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Malcolm

All About Justin / The good, the bad and the ugly

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Finally a Liberal speaks out, I wonder how many of his fellow MPs feel the same.

February 11, 2019 10:41 am

Liberal MP Wayne Long calls for investigation into alleged PMO interference in SNC-Lavalin case

By Amanda Connolly National Online Journalist  Global News
 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to reporters in Vaughan, Ont., saying that the allegations in the Globe and Mail's story this morning alleging that the PMO pressured former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to drop the SNC-Lavalin case are "false."

 

Liberal MP Wayne Long is calling for an investigation into bombshell allegations published last week that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his officials pressured the former attorney general to cut a deal to save SNC-Lavalin from criminal prosecution.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account on Monday morning, Long, who represents the New Brunswick riding of Saint John-Rothesay, wrote that the allegations published by the Globe and Mail last week left him “deeply unsettled.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says report his office pressed former justice minister to drop SNC-Lavalin prosecution ‘false’

As a result, he said, “a full and transparent investigation is necessary.”

“Just like the people of Saint John-Rothesay, I also am seeking answers that will clear the air regarding exactly what happened here,” wrote Long, who is not a member of the committee that will be voting on whether to support an opposition motion to investigate this week.

“That’s why I support the opposition’s motion to launch an investigation of these allegations at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.”

The House of Commons justice committee is set to meet on Wednesday to vote on a motion from Conservative and NDP members that asks for senior government officials, including Trudeau’s two closest advisors, be called to testify about the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Liberal members outnumber opposition MPs on the committee and have the numbers to defeat the motion.

It remains unclear whether they will do so.

— More to come … 

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He is making headlines again on the BBC but as normal for all the wrong reasons.

Trudeau government faces ethics probe over SNC-Lavalin fraud case

 

Canada's ethics csar will examine allegations the prime minister's office may have improperly tried to help a firm avoid a criminal trial.

A news report last week alleged that PM Justin Trudeau's office pushed for intervention in the fraud case against engineering group SNC-Lavalin.

Mr Trudeau has denied the Globe and Mail report, which cited unnamed sources.

The firm is facing fraud and corruption charges related to contracts in Libya.

On Monday, Canada's independent Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner confirmed he has launched an examination following a request from two opposition New Democrat MPs.

 

Speaking in Vancouver, the prime minister said he "welcomes" the probe into allegations of improper conduct by government officials.

Last week, the Globe and Mail newspaper alleged that the prime minister's office had pressured former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the case against the Quebec-based engineering giant.

The newspaper reported that she had refused to ask prosecutors to make a deal with the company that would have avoided a trial.

Ms Wilson-Raybould has refused to comment on the story, citing solicitor-client privilege.

Mr Trudeau told journalists on Monday that he has met Ms Wilson-Raybould in recent days and confirmed with her they had a conversation last autumn, during which he told her all decisions related to the case "were hers alone".

SNC-Lavalin has argued it should be allowed to avoid a trial because it has changed following the federal charges and it has "worked tirelessly to achieve excellence in governance and integrity".

The firm is facing allegations that former executives paid bribes to win contracts in Libya under Muammar Gaddafi's regime, which fell in 2011.

It had hoped that it could come to a remediation agreement with prosecutors that would be an alternative to trial. The attorney general must consent to the negotiation of the agreement.

Ms Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the justice portfolio last month and into veteran's affairs, a move widely seen as a demotion.

Federal opposition parties have jumped at the allegations of political interference and are pushing to have some of Mr Trudeau's top aides and a number of Liberal MPs appear before Parliament's justice committee.

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And the swamp gets deeper.

Quote

February 11, 2019 2:48 pm

Updated: February 11, 2019 2:49 pm

Mark Norman’s lawyer accuses Trudeau government of interfering in case

By Staff The Canadian Press
News: Conservatives question Liberals over emails in Norman casex
 

OTTAWA – Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s legal team is pointing to several discussions between the Crown and top government lawyers about “trial strategy” as proof of political interference in his case.

Notes taken by the Crown about those talks with lawyers from the Privy Council Office, the department that supports the prime minister, were filed in court this morning as pre-trial hearings resumed on Norman’s breach-of-trust charge.

READ MORE: As Liberal insider takes the stand, Norman’s lawyers hint at more ‘code names’

Many of the notes were redacted on the basis they dealt with “trial strategy,” Crown prosecutor Barbara Mercier told Norman’s lawyers in an email also filed in court.

Norman’s lawyer, Christine Mainville, told the court that the Crown should not be talking strategy with the Privy Council Office, which she described as the right hand to the Prime Minister’s Office.

WATCH: Canada’s top soldier testifies in Mark Norman case

2019-01-30T22-47-47.533Z--640x360.jpg?w=670&quality=70&strip=all

She says the discussions are more troubling than the allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to intervene in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin.

Crown prosecutors did not immediately respond, but asked Justice Heather Perkins-McVey for time to study the documents.

 

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Quote

THE PRACTICES FOR WHICH SNC-LAVALIN NOW ASKS TO AVOID CHARGES, ON THE GROUNDS THAT IT IS TOO BIG TO FAIL, ARE THE VERY SORTS OF PRACTICES THAT HELPED MAKE IT SO BIG.

Much in L’Affaire Wilson-Raybould worth investigating

  • Calgary Herald
  • 12 Feb 2019
  • Andrew Coyne,
img?regionKey=aa1TFSpXZxPdWEVUhBMYbQ%3d%3dJONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses as he answers questions on a visit to Vancouver on Monday.

It has been four days now since it was reported that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office had pressured the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to have fraud and corruption charges dropped against SNC-Lavalin, the Quebec engineering and construction giant, and we have yet to hear a direct, on-the-record denial of the allegations by either side.

We’ve had Justin Trudeau’s initial, lawyerly statement to the effect that he did not “direct” Wilson-Raybould to do anything — which was not the allegation — and we’ve had Wilson-Raybould’s repeated claim that “solicitor-client privilege” prevented her from commenting — which legal scholars dispute — and now we have the prime minister’s assertion that Wilson-Raybould lately “confirmed” for him a conversation they had last fall “where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone.”

That odd, selective, onesided recounting of what she allegedly said about what he allegedly said that shouldn’t have needed saying in the first place is the closest we’ve got in four days to a straight answer. But while all this line-testing, story-straightening and general dodging about was going on in public, the prime minister’s people were speaking quite freely — off the record.

Why yes, of course there had been “discussions” with Wilson-Raybould about whether to set aside the charges against SNCLavalin, senior government officials confided to reporters, in favour of a newly created process called a “remediation agreement.”

Indeed, they told Canadian Press the government “would have failed in its duty” if it had not had such discussions “given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company and put thousands of Canadians out of work.”

