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Bar association wades into Harper-SCOC spat

Bar association wades into Harper-SCOC spatBeverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, delivers a speech in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 5, 2013. McLachlin insisted Friday there was nothing wrong with how she and her office consulted with the federal government regarding a presumptive nominee to the high court's ranks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

OTTAWA - The association that represents lawyers in Canada is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to acknowledge the chief justice of the Supreme Court has done nothing wrong.

The Canadian Bar Association says it's deeply concerned about the public spat between Harper and Beverely McLachlin.

Harper has accused McLachlin of acting improperly last July when she advised his office that Marc Nadon, a Federal Court of Appeal judge, might not fit the legal criteria set for Quebec appointees to the Supreme Court.

McLachlin issued a statement saying all she wanted to ensure was the government was aware of the eligibility issue, but didn't express any opinion on the merits of the eligibility issue.

Bar association president Fred Headon says he hopes this is a misunderstanding but is expressing concern that Harper's comments could erode public confidence in the Supreme Court.

He says Harper should clarify publicly that McLachlin acted appropriately.

Harper ended up nominating Nadon and McLachlin swore him in last fall.

But constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati challenged the appointment and the Supreme Court ruled in March that Nadon did not meet the legislated eligibility requirements.

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