Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould took a wrecking ball to the House of Commons today with her testimony before the Standing Committee on Justice when she described the pressure, direct and indirect,interference applied to her and her Chief of Staff to abandon the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin over bribery charges resulting from business dealings in Libya.
The issue was over so-called Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA) which was only brought in as a tool in the Criminal Code as a result of a tack on to the budget legislation in July and passed by Parliament in September.
There seems to be no doubt that this tool was enacted with the sole purpose of affecting the ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin in this case.
The pressure being applied to Wilson-Raybould began in early September before the ink was barely dry on the legislation. The former AG’s opening statement set the table for what was to come.
“For a period of approximately four months between September and December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin. These events involved 11 people (excluding myself and my political staff) – from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This included in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails, and text messages. There were approximately 10 phone calls and 10 meetings specifically about SNC-Lavalin that I and/or my staff was a part of.”
“Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the necessity for interference in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential for consequences, and veiled threats if a DPA was not made available to SNC. These conversations culminated on December 19, 2018, with a phone conversation I had with the Clerk of the Privy Council – a conversation for which I will provide some significant detail.”
After the Christmas break when she returned to Parliament on January 7th, she was told by the Prime Minister she was being removed as Attorney General and being shuffled to Veterans Affairs in what was clearly a demotion.
What this also does is lay bare the inherent corruption in the Liberal Party of Canada and as such as government.
The Trudeau government was barely in office when lobbyists for SNCLavalin came knocking looking for help after they were charged criminally in 2015 with offering Libyan government officials $48 million in bribes and defrauding Libya organizations of a further $130 million.
The list of who SNC lobbied over the next couple of years reads like a veritable who’s who of the Liberal government and ultimately reached into the PMO and the Privy Council and virtually all stops in between.
What seems unclear at this point is whether or not the Prime Minister can still command the respect of Parliament. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer gave a press conference after her testimony and called upon the Prime Minister to resign.
In 1983, when PierreTrudeau was feeling the pressure of office he took a “walk in the snow” to consider his position. He resigned the office of Prime Minister the next day.
It’s time for the RCMP to get involved and begin investigating whether a breach of Sec 139 of the Criminal Code occurred and if so, by whom.
It’s also time for the Prime Minister to take his own “walk in the snow” and consider his position.