There might have been a “vigorous debate” or even a “robust discussion,” senior government officials acknowledged to the Globe and Mail, but that should not be confused with “an effort to put pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould.” How did she get that idea, then, as multiple sources told the paper four days earlier? Was she confused?

Well, unnamed “insiders” volunteered to CP, she was “difficult to get along with,” and had “always sort of been in it for herself.” But not to worry, a Toronto Star columnist reported: the prime minister “still has confidence” in her, notwithstanding the “damage” she was doing to the government “by allowing the speculation about alleged corruption to hang out there.” Beautiful. The PM’s spin doctors have managed to turn a story about their own alleged attempts to interfere in the prosecution of a Liberal-friendly firm (from 1993 to 2003 SNC-Lavalin contributed over a half a million dollars to the party, Elections Canada records show, plus another hundred thousand and change in illegal donations, as the company has acknowledged, in 2004-2011) into a story about whether a “difficult” minister was harming the government with her silence. Very well. Let’s take the government’s emerging defence on its merits. Is this all perfectly normal? Is it quite all right, first, for a government to want to spare a corporation from criminal charges because it might go out of business? Let’s be clear: this would not be an issue if the corporation employed nine people, rather than nine thousand. The argument — the official story, that is, never mind questions of political connections or how it would all play in Quebec — is that SNC-Lavalin deserves preferential treatment because it is so big: because of the “thousands of jobs” that would allegedly be lost if it were to be submitted to the ordinary processes of law. As an argument for two-tiered justice, this at least has the virtue of being frank.

The company claims it should be spared prosecution because it has changed personnel and overhauled its corporate culture since the days when it was notorious for bribing public officials to win contracts, around the world and in Canada.

But it’s surely worth noting that it was under the bad old corporate culture that the company grew into the colossus it is today. The practices for which it now asks to avoid charges, on the grounds that it is too big to fail, are the very sorts of practices that helped make it so big. Is there a more literal application of the old joke about the kid who kills his parents, then asks for leniency on the grounds that he’s an orphan? I don’t want to be too firm on this point. Maybe there’s a case for remediation agreements of this kind, in principle — after all, the United States and Britain have them. But there’s a context here that can’t be ignored. The only reason the provision is on the books in Canada is because of a concerted public relations campaign on the part of SNCLavalin. Charged with fraud and corruption in 2015, the company reacted, not in the usual way, by fighting it in court or bargaining with prosecutors, but by lobbying politicians and their staff.

And it worked: the government custom-drafted the legislation to the designs of a company that was at that moment facing criminal charges, then smuggled it into law via the 2018 omnibus budget bill, of all things. And, when the director of public prosecutions, as is her right, declined to make use of the new provision, preferring to proceed in the old-fashioned way, the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly leaned on the attorney general to overrule her.

To be sure, there is nothing illegal or unethical for the attorney general, as a government background document notes, “to consult with cabinet colleagues before exercising his or her powers.” But that is not what is alleged. Whether or not the line was crossed into “pressure,” the alleged conversation was not with her fellow ministers — her equals — but with political staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, the most powerful people in the country. Next to the prime minister, of course.

That at any rate is the allegation. It has still not been properly denied. It would seem worth investigating why.

THE ALLEGED CONVERSATION WAS WITH PMO, NOT MINISTERS.

 

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Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs calls out 'racist and sexist' treatment of Wilson-Raybould

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is calling on the prime minister to quash what they view as “racist and sexist innuendo” dogging Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Chiefs say recent anonymous comments perpetuate 'stereotypes that Indigenous women cannot be powerful'

CBC News · Posted: Feb 12, 2019 10:44 AM ET | Last Updated: 42 minutes ago
 
snc-lavalin-trudeau-20190207.jpg
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jodie Wilson-Raybould, new veterans affairs minister, attend a swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Jan. 14. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

A group of First Nation leaders is calling on the prime minister to quash what they view as  "racist and sexist innuendo" dogging Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould

The former justice minister is at the centre of recent claims that the Prime Minister's Office pressured her to help Quebec -based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

Over the weekend, The Canadian Press ran a story quoting anonymous sources who described Wilson-Raybould as someone who had "become a thorn in the side of the cabinet" before she was shuffled to her new role last month. She was also called "someone ... [who] was difficult to get along with, known to berate fellow cabinet ministers openly at the table, and who others felt they had trouble trusting."

A source, described as an "insider who didn't want to be identified," told the news agency that Wilson-Raybould has "always sort of been in it for herself" and "everything is very Jody-centric."



Those comments are "cowardly low blows," says a statement released Tuesday by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

"They perpetuate colonial-era, sexist stereotypes that Indigenous women cannot be powerful, forthright and steadfast in positions of power, but rather confrontational, meddling and egotistic," says the news release from the group, which has been critical of the Liberal government in the past on pipeline issues. 

"These comments from your staff must be recognized for what they are — blatant sexism."

Investigation launched 

 

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes also leapt to her caucus colleague's defence online, tweeting Sunday that Wilson-Raybould is "fierce, smart, and unapologetic."

"When women speak up and out, they are always going to be labelled. Go ahead. Label away. We are not going anywhere," she wrote.

"It has been reported by insiders of your government that she was someone 'who others felt they had trouble trusting' and has reportedly 'been in it for herself' such that "everything is very Jody-centric."

The B.C. group — headed by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip —  urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "to take responsibility for your behaviour and that of your government," and called into question his commitment to the Crown-Indigenous relationship.

"If you do not condemn these harmful statements and apologize ... you not only reaffirm a colonial belief system that Indigenous women are inferior and disposable, but the hypocrisy of your professed feminism and 'most important relationship' with Indigenous people will be laid bare for all Canadians to see," the group's release concludes.

On Monday, federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion launched an investigation into allegations the PMO wanted Wilson-Raybould to direct federal prosecutors to make a "deferred prosecution agreement" (DPA) — a deal akin to a plea bargain — to avoid taking SNC-Lavalin to trial on bribery and fraud charges.

Dion informed the NDP MPs who requested the investigation that there is sufficient cause to proceed with an inquiry.

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Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet in wake of SNC-Lavalin allegations

Jody Wilson-Raybould — the former justice minister who has kept largely silent since a news report claimed the Prime Minister's Office pressured her to help Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution — has resigned from cabinet.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed Monday that he had 'full confidence' in Wilson-Raybould

Catharine Tunney · CBC News · Posted: Feb 12, 2019 11:39 AM ET | Last Updated: 8 minutes ago
 
coerced-sterilization-indigenous-2018120
Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Attorney General of Canada, has resigned from cabinet. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
104 comments

Jody Wilson-Raybould — the former justice minister who has kept largely silent since a news report claimed the Prime Minister's Office pressured her to help Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution — has resigned from cabinet.

She tweeted a link to her resignation letter this morning.

"With a heavy heart I am writing to tender my resignation as the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence," she wrote.

