The Canadian Politician (Toronto) –Canadians now know what transpired in the numerous conversations between the former Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and the prime minister’s office on the controversy involving SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based engineering giant. What Canadians heard in the testimony of the principal witness today will not give them any comfort that the Trudeau’s government blatantly disregarded the fine line between politics and the legal process. Wilson-Raybould stated before the Justice Committee that she was pressured by the Prime Minister and a tribe of senior staff members, the top public servant and the finance minister Bill Morneau’s office.
All of these individuals, Wilson-Raybould told the commission, mounted undue pressure on her to dissuade the Director of Public Prosecution, Kathleen Roussel, from pursuing criminal prosecution of the SNC-Lavalin in the bribery of case involving Libyan government officials. Before today’s stunning testimony, Wilson-Raybould was unable to tell her side of the story due to a binding solicitor-client privilege that prevented her from speaking publicly about the matter.
With that privilege partially waived by the prime minister, Wilson-Raybould told the committee of how she was in her words “hounded” consistently to prevail upon Roussel to tow the path of Deferred Prosecution Agreement that will see SNC-Lavalin pay a handsome fine and pledge to change its corporate behavior. Wilson-Raybould stated, “For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 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.”
She further indicated how the Trudeau government put political considerations and the company’s viability above the judicial process by reminding her of the costly fallout of refusal at the provincial and federal levels. In a bid to have her ‘play ball,’ Wilson–Raybould stated that the pressure mounted on her and her staff was multifaceted and exerted via phone calls, meetings and text messages. She told the committee that she received approximately 10 phone calls and emails and several text messages, all with the singular purpose of persuading her to have change of mind.
She said they repeatedly told her that she had the constitutional authority to override the decision of the director of public prosecution in her role as attorney general of Canada. Wilson-Raybould indicated that the relentless pressure came after she had made it clear that she was not interested in interfering in the matter. At the height of her refusal to succumb to the pressure, she was reminded that the prime minister was “going to find a way to get it done one way or the other.”
Wilson-Trudeau talked about what she called “veiled threats” directed at her by Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council on December 19. He suggested that she could lose her job if her office moved forward with prosecution. Her testimony has given credence to the fact that she may have been demoted to the Veteran Affairs ministry to make way for Trudeau to “get it done.” Wilson-Raybould resigned less than a month after her demotion in the wake of the Globe and Mail first report that political pressure was exerted on the minister to ‘play ball.’