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Supreme Court justice retires, giving Harper chance to appoint majority

Canada's Supreme Court Justices pose for a photo at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa November 14, 2011. The Justices are (bottom row L - R) Morris Fish, Louis LeBel, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Marie Deschamps, Rosalie Abella; (top row L - R) Michael Moldaver, Marshall Rothstein, Thomas Cromwell and Andromache Karakatsanis.

BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS/Blair Gable

A vacancy has opened at the Supreme Court of Canada, giving Prime Minister Stephen Harper the opportunity to appoint a majority of the court's justices.

Madam Justice Marie Deschamps announced Friday that she is leaving the court at the relative young age of 59.

Her retirement is effective later this summer, August 7.

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Mr. Harper has appointed four of the court's current nine justices: Marshall Rothstein, Thomas Cromwell, Andromache Karakatsanis and Michael Moldaver.

Another vacancy is also expected soon. Mr. Justice Morris Fish, a 73-year-old Montreal native, is approaching mandatory retirement in 2013.

Judge Deschamps's replacement would also have to come from Quebec.

A former justice of the Quebec Superior Court and Court of Appeal, Judge Deschamps often took a hand in cases involving Quebec civil law.

"We will miss her wisdom, intelligence, keen wit and boundless energy. She has been a wonderful colleague and will always be a good friend," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said in a statement.

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National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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