"When I sought federal elected office, it was with the goal of implementing a positive and progressive vision of change on behalf of all Canadians and a different way of doing poltics."

Wilson-Raybould, who was shuffled to the Veterans Affairs portfolio in January, has been under intense scrutiny since a Globe and Mail report alleged last week that the PMO wanted her to direct federal prosecutors to make a "deferred prosecution agreement" (DPA) to avoid taking SNC-Lavalin to trial on bribery and fraud charges in relation to contracts in Libya.

Wilson-Raybould, who plans to stay on as MP for Vancouver-Granville, has been quiet since the story broke, saying she can't comment because she's bound by solicitor-client privilege.

In her resignation letter, she said she has retained the services of lawyer Thomas Cromwell, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, to advise her on "topics that I am legally permitted to discuss on this matter."

In an email to CBC News, Cromwell said he would not be making any statements or doing any interviews.

A spokesperson for MP Francis Scarpaleggia, chair of the national Liberal caucus, said that as of Tuesday morning, Wilson-Raybould hadn't left caucus.

Ethics investigation launched

Her resignation marks a significant turning point in the emerging SNC-Lavalin affair.

Just a day earlier, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau told reporters he continues "to have full confidence in Jody."

He also insisted that he did not direct Wilson-Raybould to come to any specific conclusions on whether to direct the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to reach an agreement with SNC-Lavalin.

"She confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall, where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone," Trudeau said Monday.

"I respect her view that, due to privilege, she can't comment or add on matters recently before the media. I also highlight that we're bound by cabinet confidentiality. In our system of governance, her presence in cabinet should speak for itself."

Wilson-Raybould's resignation likely will cast a shadow over the upcoming election campaign. So will a recently-launched probe by the federal ethics commissioner.

On Monday, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion informed the NDP MPs who had requested an investigation that there is sufficient cause to proceed with an inquiry into Trudeau's actions in the case.

Responding to a letter from NDP MPs, Dion said he would investigate the prime minister personally for a possible contravention of Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, which prohibits any official responsible for high-level decision-making in government from seeking to influence the decision of another person so as to "improperly further another person's private interests."

SNC-Lavalin faces charges of fraud and corruption in connection with nearly $48 million in payments made to Libyan government officials between 2001 and 2011.

The company has pleaded not guilty. 

If convicted, the company could be blocked from competing for federal government contracts for a decade.

The case is still at the preliminary hearing stage.

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1 hour ago, Malcolm said:

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs calls out 'racist and sexist' treatment of Wilson-Raybould

They are missing the point entirely.

Hats off to her... hopefully the truth will prevail despite Liberal efforts to the contrary.... hideous and loathsome creatures all. Can't believe I ever supported them. Excuse me, I need a shower, or maybe a colon cleansing procedure is due. I have read of such things and now see the value of them.

Edited by Wolfhunter

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Prosecution service rejects accusation of political interference over meetings with government lawyers in Norman case

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada says its meetings with government lawyers were not a case of the Prime Minister's Office trying to exert political influence

Mark-Norman-1-1.png?w=780Suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and one of his lawyers, Christine Mainville, outside court in November 2018.Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press/File

 

OTTAWA — The federal prosecution service is fighting back against allegations of political interference raised in court by Vice Admiral Mark Norman’s lawyers on Monday.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada says its meetings with government lawyers were necessary to identify potential witnesses for the trial — and not a case of the Prime Minister’s Office trying to exert political influence, as Norman’s lawyer Christine Mainville alleged.

“In the process of preparing for trial, the PPSC was looking to identify potential witnesses who could explain issues of cabinet confidence, as it is applied by the Clerk of the Privy Council,” the statement said. “The PPSC will be producing an unredacted version of the notes on Friday to the judge. The PPSC has not sought or received instructions in respect of the prosecution of Mr. Norman from the Privy Council Office or any other government department or body.”

The statement said the principle of prosecutorial independence is key to the PPSC’s mandate.

“PPSC prosecutors are expected to be objective, independent, and dispassionate in the exercise of their duties, and to exercise those duties in a manner free from any improper influence, including political influence,” it said.The prosecution service’s director, Kathleen Roussel, said in the statement that she is “confident that our prosecutors, in this and every other case, exercise their discretion independently and free from any political or partisan consideration.”

Norman faces one criminal charge of breach of trust for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets, an allegation he has denied. The court has been hearing a pre-trial motion on the defence’s access to a trove of government documents.

Mainville had raised concerns over redacted notes from meetings between prosecutors and lawyers from the Privy Council Office, the bureaucracy that supports the Prime Minister and the federal cabinet.

Some of the notes were redacted under litigation privilege, and lead prosecutor Barbara Mercier told Mainville that the redactions were necessary because the discussions concerned “trial strategy.”

“We maintain that discussions about how to run the trial are protected by litigation privilege,” Mercier wrote in email to Mainville.

This led Mainville to call on the judge to vet the redactions and determine whether they should be fully disclosed. She also alleged that the discussions appear to have been inappropriate government interference in the case, describing the Privy Council Office as the “right arm” of the Prime Minister’s Office, given the Privy Council reports to the Prime Minister.

Mainville alluded to a separate, ongoing controversy of political interference in the criminal justice system. The Globe and Mail reported last week that the Prime Minister’s Office put pressure on then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to direct prosecutors to drop corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin in favour of a remediated agreement. Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is investigating the case; earlier on Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet.

“In my respectful submission…the position the Crown is taking is more concerning, I would say, than the allegations relating to SNC-Lavalin,” Mainville said. “The Prime Minister’s Office, by way of its right arm, the PCO, is dealing directly with the (prosecution service), and the prosecution service apparently is allowing this to happen.”

That prompted an interjection from Justice Heather Perkins McVey. “So much for the independence of the PPSC,” she said.

Perkins-McVey will receive the unredacted notes as a sealed exhibit on Friday, when the Crown is expected to fully respond to the defence’s accusations. The judge had invited the Crown to respond on Monday, but the prosecutors said they needed more time — in part because Mercier was travelling out of province on another matter.

A redacted version of the 20 pages of notes — which cover at least eight meetings between between May 2017 and September 2018 — was filed as an open exhibit on Monday. Whole pages are redacted under litigation privilege, with one span of four pages being entirely redacted.

In an email exchange filed in court, Mainville had pointed out to Mercier that if the Privy Council lawyers are potential trial witnesses, their notes should be disclosed. “Litigation privilege clearly does not apply to witnesses and certainly does not apply to communications between the prosecution and a witness,” Mainville said.

“As I recall, the portions of the attached documents which have been redacted deal with trial strategy, not witness preparation or discussion about their evidence,” Mercier responded to Mainville.

