Jody Wilson-Raybould: ‘I am issuing the strongest warning I can possibly issue’

Here are the most important — and gripping — moments of a phone call between the former Attorney General and the Clerk of the Privy Council that may come to define the SNC-Lavalin scandal

Jody Wilson-Raybould appears at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Likely the most explosive component of the detailed brief that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould provided to the House of Commons justice committee this week—which was released publicly late on Friday afternoon—is a recording and transcript of a Dec. 19, 2018 phone call she had with the Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick. Wilson-Raybould had previously given detailed testimony to the committee on this call; Wernick offered a very different account of its tone and content, but responded to questions about the discrepancies in their accounts by telling the committee, “I did not wear a wire.”

It turns out that Wilson-Raybould effectively had.

LISTEN:  Jody Wilson-Raybould’s phone call with Michael Wernick

The former attorney general said she took the “extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step” of recording the call because she was alone in her condo in Vancouver at the time, without staff to take notes as was her usual practice, and because “I had reason to believe that it was likely to be an inappropriate conversation.”

At the outset of the conversation, Wernick explained the mood of the Prime Minister and his determination to find a solution given “anxiety” about the jobs at risk:

“So the PM wants to be able to say that he has tried everything he can within a legitimate toolbox to try to head that off. So he is quite determined, quite firm, but he wants to know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn’t being used. And I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another. So, he is in that kinda mood and I wanted you to be aware of that.”

Wilson-Raybould made it clear that she found the ongoing discussions of the issue inappropriate, while addressing Justin Trudeau’s idea of seeking additional input from former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin:

“Right so, um, I again am confident in where I am at on my views on SNC and the DPA haven’t changed — this is a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence that, Michael, I have to say, including this conversation and previous conversations that I have had with Prime Minister and many other people around it, it is entirely inappropriate and it is political interference. The Prime Minister obviously can talk to whomever he wants, but what I am trying to do is to protect him. I could have a conversation with Beverley McLachlin, I can call her right now, um, I am just, um, issuing the strongest warning I can possibly issue that decisions that are made by the independent prosecutor are their decisions. We gave her, and them, the tools, the additional tools, I made it very clear at the cabinet table and other places that these tools are at the discretion of the prosecutor, and everybody agreed to that and that there was no guarantee that there would be a DPA in this or any other case. So we are treading on dangerous ground here, and I am going to issue my stern warning, um, because I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn’t independent, I cannot act in a partisan way and I cannot be politically motivated. All of this screams of that.”



Jody Wilson-Raybould warned of Trudeau’s political interference in tense call with Michael Wernick























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