Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Civil Servant's Interpretation of Canadian Law

"So while I typed out notes during the phone call, I took the extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step of making an audio recording of the conversation without so advising the Clerk."
"This is something that I have never done before this phone call and have not done since."
"It does not matter how I would look in doing that -- I would be a mockery, and that is not the problem -- [in acceding to the persistent and frequent urging of principals in the PMO and the Clerk of the Privy Council to shelve her moral principles and go astride the law to satisfy the wish for the Prime Minister to shield SNC Lavalin from criminal prosecution], the bigger problem is what it would look like down the road for the government."
"One, it has never been done before, but two, this is going to look like nothing but political interference by the prime minister, by you, by everyone else that has been involved in politically pressuring me to do this."
"This conversation, previous conversations I’ve had with the PM and people around him are entirely inappropriate. It is political interference."
Jody Wilson-Raybould, former Minister of Justice

"You are not just the attorney general, you are the minister of justice in a cabinet. I am not seeing anything inappropriate here."
"That is not my recollection of the conversation [above]. I do not have an independent recollection of the event. I did not wear a wire, record the conversation or take extemporaneous notes."
Michael Wernick, former Clerk of the Privy Council

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould take part in the grand entrance as the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission is released on Dec. 15, 2015. (The Canadian Press)

"[The clerk of the Privy Council Office (PCO) never briefed Justin Trudeau on his talk with ex-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould."
"[The Prime Minister was] unaware of the full contents of this recording before today."
"[The prime minister] should have spoken directly with the former justice minister and attorney general about this matter — and wishes that she had come to him."
"[There was] clearly an erosion of trust over the past few months between PMO, the clerk of the Privy Council, and the former justice minister and attorney general."
Statement from the Prime Minister's Office

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau professed to being confused over his former Attorney-General's claims of having been relentlessly harassed by his executive assistants and advisers. They, evidently, took it upon themselves with no guidance whatever from him, much less orders, to press Jody Wilson-Rayboult to reconsider her decision not to intervene when the prosecutorial services decided not to extend a DPA agreement to SNC Lavalin over its criminal bribery (under Canadian law) of Libyan officials to secure contracts.

A Delayed Prosecution Agreement which would have resulted in the construction and engineering firm paying a fine, pledging to reform, and getting on with business rather than facing a criminal trial and being restricted from government contracts for a ten-year penalty period. The prosecution service, held to be immune from political interference had determined that SNC did not qualify under the provisions that might exempt it from a criminal trial, and the former Minister of Justice agreed. And she was not amenable to being badgered by anyone to reverse her judgement.

When Michael Wernick returned again to the subject with Wilson-Raybould he made it clear that he was intervening on the direct orders of the prime minister: " I am going to have to report back before he leaves...he is in a pretty firm frame of mind about this so...I am a bit worried..." It takes no genius mind to infer from that statement that direct and immediate contact took place between himself and the prime minister and what the subject was. And the threat implicit in " is not a good idea for the Prime Minister and his Attorney General to be at loggerheads" speaks volumes of the reason for Wilson-Raybould's removal as Minister of Justice.

And certainly while Clerk of the Privy Council snapped at the Justice Committee interviewing him about the matter that he wasn't wearing a wire, that he hadn't made a recording, that he simply did not recall the type of details that in her testimony before the committee Jody Wilson-Raybould made it quite clear just how she was being pressured by all and sundry to change her judgement in favour of following the prime minister's line because "jobs were at stake", his recalcitrance to recall was laid bare by the simple reality that someone else recorded a critical conversation revealing absolute proof of malfeasance and false testimony.

And, as Wilson Raybould admitted when she realized that the fix was in and she was about to suffer the consequences: "I am waiting for big...the other shoe to drop, so I am not under any illusion how the Prime Minister has and gets things that he wants...I am just stuck doing the best job that I can..." presaging her dismissal and how wise she was in retrospect to record that damning conversation for posterity and an unfortunate legacy for this dismal failure of a Liberal government headed by a pretentious and unprepared-to-govern, egotistical dilettante.

"The prime minister stated publicly when issues about the propriety of the government's conduct in relation to the SNC matter arose that my ongoing presence in cabinet spoke for itself."
"I resigned the next day and I trust my resignation also speaks for itself."
Jody Wilson-Raybould

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