A senior government source, speaking on condition of confidentiality in order to discuss the matter, told the National Post on Monday that the defence’s description of the Privy Council lawyers acting as the “right arm” of the PMO was wrong. The source said it is normal for prosecutors to meet with Privy Council lawyers in a case involving cabinet leaks.

It is the nature of those discussions, however, which are key to the defence.

“We have not suggested that the mere fact of meeting is an issue,” Mainville told reporters on Monday. “But the claim of litigation privilege in respect of those meetings would be a problem, because that privilege is intended for devising trial strategy. It’s intended to protect the adversarial process, and frankly the Privy Council Office or the Prime Minister’s Office should not be an adversary to Vice-Admiral Norman in this case, and certainly not in conjunction with the prosecution service.”

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2 hours ago, Wolfhunter said:

They are missing the point entirely.

Hats off to her... hopefully the truth will prevail despite Liberal efforts to the contrary.... hideous and loathsome creatures all. Can't believe I ever supported them. Excuse me, I need a shower, or maybe a colon cleansing procedure is due. I have read of such things and now see the value of them.

 

666B8FF8-7196-4293-B4A3-4399E0B1A4BF.jpeg

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John Ivison: Just another day at the office for a government that looks increasingly grubby

It is incontrovertible that Trudeau gave Wilson-Raybould the hook after she refused to do his bidding. Instead of doing politics differently, he has proven to be as vindictive

snc_lavalin_20190212-e1550004936671.jpg?Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-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.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
 

In the words of parody news anchor Ron Burgundy: “Boy, that escalated quickly.”

Jody Wilson-Raybould’s letter resigning from cabinet Tuesday — in which she thanked all Canadians but, conspicuously, not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — has left the impression that we have a caricature of a government, as buffoonish and clueless as Burgundy and his news team.

Trudeau, a self-proclaimed feminist, appears to have been mansplaining when he said Wilson-Raybould’s presence in cabinet “should speak for itself.” A matter of hours later, the former justice minister tendered her resignation, which really does speak for itself. She obviously did not agree with Trudeau’s characterization of events Monday, when he said Wilson-Raybould had confirmed to him that in their conversation about SNC-Lavalin in the fall, the prime minister had told her any decision involving the director of public prosecutions was hers alone. Did Trudeau let Wilson-Raybould in on how he was going to characterize that conversation? Apparently not.

Events are rapidly spinning out of control and Trudeau looks like a prime minister who acts impetuously and fails to think through the consequences of his actions.

She obviously did not agree with Trudeau's characterization of events Monday

The Liberals clearly felt they had contained the fallout from the allegations, first reported Thursday by the Globe and Mail, that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

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David Lametti, Wilson-Raybould’s successor as attorney general and justice minister, told the Canadian Bar Association Monday that, while he sits at a certain distance from his cabinet colleagues, he does not sit in isolation. “But there is a line that cannot be crossed. Telling the Attorney-General what a decision ought to be: that would be interference.”

Lametti believes the government in which he sits was on the right side of that line.Trudeau’s assertion that he had told Wilson-Raybould it was her decision whether to take over the SNC case from the director of public prosecutions and negotiate a remediation deal that would essentially let the Quebec engineering company off the hook suggests something short of “interference” applies here.

Prior to Wilson-Raybould’s bombshell resignation, it was a safe bet no one would be able to prove anyone in the PMO crossed the line Lametti described.

There must have been high hopes that Wilson-Raybould would stick to the script.

After all, she had accepted another cabinet post, even while apparently being demoted for not doing her boss’s bidding on SNC.

But in her resignation letter she said she has retained retired Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell as counsel, seeking guidance on what she can say publicly. This affair might have been starved of oxygen without fresh information but not now.

The blame for this turn of events may lie with whomever whispered in the ear of a reporter from The Canadian Press at the weekend that Wilson-Raybould was known to be “in it for herself” and “very Jody-centric.”

You don’t resign from cabinet, with its $82,000 salary top-up and chauffeur-driven car, unless you are seriously aggrieved.

It is a valid question why she wasn’t disturbed enough to refuse the position of veterans affairs minister when it was offered in the first place.

But now she’s out of cabinet, and potentially out of the Liberal caucus (she said Tuesday she will continue to sit as the MP for Vancouver-Granville). She remains bound by solicitor-client privilege but the pressure on Trudeau to waive it will be irresistible.

Jody Wilson-Raybould attends a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

In what is turning out to be an annus horribilis for the Liberals, a local difficulty has just become an existential crisis.

Ironically, Trudeau’s salvation may be processes already in place: the justice committee and the investigation by the ethics commissioner (if it can be expedited before the election in October).

Mario Dion has said he will scrutinize the SNC-Lavalin affair to see if any public office holder contravened section nine of the Conflict of Interest Act, by using his or her position to influence the decision of another person to further the private interests of a third party.

Dion told the CBC recently he hates it when his office is described as a “lapdog.” He said he would rather be criticized for being too tough than too lenient. He is only one year into a seven-year term. It may be that if he finds evidence of wrongdoing, the incentive will be to crack down hard to help the miscreants out the door, rather than be cowed for fear of repercussions.

But on the evidence available (which is scant to be sure) it is hard to see a scenario where laws have been broken.

If Dion judges Trudeau to have lied about the conversation with Wilson-Raybould in the fall, or if someone in the PMO is deemed to have breached section nine of the act, then the government will have been found guilty of that most egregious of administrative sins — the bungled cover-up.

Impetuous and short-sighted as Trudeau is, this seems unlikely. Sources outside the Prime Minister’s Office say Wilson-Raybould was asked by PMO to take over the SNC file from the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, on the grounds that a successful conviction of SNC could block it from bidding for federal contracts for 10 years and result in thousands of job losses in politically-sensitive Quebec.

Yet she refused. So while there were discussions, likely heated discussions, there does not appear to have been “interference.” SNC has appealed Roussel’s decision not to negotiate a remediation deal and the case is currently before the courts.

But the political damage to Trudeau is not confined to whether or not he broke the law, or even levied undue influence.

It is incontrovertible that he gave Wilson-Raybould the hook after she refused to do his bidding, thus proving himself indistinguishable from all the grubby leaders that went before him.

On the sunny day in June that he announced the 2015 election would be the last held under the first-past-the-post system if the Liberals formed government, he accused Stephen Harper of having turned Ottawa into a “partisan swamp.”

“Promoting partisan interests at the expense of the public trust” had added to the cynicism choking the political system, he said.

“For Stephen Harper, it’s just another day at the office,” he said.

Yet instead of doing politics differently, Trudeau has proven to be as hypocritical and vindictive.

For a feminist who says his most important relationship is with First Nations, demoting the first Indigenous woman to be named justice minister for exercising the independence of her office turned out to be just another day at the office.

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So far in what could be "He said, she said" only he has spoken his piece, it will indeed be interesting when / if she responds in kind.

