Chronology of Events – SNC Lavalin Affair
2016 – 2018 – Hundreds of meetings between PMO, Minister’s senior political staff and SNC-Lavalin.
September – December 2018 – 10 meetings and 10 phone calls involving 11 senior government officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, and PMO Chief of Staff Katie Telford, Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, PMO Senior Advisors Mathieu Bouchard, Elder Marques, and Amy Archer, and Minister Morneau’s Chief of Staff Ben Chin and Director of Policy Justin To.
September 4, 2018 – Director of Public Prosecutions tells SNC-Lavalin that the trial will go ahead. She also sends a Memo to Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould informing her of her view. At this point anyone would need a lawful authority to stop the trial. This was the beginning of a months-long unsolicited, coordinated and sustained attempt to stop the trial of SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges.
September 6, 2018 – Ben Chin, Chief of Staff to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, contacts Jessica Prince, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. He said that if SNC-Lavalin doesn’t get a deferred prosecution agreement they will move, and this is bad news since the Quebec election is around the corner.
September 6, 2018 – Justice ministerial staff draft a memo regarding the role of the Attorney General vis à vis the Public Prosecution Service.
September 7, 2018 – Jessica Prince spoke by phone to the Deputy Minister of Justice about the call received from Ben Chin. The Deputy Minister suggested options such as an informal call with the DPP. The memo on the role of the Attorney General is also shared with Elder Marques and Amy Archer in PMO.
September 11, 2018 – Ben Chin and Minister of Justice Political Staff discuss that SNC has been informed they would not receive a deferred prosecution agreement. Chin noted the identity of SNC-Lavalin’s counsel – Frank Iacobucci – and further detailed what they were prepared to agree to.
September 16, 2018 – Jessica Prince receives a phone call from Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques from PMO. They told her that SNC have made further submissions to the Crown and “there is some softening but not much”. They said that they understand that the individual Crown prosecutor wants to negotiate an agreement, but the Director does not. They told her that SNC-Lavalin’s next board meeting is on September 20. They also mention the Quebec election context. Jessica Prince noted that these concerns were bordering on interference in prosecutorial discretion.
September 17, 2018 – SNC-Lavalin writes to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking her to stop the trial.
September 17, 2018 – Deputy Minister of Justice tells Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould that Finance had told her that they want to make sure the DPP understands the impact if they do nothing in this case.
September 17, 2018 –Trudeau and Wernick meet with Wilson-Raybould to discuss the prosecution. The Prime Minister raised the issue immediately, despite the meeting being scheduled on another topic. He asked to help find a solution here for SNC-Lavalin.
September 18, 2018 – After meeting Wernick, SNC Lavalin writes again to the Director of Public Prosecutions, asking her to stop the trial.
September 19, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould met with the Clerk of the Privy Council, as she had undertaken to do in her meeting with the PM. The Clerk brought up job losses and that SNC-Lavalin’s legal counsel is not a shrinking violet, and he referenced the upcoming shareholder meeting.
September 19, 2018 – Jessica Prince has a phone call with Elder Marques and Mathieu Bouchard. They wanted an update because “we don’t have a ton of time” to get a DPA for SNC-Lavalin. They raised the idea of an informal reach out to the DPP. Prince suggests that this probably constitutes political interference.
September 19, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks with Finance Minister Bill Morneau. He stressed the need to save jobs. She told him that the engagements from his office were inappropriate and had to stop. They did not.
September 20, 2018 – Jessica Prince has yet another phone call with Ben Chin and staff from Minister Morneau’s office to discuss SNC-Lavalin.
September 24, 2018 – SNC-Lavalin once again writes to the Director of Public Prosecutions, asking her to stop the trial.
October 10, 2018 – SNC-Lavalin publishes a news release informing Canadians of the Director of Public Prosecutions decision to proceed with the trial. SNC-Lavalin shares fell by 15%.
October 15, 2018 – SNC-Lavalin writes to Trudeau demanding him to stop the trial.
October 18, 2018 – Mathieu Bouchard calls Jessica Prince to ask that the Attorney General seek an external legal opinion on the DPP’s decision to not negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement.
October 19, 2018 – SNC-Lavalin files for judicial review
October 26, 2018 – Jessica Prince speaks to Mathieu Bouchard to communicate that since action had been filed in Federal Court, we must have moved beyond the idea of Attorney General intervention. He replied that he was still interested in an external legal opinion. Jessica Prince noted that this would constitute political interference. Bouchard said that if – 6 months from the election – SNC-Lavalin announced they are moving their headquarters out of Canada, that is bad. He said “we can have the best policy in the world, but we need to be re-elected.”
