News / Canada

Hearing date to be set next month in Supreme Court appointments case

HALIFAX — A court date has been set in the legal battle between Atlantic trial lawyers and Ottawa to ensure the East Coast keeps its traditional seat on the Supreme Court of Canada

Wagners Law Firm says the two sides are scheduled to be in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Oct. 5 to set a date for a hearing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said regional representation is important, but he won't commit to ensuring the country's top court has a judge from Atlantic Canada as he seeks other kinds of diversity.

The Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association says it is seeking an order from Nova Scotia Supreme Court that would require the federal government to amend the Constitution if it wants to drop regional representation as constitutional convention.

The association says such a change would require unanimous consent of the provinces.

Justice Thomas Cromwell from Nova Scotia has retired from the bench, but Trudeau appears to be departing from the convention of automatically filling that place with another judge from the region.

On Thursday, the federal Conservatives introduced a motion in the Commons calling on the prime minister to respect the tradition of Atlantic representation on the court.

During question period, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould defended the government's process, adding she looks forward to working with the independent advisory board regarding the next Supreme Court justice.