February 12, 2019 5:13 pm

Updated: February 12, 2019 5:25 pm

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation, says she raised no concerns on SNC-Lavalin

885953_10100819094660435_358176328172448 By Rahul Kalvapalle National Online Journalist  Global News
News: Trudeau says he is 'surprised and disappointed' by Jody Wilson-Raybould's decision to step downx
 

WATCH: Trudeau says he is 'surprised and disappointed' by Jody Wilson-Raybould's decision to step down

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s “surprised and disappointed” by Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould’s decision to resign from cabinet amid allegations that Trudeau’s office pressured her to avoid prosecuting Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin during her stint as attorney-general.

Wilson-Raybould stepped down from cabinet Tuesday, less than a month after she was named minister of veterans affairs in a cabinet shuffle.

“Frankly, I am both surprised and disappointed by her decision to step down,” Trudeau told reporters in Winnipeg.

“This resignation is not consistent with conversations I had with Jody a few weeks ago when I asked her to serve as Canada’s minister of veterans affairs… nor is it consistent with the conversations we’ve had lately.”

READ MORE: Charges against SNC-Lavalin explained — and how the PMO allegedly got involved

Trudeau also denied any irregularities in the government’s involvement in the SNC-Lavalin case, and said Wilson-Raybould should’ve spoken up if she had concerns.

“The Government of Canada did its job and to the clear public standards expected of it,” he said. “If anyone felt differently, they had an obligation to raise that with me. No one — including Jody — did that.”

WATCH: Scheer slams Trudeau over Wilson-Raybould’s resignation, asks Trudeau to preserve SNC-Lavalin documents

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Wilson-Raybould has announced that she has retained legal counsel to determine what she can and cannot say about the SNC-Lavalin affair, given the considerations of solicitor-client privilege.

But Trudeau said concerns over solicitor-client privilege should have had no bearings on Wilson-Raybould’s willingness to raise any concerns with the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Our government did its job properly and according to all the rules,” he said. “If someone felt that we did not — someone within the government, a minister or particularly the attorney-general — then it was her responsibility to come directly to me and highlight that. And that is not an issue that involves attorney-client privilege.

“She of course should be coming to me and explaining that, and she did not.”

WATCH: Trudeau says he is committed to indigenous issues, says he is ‘puzzled’ be Wilson-Raybould’s resignation

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Wilson-Raybould’s resignation came following a bombshell report by the Globe and Mail last week which alleged senior officials with the PMO pressured her to urge prosecutors to cut a deal to protect SNC-Lavalin from going to trial over corruption and fraud charges.

It also came less than 24 hours after Trudeau expressed “full confidence” in her and suggested she would have resigned from cabinet on principle if she felt anyone had tried to improperly pressure her.

READ MORE: Darkening sunny ways? Wilson-Raybould resignation could hurt Trudeau Liberals in federal election, experts say

Trudeau declined to say whether he would be willing to testify before the House of Commons justice committee if it launches a probe into whether his office tried to influence Wilson-Raybould.

Anthony Housefather, the Liberal chair of the committee, said Tuesday that he is open to a probe. Liberals hold a majority on the committee and have the power to decide whether the probe gets the green light.

“It is a well-established principle in our democracy that committees of parliament are independent in the decisions they make, and I look forward to the deliberations that parliamentarians will make about how to proceed on this,” Trudeau said.

WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s father slams Trudeau over cabinet shuffle

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Asked what Wilson-Raybould’s resignation meant for Indigenous representation on his cabinet, Trudeau said that his government’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation “is larger than any one person.”

Wilson-Raybould had been Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister and the face of Trudeau’s commitment to make reconciliation his top priority.

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Liberal MPs on justice committee under spotlight as opposition demands probe of SNC-Lavalin affair

 
‎Today, ‎February ‎12, ‎2019, ‏‎15 minutes ago | Brian Platt

OTTAWA — Parliament is on a break week, the House of Commons is quiet and a massive snowstorm has brought Ottawa to a standstill. But just across Wellington Street from Parliament Hill, a government committee building will see an intense political showdown on Wednesday as the Liberals battle the biggest crisis of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tenure so far.

The Commons justice committee is set to debate an opposition motion to investigate whether the Prime Minister’s Office tried to pressure then Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a corruption case against Quebec construction giant SNC-Lavalin. It appears increasingly likely some kind of committee investigation will happen, but the scope of it remains unclear.

“I am at this point fairly heavily leaning in favour that the committee should do a study,” said Anthony Housefather, the Liberal chair of the committee, in an interview Tuesday evening. “As I’ve said from the beginning, a partisan committee is a flawed body to do this type of work, but I have yet to be presented with a better option, and I think Canadians want clarity.”

The stakes were raised on Tuesday when Wilson-Raybould announced her resignation as veterans affairs minister. Just a day earlier, Trudeau had said her presence in his cabinet shows she still supports the government. “Her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself,” Trudeau told reporters. Later that night, Wilson-Raybould told Trudeau she was resigning.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is examining the allegations to see if the Conflict of Interest Act was breached, but it will likely be many months before a public report is produced.

The justice committee represents the best chance to get quick answers on what happened.

An opposition motion, put forward by the Conservatives and the NDP, would have the committee hold “no fewer than four meetings” to study the events and report back by Feb. 28.

The motion — which could still change in its wording — calls for Wilson-Raybould and other senior officials to testify, including David Lametti, the current attorney general; Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council; Kathleen Roussel, the head of the federal prosecution service; Jessica Prince, Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff; and a group of senior aides in the Prime Minister’s Office including Katie Telford, Gerald Butts, Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques. The opposition may ask for Trudeau himself to be added to that list.

The question now is how the Liberals will vote.

Having won a majority government in the last election, the Liberals have a majority on parliamentary committees. In the case of the justice committee, there are five Liberal votes, three Conservative votes and one NDP vote. The chair of the committee, who votes in the case of a tie, is also a Liberal.

Housefather said he personally doubts the allegation of undue pressure being put on Wilson-Raybould, which is partly why he wants a committee study to clear the air.

Liberal MPs have been debating how to proceed. Aside from voting yes or no, they could also vote to amend the motion before passing it, or come up with their own motion. Their majority means they can’t be stopped if they vote as a bloc.

Asked if this would be a whipped vote — meaning directed by the Liberal leadership — Housefather said it should be obvious that won’t be the case, given his own stand.

“As far as I know, there’s been no pressure put on anybody and it’s not a whipped vote,” he said.

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Anthony Housefather, Liberal chair of the House of Commons Justice committee: “A partisan committee is a flawed body to do this type of work, but I have yet to be presented with a better option.”

The snowstorm that moved into Ottawa on Tuesday night will play a role in the debate, as some members of the committee may not be able to fly in, meaning a fellow caucus member will take their place. That could be the case for the NDP’s Murray Rankin, who was still in Victoria, B.C., when the National Post reached him on Tuesday.

