Her government was intensely lobbied, but the law is clear.
She was right. And Canadians deserve to know what really happened. Photo via Shutterstock.
Under a so-called “deferred prosecution agreement” (DPA), the prosecutor stays proceedings against the organization, which in turn pays a fine, offers some form of remediation, and agrees to stronger reporting requirements. If the company meets all the terms of a DPA, charges are dropped.
Much has been said about how a reasonable attorney general might opt for the DPA considering all the harm a criminal conviction of the engineering giant might do to the economies of Quebec and Canada.
But if you read the actual language creating the DPA option, it will become clear why Wilson-Raybould and her director of public prosecutions Kathleen Roussel were not only correct in their decision, but required to make it.
When firms are charged under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, as was SNC-Lavalin…
“The prosecutor,” states the legislation, “must not consider the national economic interest, the potential effect on relations with a state other than Canada, or the identity of the organization or individual involved.”
SNC-Lavalin is at the centre of a claim that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by Trudeau government officials to help the organization avoid prosecution. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters )
In the week since the SNC-Lavalin story broke, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has changed his talking points several times.
After the story first hit, Trudeau insisted that the allegation in the Globe and Mail story — that Jody Wilson-Raybould had been pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office while serving as minister of justice to help the Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in a bribery case — was false. He said Wilson-Raybould’s continued presence in cabinet, as minister for Veterans Affairs, spoke for itself.
Then she quit — and the message changed. Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau said, had never raised with him the suggestion that the PMO was pressuring her to go easy on SNC-Lavalin, and he made it clear to her that any decisions on the file were hers alone to make.
The shifting nature of Trudeau’s explanations suggests a recognition that the government’s messaging has gotten out of hand and a correction was needed to contain some of the blowback, said one member of former prime minister Paul Martin’s inner circle. MORE
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a 1996 case that if government ethics laws are not strictly and strongly enforced, Canada will not be a democracy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould take part in the grand entrance as the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission is released, Tuesday December 15, 2015 in Ottawa. Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is quitting the federal cabinet days after allegations became public the Prime Minister’s Office pressured the former justice minister to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew says the federal Liberal government’s treatment of Jody Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin scandal has done serious damage to the party’s reputation with Indigenous people in Canada.
Indigenous people have “made up their mind” on the issue, Kinew told CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon during an interview airing Sunday.
“Jody Wilson-Raybould appears to be the one conducting herself with integrity and the prime minister seems to be playing politics as usual,” he said. “I think that has damaged Trudeau’s reputation as being Canada’s first woke prime minister.” MORE
As the scandal involving the Prime Minister’s Office and former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to grow by the day, everything that led up to it erupting last week is now getting a closer look.
That includes Wilson-Raybould’s involvement in the failed Indigenous rights framework that fell apart late last year.
Or more so, her apparent lack of involvement in what was supposed to be a game-changer for First Nations and the dismantling of the Indian Act.
“I feel the Prime Minister’s Office held (Wilson-Raybould) back on this work,” said Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band in British Columbia. “We were dealing mostly with Minister (Carolyn) Bennett who, as you know, rolled it out very terribly.” MORE
Jody Wilson-Raybould, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, seen in the foyer of the House of Commons, in Parliament in Ottawa on June 20, 2018. File photo by Alex Tétreault
Female politicians from all parties have come to former federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s defence after anonymous Trudeau government insiders labelled her difficult to work with and self-centred — an attack one Conservative calls a “disgusting” and sexist character assassination.
Wilson-Raybould — Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general — is at the centre of a political scandal sparked by a Globe and Mail report that someone in the Prime Minister’s Office pressed her to stop the prosecution of Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin on fraud and corruption charges.
A report by The Canadian Press exploring the relationship between Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office quoted a handful of anonymous government sources saying for example, that she “had become a thorn in the side of the cabinet,” and was “difficult to get along with, known to berate fellow cabinet ministers openly at the table, and who others felt they had trouble trusting.”
The report said these were cited as among the reasons Wilson-Raybould was demoted to the veterans affairs portfolio in a recent cabinet shuffle. They noted too that she had four chiefs of staff in three-and-a-half years and “only showed up to meetings when she felt like it,” according to the report by The Canadian Press . MORE
Bill Wilson, left, with former Assembly of First Nations grand chief Shawn Atleo ,at the AFN’s general meeting in Calgary in 2009. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
Not long after the Globe and Mail broke the story alleging that Justin Trudeau’s PMO had pressured former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to interfere in a criminal investigation involving Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, comparisons were drawn between the former lawyer from the We Wai Kai Nation and her father, Bill Wilson.
Wilson-Raybould, who was demoted to the Veterans Affairs portfolio, reportedly refused the order, reminding Canadians that she also comes from a formidable, constitutional-shaping political lineage; Wilson famously sparred with Pierre Trudeau in the 1980s.
He remains strongly vocal about Indigenous issues and critical of the federal government’s commitment to reconciliation.
The reality is that with Trudeau and this government, reconciliation is more a farce than the Conservatives.
The other thing is that she has a name—Puglass, which means “a good host”—in the potlatch that signifies that she’s an honest, high-ranking person. My value system, which is obviously different than Trudeau’s, places a higher order on acceptance by the people of your integrity than allegiance to some company. MORE
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 31, 2018. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood
TORONTO — The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is calling for a police investigation into bombshell allegations that Justin Trudeau’s office interfered in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin.
“Messing with the administration of justice is not just bad politics. It may be a crime,” CCLA executive director Michael Bryant said in a statement Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the Globe and Mail reported that the Prime Minister’s Office urged then attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a corruption case against the Quebec engineering and construction services company. The criminal case centres on allegations the company paid millions in bribes to secure government contracts in Libya.
“The reason why CCLA cares about this is you can’t have two different justice systems, one for everybody else and one for the powerful.”
The Globe reports the prime minister’s office wanted SNC-Lavalin to avoid going to trial and instead get a deal that would allow the company to pay a fine but admit no criminal wrongdoing. The deal is known as a “deferred prosecution agreement,” or a “remediation agreement, and was only made legal in Canada last year. MORE
If either the PMO or Wilson-Raybould had tried to direct the prosecutor’s office without making that instruction public, that would violate the law