Supreme Court President Glenn Joyal says his name is being used to "promote an agenda" in the SNC-Lavalin dispute



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Supreme Court President Glenn Joyal of Queen's Bench Court of Manitoba.

Manitoba Courts photo

A Manitoba judge said his name is being used improperly to serve someone's "agenda" in the dispute between the former justice minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Liberal government.

Manitoba Supreme Court Chief Justice Glenn Joyal was a candidate for the Canadian Supreme Court seat created by the retirement of former Judge Beverley McLachlin in December 2017.

News from The Canadian Press and CTV on Monday said that Wilson-Raybould, who accused the Liberal government of political interference in his role as Attorney General, pressured Supreme Court chief Joyal to replace McLachlin in court. be chief of justice. In a statement, Ms. Wilson-Raybould declined to comment on whether she supported Judge Joyal in court, citing the confidentiality of the nomination process.

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The appointments of the Supreme Court are decided by the prime minister and the minister of justice is consulted on the subject. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Judge Sheilah Martin, a judge of the Alberta Court of Appeal, to the Supreme Court and Richard Wagner of Quebec as chairman of the Supreme Court.

Related: PMO knew about disagreement between the promoters of SNC-Lavalin

Quoting anonymous sources, the reports suggested that Trudeau doubted Wilson-Raybould's judgment when she supported Judge Joyal, the conservative leader who questioned the Supreme Court's broad stance on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Trudeau advocated a liberal interpretation of Charter rights.

But in a statement, Supreme Court Chief Justice Joyal said he withdrew his candidacy for personal reasons, "because of my wife's metastatic breast cancer." He did not say the date he retired. He did not immediately respond on Monday evening to e-mail questions from The Globe and Mail.

"I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Canadian Supreme Court to promote an agenda unrelated to the nomination process," he said in the statement. "This is wrong."

Ms. Wilson-Raybould has been at the center of a political storm since The Globe published allegations on Feb. 7 that senior members of the prime minister's office pressured her to stop SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec engineering firm , was processed. bribery and fraud.

Since then, she has testified in a Commons committee that Trudeau was among government officials who pressed her at least 20 times on SNC-Lavalin's charge over a four-month period. She was transferred from her position in January to Veterans Affairs, which she later resigned. The top secretary of the prime minister and top government official also resigned, and a second minister, Jane Philpott, resigned in support of Wilson-Raybould.

Supreme Court candidates apply or are invited to apply for a nonpartisan committee. Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell heads the committee, which submits a list of three to five names to the prime minister for consideration. The prime minister decides who will be nominated.

Sources at Globe and Mail at the time described Supreme Court president Joyal as one of the top candidates. The former prosecutor was named for the first time a provincial court judge in 1998 by the progressive conservative government.

Later he was appointed during the years of Stephen Harper as prime minister of the province's Court of Appeal and then as head of the provincial court of first instance. In comparison, Justice Martin had strong liberal credentials as a former dean of law, author and feminist with experience in sexual assault law. Mrs. Wilson-Raybould had appointed her to the Alberta Court of Appeal in one of her first consultations.

Wilson-Raybould also denied the reports.

"There was no conflict," she said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "The final decision on the appointment to the SCC is always the PMs. In this process, there are usually confidential conversations and communications between the PM." and the MOJAG [minister of justice and attorney-general] on potential candidates for appointment. "

Regarding the details of the report, she declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of the nomination process.

I am not at liberty to comment on their veracity. However, I find it extremely disturbing that people are asking these questions and where they have received such information. Comments / reports regarding a CEC appointment may compromise the integrity of the nomination process, our institutions and potentially seated judges. "

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She added that she is proud of both Supreme Court appointments during the liberal term, Judge Martin and Judge Malcolm Rowe of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Peter Russell, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Toronto, said the role of the Justice Minister is to overcome the process by ensuring that it works properly. In an interview, he said she is unlikely to write a 60-page memo in favor of a candidate, as anonymous sources told President Joyal.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office declined to comment.

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