He said Wilson-Raybould’s resignation increased the chance that some kind of committee investigation takes place.

“It’s an enormously important day in Canadian politics when a former attorney general resigns,” Rankin said. “When we have an issue that might involve the fundamentals of our democracy, it’s appropriate that the justice committee would weigh in on that.

“To me, if it breaks down on party lines tomorrow, as a Canadian, I will be very upset,” he said.

National Post, with files from Maura Forrest

 

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I never considered Veterans Affairs to be a "move down", or a punishment, or a demotion, or some horrid portfolio only appropriate for the dregs of cabinet or that ministers of the crown would consider it an insult to serve there much less "a kick in the teeth". Now, what would this guy have to say if I suggested the same was true for Indian Affairs?

https://globalnews.ca/news/4954339/jody-wilson-raybould-father-snc-lavalin-controversy/

Edited by Wolfhunter

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PM BATTLES BACK AFTER SUDDEN RESIGNATION

Says ‘no one’ raised concerns in Lavalin case

  • Calgary Herald
  • 13 Feb 2019
  • MAURA FORREST
img?regionKey=mMiETzAj29EfHVNrwt7HQw%3d%3dCHRISTINNE MUSCHI / REUTERS Jody Wilson-Raybould has not commented on the SNC-Lavalin situation, citing solicitor-client privilege.

• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went on the offensive Tuesday evening after former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s sudden resignation from cabinet.

In his strongest statement to date, Trudeau repeatedly said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Wilson-Raybould’s decision, which came amid allegations she was pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office to help construction giant SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

Trudeau claimed her resignation was “not consistent” with conversations they had recently.

“In regards to the matter of SNC-Lavalin, let me be direct,” he told reporters in Winnipeg. “The government of Canada did its job and to the clear public standards expected of it. If anyone felt differently, they had an obligation to raise that with me. No one, including Jody, did that.”

It was a marked change in tone for Trudeau, who just one day earlier had painted a rosy picture of his relationship with Wilson-Raybould, suggesting her presence at the cabinet table was proof all was well. She resigned from cabinet hours later.

Following the resignation of Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister, several Indigenous groups, including the Assembly of First Nations, raised concerns about Wilson-Raybould’s departure from the cabinet of a government that has touted its commitment to reconciliation.

“When I sought federal elected office, it was with the goal of implementing a positive and progressive vision of change on behalf of all Canadians and a different way of doing politics,” she wrote in her resignation letter, dated Feb. 12 and published Tuesday morning on her website.

“My resignation as a minister of the Crown in no way changes my commitment to seeing that fundamental change achieved.”

“This work must and will carry on,” Wilson-Raybould added. “Regardless of background, geography or party affiliation, we must stand together for the values that Canada is built on.”

The letter did not explain why she was stepping down. Wilson-Raybould, who represents a Vancouver riding, accepted the position of veterans affairs minister last month after being shuffled out of the justice portfolio, a move widely seen as a demotion.

Her departure from cabinet follows a Globe and Mail report last Thursday citing unnamed sources who said the PMO pushed Wilson-Raybould to direct federal prosecutors to negotiate a deal with SNC-Lavalin, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, that would have led to a fine instead of a criminal trial, but she refused.

The Quebec company was charged in 2015 with bribing Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011 in exchange for construction contracts. The Post has not independently confirmed the allegations of political interference.

Trudeau said he accepted Wilson-Raybould’s resignation Monday night.

Earlier on Monday, Trudeau had told reporters in Vancouver that he had “full confidence in Jody” and had met with her twice since landing in the city on Sunday. “In our system of government, of course, her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself,” he said. He also claimed she’d reminded him of a meeting they’d had last fall, in which he’d apparently assured her that decisions involving federal prosecutions were hers alone.

Trudeau has said the allegations in the Globe and Mail story are false.

Wilson-Raybould has said little about the issue, citing solicitor-client privilege. In her resignation letter, she said she was consulting former Supreme Court justice Thomas Albert Cromwell to obtain “advice on the topics that I am legally permitted to discuss in this matter.”

In Fredericton, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer renewed his call on Tuesday for the prime minister to waive his privilege and allow Wilson-Raybould to speak freely.

“Justin Trudeau’s ethical lapses and his handling of this latest scandal have thrown his government into chaos,” Scheer said. “The longer he refuses to do this, the more guilty he appears to Canadians.

“Justin Trudeau is trying to hide the truth,” he said, adding, “Yesterday, he said that her presence (in cabinet) speaks for itself. Well, today, her resignation speaks for itself.”

Scheer also demanded that the government retain all documents “relating to the ongoing SNC-Lavalin affair.”

Trudeau said he has asked current Attorney General David Lametti to advise him on solicitor-client privilege, but told reporters “there’s a real danger that has been flagged for me of unintended consequences” if he were to waive his privilege, because of SNC-Lavalin’s ongoing court cases.

On Tuesday, several Indigenous leaders voiced their support for Wilson-Raybould and raised concerns about her resignation, including Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

“Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s appointment as minister of justice and attorney general was celebrated by many First Nations people as a tremendous accomplishment and testament to her expertise, experience and intellect,” Bellegarde said in a statement. “I am concerned about the many unanswered questions about Jody Wilson-Raybould’s departure and this is echoed by many First Nations across the country.”

Trudeau said his government will continue to take direction from Indigenous Canadians. “Our government’s commitment to reconciliation is larger than any one person, and we will continue to work closely with In- digenous partners as we walk this path together,” he said.

Before Wilson-Raybould’s resignation was made public, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs published an open letter to Trudeau criticizing recent media reports that paint the former attorney general as being difficult to get along with, self-centred and untrustworthy, based on accounts from unnamed Liberal insiders.

These statements “perpetuate colonial-era, sexist stereotypes that Indigenous women cannot be powerful, forthright, and steadfast in positions of power, but rather confrontational, meddling and egotistic,” the organization said in a statement. If Trudeau does not apologize to Wilson-Raybould, the letter says, “the hypocrisy of (his) professed feminism and ‘most important relationship’ with Indigenous people will be laid bare for all Canadians to see.”

On Monday, ethics commissioner Mario Dion confirmed he had launched an investigation of the matter, based on a possible violation of the Conflict of Interest Act.

Wayne Long, a New Brunswick Liberal MP who broke ranks this week and supported the Conservative and NDP calls for an investigation, doubled down Tuesday in a video message from Florida, where he’s on vacation.

“I’m going to be your representative in Ottawa, not Ottawa’s representative in the riding,” he told his constituents. “I’m going to stand up, I’m going to say what I think, and I’m always going to do what’s right.”

The Liberals introduced deferred prosecution agreements in the last budget bill, but in October, the director of the public prosecution service told SNC-Lavalin it would be inappropriate to negotiate such an agreement in this case.

