Quebec appeal judge seen as likely pick for top court

A former university professor who is a respected expert in constitutional, administrative and labour law is emerging as a strong favourite for the next appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to choose imminently from a list of three candidates that an all-party Parliamentary committee has prepared.

Two more Quebec vacancies will arise in the coming years, when Mr. Justice Morris Fish reaches mandatory retirement in 2013, and when Mr. Justice Louis LeBel retires in 2014. The two people not selected in this round are bound to figure prominently later.

Madam Justice Marie-France Bich, 56, of the Quebec Court of Appeal is widely seen as the leading contender for the nomination. A full-time law professor at the University of Montreal from 1983 until her 2004 appointment to the Quebec Court of Appeal, Judge Bich also presided over the Quebec bar association’s labour and employment law committee from 1997 to 2004. Choosing her would spare Mr. Harper the controversy of not replacing Madam Justice Marie Deschamps with a woman.

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