As the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is doing its level best to minimize the damage done to them in an election year by the SNC-Lavalin scandal, there’s been much debate about whether or not the behaviour of the Prime Minister, his former Principle Secretary Gerald Butts and the Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick in trying to change the mind of the Attorney General Jody Wilson Raybould amounted to anything criminal.
Section 139 (2) of the Criminal Code is, in my view, very clear relative to someone doing anything with a view to obstructing justice. Whether or not that attempt was successful, the mere act is a crime.
In this case, SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal construction and engineering company, was charged criminally in 2015 with bribery and fraud related to their attempts to win contracts in Libya. That same year the Trudeau Liberals were elected and the lobbying efforts by SNC-Lavalin began almost immediately.
They wanted the government to change the law to allow for deferred prosecution or remediation agreements to allow them to negotiate a fine and have the corruption charges dealt with that way, pay their fine and get on with business.
It is after all the way they have always done business. There are 117 Canadian companies sanctioned by the World Bank for corruption. 115 of 117 of these are SNC-Lavalin or affiliate companies.
One would have to wonder why any self-respecting government would let them get within miles of their leaders.
But they are heavy donors to the Liberals and those dollars buy them access. And their leaders, historically and currently, are Liberal insiders.
Take for example, Bruce Hartley, a former top aide to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, is a registered lobbyist for SNC-Lavalin. He attended two Liberal exclusive donor events in December 2017 and June 2018. The Prime Minister was the featured guest at both events. Also attending was the Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Gerald Butts and PMO Chief of Staff Katie Telford.
Shortly after the June event the Liberals included an amendment to the Criminal Code buried in a 586 page piece of budget legislation.
It became law in September and that’s when Trudeau had his first discussion with Wilson-Raybould about the criminal prosecution. He was told she would not intervene and that a deferred prosecution agreement was not appropriate given the circumstances.
But, in the feminist world of Justin Trudeau, evidently no does not mean no.
The pressure on the Attorney General began from Wernick, Butts and Telford. It is this pressure that constitutes an obstruction of justice.
The section reads: Every one who wilfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.
Once the Attorney General said to the Prime Minister that she had made her decision and all subsequent attempts to get her to change her mind was an attempt to obstruct justice as defined in the Criminal Code.
The Commissioner of the RCMP Brenda Lucki is between a rock and a hard place in this. Five former provincial and federal Attorneys General have written to her asking her to investigate. Yet, she owes her position to the affirmative action and gender equity policies of the Prime Minister.
She should order an investigation, but will she? Somehow, I doubt it. Meanwhile the corruption of SNC-Lavalin infects everything it touches.