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There is always lots of comments re Cultural Differences when talking about Immigration but few comment on real cultural differences that exist within Canada. 

 

Here’s what Quebec’s francophone pundits are saying about Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin

 
‎Today, ‎February ‎13, ‎2019, ‏‎13 minutes ago | Marie-Danielle Smith

OTTAWA — In the ongoing debate over the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and what kind of “pressure” was put on ex-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to prevent it, the pundit classes of Quebec and the rest of Canada are singing different songs.

Since the Globe and Mail published a report last week alleging the Prime Minister’s Office pushed Wilson-Raybould to help the company avoid prosecution, a chorus of voices in Quebec has sought to defend the Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, its importance to the provincial and national economy and the appropriateness of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s desire to save some 8,600 Canadian jobs.

The opinion pages and panels of talking heads in English-Canadian media have largely focused on the question of whether a refusal to bow to undue “pressure” from Trudeau’s office led to Wilson-Raybould’s demotion to the veterans affairs file last month and ultimately her resignation on Tuesday.

In Quebec, par contre, the commentariat is more critical of Wilson-Raybould. They are more concerned about why the then-justice minister wouldn’t push the Director of Public Prosecutions to allow SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement — a way for the firm to make amends for corruption charges incurred doing business in Libya without risking a long-term freeze on its ability to take public contracts. Liberals had inserted provisions for that kind of arrangement in the 2018 federal budget. Why then wouldn’t the provision be used, Quebec columnists wonder?

Here’s some of what they’ve been telling their readers and listeners.

The PMO may have done the right thing, Yves Boisvert argued in La Presse in the wake of the Globe’s report last week, saying a deferred prosecution agreement makes sense in this case. The same day came a take from L’actualité’s Alec Castonguay that it’s possible Wilson-Raybould wasn’t a “heroine standing up to power,” and that Trudeau seemed to be advocating for something sensible.

Gérard Fillion argued in a Monday analysis for Radio-Canada (CBC’s French-language counterpart) that SNC-Lavalin is under siege, and in danger. The real question, he wrote, is why the government, why Wilson-Raybould, wouldn’t use the tools Liberals had just put into place. Likewise Le Devoir’s Denis Saint-Martin said the absence of “pressure” by the PMO would’ve been more surprising than this so-called scandal, given SNC-Lavalin’s economic heft.

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Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks with the media following caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday June 6, 2017.

The next day, on Radio-Canada’s news program Le télé journal, an expert on public and private governance, Michel Nadeau, defended the prime minister. “He told Quebecers, ‘Look, with SNC-Lavalin, I did what I had to do,'” Nadeau said in French, paraphrasing Trudeau. “‘And those who had something to say about it could have raised their hands, or come to me. But Wilson-Raybould didn’t present herself.'” The real mystery, he said, was why bureaucrats would obstruct an agreement for SNC-Lavalin when the same is done for multinational companies across the world, and in light of the company’s role in “building modern Quebec.”

On Tuesday Michel Girard, for the Journal de Montreal, added his voice to the mix to declare “mortal consequences” if SNC-Lavalin is prosecuted and convicted. Opposition leaders, he wrote, should be asked why they won’t support SNC-Lavalin like Quebec Premier François Legault does — a pertinent question for Quebecers in a federal election year.

On his TVA Nouvelles program Monday, television personality and former provincial party leader Mario Dumont said no one is denying the company engaged in corruption. But he offered an explanation of the issue that outlined how SNC-Lavalin, under a deferred prosecution agreement, would still have to pay significant fines, and how similar agreements have been used in other countries including the United Kingdom and United States. In a column for the Journal Wednesday, he further argued that Trudeau’s actions to help secure such a thing were “serious and responsible,” what one would expect of a head of government. The only error, he said, was that Trudeau had done all this in secret.

Franco-Quebec coverage of the situation hasn’t been without its skeptics. For La Presse, François Cardinal wondered Wednesday why so many commentators had made their beds on the issue before having all the facts, and urged that Wilson-Raybould should be allowed to say her piece. Another La Presse columnist, Patrick Lagacé, noted that SNC-Lavalin created this mess in the first place by engaging in corrupt activities. “I must have slumbered in a deep hibernation to have missed the moment when we collectively decided that corruption and collusion on a grand scale isn’t so bad,” Jonathan Trudeau wrote for the Journal Wednesday.

But underlying many of the arguments is a fundamental sense that English Canada is biased against Quebec and its companies. Why punish thousands of workers when those who engaged in corruption are now outside of the company, Jean-Robert Sansfaçon asked in Le Devoir Tuesday? Why not allow for a solution that will prevent the dismantlement of such an important Quebec entity?

“I can’t help but wonder whether English Canada’s punditocracy would be as indignant if the prime minister’s office had seemingly been trying to save a Toronto- or Calgary-based multinational corporation instead of a Quebec one,” wrote Lise Ravary, in English, for the Montreal Gazette on Tuesday. “SNC-Lavalin is Canada’s largest engineering firm. Not just Quebec’s.”

• Email: mdsmith@postmedia.com | Twitter: mariedanielles

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‎Today, ‎February ‎13, ‎2019, ‏‎11 minutes ago
 

Federal government official at centre of Mark Norman case charged for allegedly leaking information

 
‎Today, ‎February ‎13, ‎2019, ‏‎12 minutes ago | David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

A federal official at the centre of the case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman has been charged with breach of trust for allegedly disclosing government information to unauthorized individuals.

Matthew Matchett is expected to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice on March 5 after RCMP charged him Wednesday.

It is alleged that Matchett unlawfully disclosed government information to unauthorized parties, according to an RCMP news release. “This concludes an extensive criminal investigation which first began in December 2015, when the RCMP received a complaint alleging that cabinet confidence information about a Canadian naval supply ship contract had been leaked.”

Norman is himself charged with one count of breach of trust for allegedly leaking information that the Liberal government planned to pause a project to acquire a new naval supply ship from Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding. Norman was the second-highest officer in Canada’s military when he was suspended from duty in January 2017. He was criminally charged a year later. He maintains his innocence, and his lawyers have argued that the leak — specifically a leak to CBC reporter James Cudmore — came not from Norman but from Matchett, through a prominent Ottawa lobbyist.

Details about Matchett’s alleged role in leaking information were first outlined in a pre-trial hearing for Norman in November 2018. It came in RCMP records filed in court by Norman’s defence team as they tried to gather more information about Matchett, who worked for the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency at the time of the alleged leak, and why he had not been charged.

Among the records was an email from Matchett’s account sent on Nov. 17, 2015 to lobbyist Brian Mersereau of the firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

“I got everything — the motherload,” said the email from Matchett’s account. But it also said his BlackBerry phone was “caput,” and he needed to know where to drop off the material.

