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Canada high court nominee to face parliamentary questioning for first time

[JURIST] The next nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] will face televised questioning from a parliamentary committee [press release], Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official profile] announced Monday. Justice John Major [official profile] retired from the court in December, and his replacement will be the first-ever nominee to face a US-style confirmation hearing. According to Harper, all four parties in the House of Commons will be represented on the 12-member committee, with none holding a majority of seats. The committee will question the nominee for two rounds totaling three hours. The prime minister will then consider the hearings, but has reserved the right to make the ultimate decision on the nomination. Neither the Canadian House of Commons or the Senate will vote on the matter.

A preliminary list of candidates [JURIST report] to replace Major was circulated last October and the proposed new justice will be announced Thursday. Hearings are scheduled to begin February 27 and Harper has vowed to announce his final decision by March 1. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin [official profile] has already spoken out against changes [JURIST report] to the nomination process, arguing that they could politicize the court. CBC News has more. Sitting Canadian Supreme Court justices have in the past expressed private reservations about US-style confirmation hearings, even suggesting that they might have preferred to have been passed over for nomination rather than endure a US-style "trial by television."

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