October 29, 2018 – SNC-Lavalin is in court on their bribery and corruption charges.
November 22, 2018 – Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould meets with Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques for an hour and a half. Bouchard says that there needs to be a solution. Wilson-Raybould says her mind is made up, and the pressure must stop.
December 5, 2018 – Butts meets with Wilson-Raybould at the Chateau Laurier to stop the trial. Butts says that the Director of Public Prosecutions Act was set up by Harper, and that he didn’t like it.
December 6, 2018 – Trudeau writes to SNC-Lavalin referring the matter of their trial to the attention of Wilson-Raybould.
December 18, 2018 – Senior staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, including Telford and Butts, call Jessica Prince, Chief of Staff to Wilson-Raybould, to pressure her to stop the trial. Jessica Prince reports the meeting consisted of “Nothing new, they want external counsel retained…I told them that would be interference. Gerry said ‘there is no solution here that doesn’t involve some interference’”
December 19, 2018 – Wernick has lunch with Trudeau and his senior political staff to continue the unsolicited, coordinated and sustained attempt to stop the trial.
December 19, 2018 – Following instruction from Trudeau, Wernick calls Wilson-Raybould to pressure her to stop the trial and provide “context”, two months after being informed that she will not intervene. The Clerk said, “I think (the Prime Minister) is going to find a way to get it done one way or another” and made a comment that “it is not good for a Prime Minister and his Attorney General to be at loggerheads”.
January 7, 2019 –Trudeau informs Wilson-Raybould that she is being fired as Attorney General. She believes it is linked to her decision on the SNC-Lavalin matter.
January 11, 2019 – Deputy Minister of Justice receives a call from the Clerk of the Privy Council to inform them of the impending shuffle. As part of the conversation, the Clerk tells the DM that one of the first conversations that the new Minister will be expected to have with the PM will be on the SNC-Lavalin file.
January 14, 2019 – Wilson-Raybould is officially fired as Attorney General, and she publishes a five-page open letter, stating her willingness to “speak truth to power”. She is replaced with an Attorney General willing to stop the trial.
February 7, 2019 – Globe and Mail story breaks that there was inappropriate pressure. Trudeau claims the story is false, in his first version of the story.
February 8, 2019 – Conservative Members of the Justice Committee request emergency hearings into this matter.
February 8, 2019 – Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary for Justice claims that no one in the government pressured Wilson-Raybould
February 10, 2019 – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer sends a letter to Trudeau demanding that he waive his Solicitor-Client privilege to allow the former Attorney General to speak.
February 11, 2019 – Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion launches investigation.
February 11, 2019 – In a new version of his story, Trudeau says that Wilson-Raybould’s presence in Cabinet speaks for itself.
February 12, 2019 –Wilson-Raybould resigns from Cabinet.
February 12, 2019 – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer sends a letter to Trudeau demanding the preservation of documents and reminding officials that destroying documents may be a criminal offence.
February 13, 2019 – Trudeau further changes his story for the third time, saying that he is disappointed with Wilson-Raybould and that she should have raised issues directly with him.
February 13, 2019 – Liberals on the Justice Committee vote to block nearly all requested witnesses.
February 15, 2019 –Trudeau changes his story for the fourth time, saying that if Scott Brison hasn’t resigned, Wilson-Raybould would still be Attorney General.
February 18, 2019 –Butts resigns from the Prime Minister’s Office, claiming he did nothing wrong.
February 21, 2019 – In testifying before the Justice Committee, Wernick confirms that he and other senior political officials “pressured” Wilson-Raybould to stop the trial.
February 25, 2019 – 15 days after Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer requests it, Trudeau partially waives solicitor-client privilege.
February 26, 2019 – The Justice Committee invites Wilson-Raybould to appear at committee on February 27 at 3:15 PM.
February 27, 2019 – Ms. Wilson-Raybould appears before the committee
March 4, 2019 – Treasury Board President Jane Philpott resigns from cabinet, citing it would be untenable for her to continue sitting in cabinet. Quoting Dr. Philpott: "Unfortunately, the evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former attorney general to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin, and the evidence as to the content of those efforts, have raised serious concerns for me. Those concerns have been augmented by the views expressed by my constituents and other Canadians." Dr. Philpott will continue to serve as a Liberal MP.
March 6, 2019 – Former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and Deputy Justice Minister Nathalie Drouin appear before the committee.
March 6, 2009 – Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick again appears before the Committee. There he tells committee members that he personally took a call in his office from former Privy Council Clerk and now SNC-Lavalin board member Kevin Lynch.
March 8, 2018 – Conservative and NDP committee members call for an emergency meeting to discuss inviting former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to testify.