Harper Nominates Cromwell for the SCC

Prime Minister Harper has nominated Justice Thomas Cromwell of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to fill the Supreme Court of Canada vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Michel Bastarache. Today’s nomination ends the work of Parliament’s politically-mired Supreme Court Selection Panel, which failed to arrive at a short list of suitable candidates. The following announcement was made on the website for the Office of the Prime Minister:

5 September 2008
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson today announced the Honourable Justice Thomas A. Cromwell as the Government’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada left by the resignation of the Honourable Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache. Mr. Justice Cromwell currently sits on the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

“Thomas Cromwell’s candidacy was highly recommended by judges, lawyers and other Atlantic Canadians,” said Prime Minister Harper. “He is well qualified to serve on the country’s highest court.”

Today’s announcement suspends the work of the Supreme Court Selection Panel, which to date has failed to arrive at a short list of recommended candidates. Earlier this week, two scheduled days of consultations by the Supreme Court Selection Panel had to be cancelled because all three Opposition MPs failed to participate. Last month, the first meeting of the Selection Panel considered no substantive business because of Opposition objection to the panel’s composition.

Mr. Justice Cromwell is an eminently qualified jurist who was among the potential candidates that the Selection Panel was supposed to consider. In 1997 the government of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed him directly to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

The Prime Minister said that an appointment will not be made until Mr. Justice Cromwell has the opportunity to answer questions from an ad hoc all-party committee of the House of Commons. This would be only the second time in Canadian history that a Supreme Court nominee faced questions from Members of Parliament.

“I am looking forward to watching the ad hoc committee’s work and listening to Mr. Cromwell’s answers,” said the Prime Minister.

The authority to make Supreme Court appointments is constitutionally vested in the Governor in Council. The participation of an ad hoc parliamentary committee is intended to enhance the transparency of the appointments process and to promote public understanding of the individual nominee and the role of the Court.

Please see the curriculum vitae below for further information on Mr. Justice Cromwell.

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Personal and Education Information:

Born in 1952 in Kingston, Ontario. Educated at Queen’s University, B. Music 1973, LL.B 1976, Royal Conservatory of Music, A.R.C.T. 1973, Oxford University, B. Civil Law 1977. Called to the Bar of Ontario in 1979 and to the Bar of Nova Scotia in 1984. Married June 6, 1980 to Della Stanley of Kingston, one child, Tom Cromwell.

Practice Information:

Partner, O’Hara,Cromwell and Wilkin, 1979-1982. Arbitrator and adjudicator under Trade Union Act, Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Education Act, and the Canada Labour Code, 1984-1992. Vice-Chair, Labour Relations Board(Nova Scotia) and Construction Industry Panel, 1991-1992. Executive Legal Officer, Chambers of the Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Canada, 1992-1995. Litigation Associate, Weir and Foulds, 1995-1997.

Teaching Information:

Special Lecturer in Civil Procedure, Queen’s University, Faculty of Law 1980-1982. Associate Professor and Professor of Law, Dalhousie Law School 1982-1992 and 1995-1997.

Committee Participation Information:

Member, Board of Directors 1998 – and Chair of Board 2007-, Canadian Forum for Civil Justice. President 1999 – 2001 and Past President 2001-2003, Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice. Past President, President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Member 1983-1990, Canadian Association of Law Teachers. President and Vice President and Executive Member, Continuing Legal Education Society of Nova Scotia.

Judicial Career:

Judge of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal 1997- .

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