The seriousness and severity of what is at stake for our country in the SNC-Lavalin scandal cannot be overstated. The rule of law is our oldest constitutional principle. It is a fundamental pillar of our democracy. And over the last month Canadians have witnessed the Prime Minister corrupt that very rule of law and try in vain to cover it up.
Former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was both unprecedented and disturbing. Her account of events related to the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin included detailed descriptions of 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 Chief of Staff Katie Telford) over a four month-span. According to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, the objective of these efforts was to get her to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
The details are as shocking as they are corrupt. The Prime Minister and his highest-ranking officials waged a sustained and co-ordinated attempt to politically interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. This interference came in the form of bullying and threatening the former Attorney General to put an end to a criminal trial and cut SNC-Lavalin a special deal. When Ms. Wilson-Raybould rendered a final decision not to pursue a special deal and thereby refused to do what the Prime Minister wanted her to do, she was fired.
The testimony Canadians have heard from Wilson-Raybould tells the story of a Prime Minister who has lost the moral authority to govern; a Prime Minister who allows his partisan political motivations to overrule his duty to uphold the rule of law; a Prime Minister who doesn’t know where the Liberal Party ends and where the Government of Canada begins; and a Prime Minister who has allowed a systemic culture of corruption to take root in his office and those of his most senior cabinet and public service colleagues.
Since Wilson-Raybould’s appearance at Committee, both the Prime Minister’s former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick have also appeared. Both Butts and Wernick were able to comment on events after Ms. Wilson-Raybould was fired, something Ms. Wilson-Raybould cannot do, as the Prime Minister is yet to waive attorney-client privilege in order for her to speak freely. We therefore call on the Prime Minister to waive privilege so Ms. Wilson-Raybould can respond to claims made about her by Wernick and Butts, and so Canadians can get the full story.
The Prime Minister has lost two cabinet ministers and his closest political advisor since the SNC-Lavalin affair became public. The House of Commons Justice Committee is investigating. Five former Attorneys General have said the RCMP should consider criminal charges. And now the Anti-Corruption Division of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has just announced it is “closely monitoring” Canada as it relates to the ongoing SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal. This is a shocking development that reaffirms this scandal can no longer credibly be written off as a petty political dispute or a misunderstanding that two parties experienced differently.
Canada’s Conservatives are therefore calling on the Prime Minister to resign. Further, the Hon. Andrew Scheer, Leader of Canada’s Conservatives has written to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, calling for an immediate investigation into the Prime Minister’s actions in relation to the numerous examples of obstruction of justice that was detailed in the testimony. Quoting the Hon. Andrew Scheer, “Canadians cannot have a Prime Minister who is willing to commit a crime to protect his political interests. We need the police to investigate these serious allegations. “
Canada must be a country where we are all equal under the law; where no one, regardless of wealth, status or political connections is above the law. Canada’s Conservatives believe we can be that country again.
Click here for quotes from Jody Wilson-Raybould's committee testimony
Click here for a chronology of events