/02/2013 01:04 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Marc Nadon, New Supreme Court Nominee, Says He Chose Law Over NHL

OTTAWA - Canadians got their first close look Wednesday at the latest nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada: a bow-tie wearing bilingual Quebecer, self-confessed bookworm and former pro hockey draft pick.

Marc Nadon, nominated this week to fill the vacant seat on the top court, was lightly grilled by a parliamentary committee that went out of its way to avoid the kind of ruthless inquisition endured by nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nadon faced few tough questions from the MPs, who were cautioned before proceedings began that queries about the nominee's personal life and his views on controversial issues were off-limits.

Anything that approached the contentious — Nadon's dissenting opinion in the Federal Court of Appeal's split decision in the Omar Khadr case, for instance — was quickly shut down by the committee's Conservative MPs or deftly dodged by the presumptive high court member himself.

The soft-spoken Nadon instead shared his thoughts on maritime law — a particular area of expertise — and made several references to literary works, such as Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield" and the memoirs of former U.K. Lord Chancellor Elwyn Jones.

"Reading, for me, has always been a great passion," he said. "It is a full-time effort only constrained by the number of hours in a given day."

Nadon also spoke of growing up in the Laurentian region north of Montreal, and of being raised by a father who played hockey in the 1940s and a mother who sang professionally.

He told MPs he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL when he was 14 years old, but his father told him to choose between sports and continuing his schooling.

He talked about wanting to become a psychologist, only to be told by a school guidance counsellor that he lacked the necessary credits and might want to consider a career in law instead.

He graduated from the University of Sherbrooke in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in civil law and was called to the Quebec bar the following year.

Nadon has served as a judge on the Federal Court of Appeal since 2001. Before that, he was a Federal Court judge, a judge of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada and a judicial member of the Competition Tribunal.

He practised law at the firm Faskin Martineau Walker before his appointment to the Federal Court.

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