One minute later came the response: “Here if ok,” wrote Mersereau, whose firm had Davie as a major client. “Just leave it at front. Lots of funny folks wandering around.”

“I figured that’s why I asked,” Matchett’s account replied less than a minute later.

mark_norman_20190129.jpg?w=640

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance arrives at the courthouse to appear as a witness in the trial for his former second-in-command, suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, in Ottawa, Tuesday January 29, 2019.

Mersereau would later tell an RCMP investigator that when he arrived the next day at his Metcalfe Street office, a package in a brown envelope was waiting for him. Inside were documents that were to be presented at a meeting on Nov. 19, 2015, where a federal cabinet committee would debate the future of the $700-million supply ship project. The RCMP would seize the documents, including a PowerPoint presentation deck and a memorandum to cabinet, in a raid of Mersereau’s office six months later.

The Nov. 19 meeting is at the centre of the RCMP’s case against Norman. That meeting saw Liberal ministers decide to delay the project while they sought more information. Word of their decision immediately leaked to the media and, amid the resulting public scrutiny, the government soon reversed course. Furious over the leak, the government launched an internal probe; when that failed to turn up answers, it referred the file to the RCMP for a criminal investigation.

Postmedia has made numerous attempts over the course of several months to contact Matchett by email and phone, but he has not responded to requests for comment.

As the months stretched on without charges against Matchett, Norman’s supporters question whether a double-standard was at work, even as Crown prosecutors sought to downplay Matchett’s role and his impact on the case.

In December 2018 Barbara Mercier, a Crown prosecutor in the Norman case, told a judge that whatever leaks of cabinet information that Matchett might have orchestrated, they shouldn’t be considered in the same league as what Norman is alleged to have done.

“We submit that we’re talking about apples and oranges here,” Mercier told the judge during a pre-trial hearing on the release of documents for Norman’s legal team. “Mr. Matchett was an analyst at ACOA. He wasn’t a commander in the navy.”

Norman’s defence team had at the time asked for document disclosure related to any investigation into Matchett’s activities. In court filings, they argued the information would help reveal “the standard of conduct in Ottawa, the differing treatment of leaks in Ottawa, and the motivation for charging VAdm Norman.”

But Mercier said that, even if Matchett had already leaked some of the same cabinet material that Norman is accused of leaking, it wouldn’t change the fact that its alleged release by Norman was illegal. “In our submission, it doesn’t take us anywhere,” Mercier told Justice Heather Perkins-McVey.

The Crown disclosed for the first time in late December  2018 that Matchett had been suspended without pay from his current job at Public Service and Procurement Canada only since Oct. 17, 2018 — days after Norman’s defence team publicly named Matchett as an alleged source of leaks based on information the RCMP investigation had uncovered.

Matchett’s security clearance, however, had been lifted June 22, 2017 — more than a year before his suspension.

• Email: dpugliese@postmedia.com | Twitter: davidpugliese

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John Ivison: Justice committee becomes a farce not seen since Liberal sponsorship scandal

 
‎Today, ‎February ‎13, ‎2019, ‏‎13 minutes ago | John Ivison

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien is said to have told his cabinet the story of a farmer covered in cow dung. The farmer knew that if he tried to wipe the manure away when it was still fresh, he would spread it around and make it worse. Instead, he waited until it dried and then brushed it away.

The anecdote came to mind watching the Liberal members of the justice committee buy the prime minister precious time to allow the hurricane of feculence soiling his reputation to pass before trying to clean it up.

Liberal committee members claimed they wanted nothing more than to reassure Canadians that their justice system is not only intact, but robust, in light of allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office intervened inappropriately with the office of the then attorney-general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, over the corruption prosecution of Quebec engineering giant, SNC-Lavalin.

Yet that enthusiasm did not prevent all five Liberals from voting against an amendment that called for the key players in the saga to appear before them as witnesses.

It was a shameless display of sucking and blowing.

The Liberals — Randy Boissonnault, Ali Ehsassi, Colin Fraser, Iqra Khalid and Ron McKinnon — backed their own motion that called on the committee to consider the arcane points of law involved in the case — the concept of remediation deals for errant corporations and the principles of the Shawcross doctrine that guides the relationship between the attorney general and his or her cabinet colleagues.

Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative provocateur-in-chief, said what the Liberals appeared to want was a “legal symposium.”

The Liberal motion also called for the appearance of three witnesses — the current attorney general David Lametti; the clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick; and, the senior bureaucrat in the justice department, Nathalie Drouin.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen was first to point out that it was “more than interesting” that Wilson-Raybould was not among the witnesses the Liberals suggested calling.

“We can’t reassure Canadians because we don’t know what happened yet,” he said. “I don’t want a seven-month expedition into the deepest bowels of Canadian law.”

He proposed an amendment that added the names of Wilson-Raybould and two high-ranking advisers in the Prime Minister’s Office, Gerald Butts and Mathieu Bouchard, to the list of witnesses.

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.

However, the Liberal members combined to defeat it, on the grounds that the justice committee has always discussed its witness list in camera. The committee is “not an investigative body,” said Boissonnault. “We don’t have the tools, the budget or the mechanisms to go on the type of fishing expedition or witch-hunt the Conservatives would like to see.”

It was as cynical a subversion of the public interest to narrow partisan concerns as Parliament Hill has seen since the public accounts committee descended into farce during the sponsorship scandal a decade and a half ago.

As Cullen pointed out: “Of course committees have the power to investigate — we can subpoena witnesses. It’s just a question of whether we want to use it.”

Liberal MP Ehsassi was at least honest when he laid out his position — that in his personal opinion, “there is nothing to be concerned about.”

He said the Liberal members had “checked our partisan hats at the door” and the real problem was the “political dynamic on the other side.”

The committee allowed for a certain amount of grandstanding from the opposition members.

Poilievre called Justin Trudeau “despicable and cowardly” for attacking Wilson-Raybould, “who is legally incapable of defending herself.”

The opposition deputy leader, Lisa Raitt, said the Trudeau Liberals constitute “a government in total chaos.”

But at least she got to the nub of the issue — that someone in the Prime Minister’s Office is alleged to have applied pressure on the attorney general to overrule the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, in the SNC-Lavalin case.

Raitt said the committee’s job was to find out what form the pressure took and who applied it.

The Conservatives had put forward a motion that called on the committee to invite nine witnesses — Wilson-Raybould; Butts; Bouchard; Lametti; Roussel; Wernick; Wilson-Raybould’s former chief of staff, Jessica Prince; Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford; and his senior adviser, Elder Marques — and report back no later than Feb. 28.

Needless to say, that didn’t fly with Liberal committee members who were remarkably incurious about what these additional witnesses might contribute.

Liberal MP McKinnon said that, since there is no hard evidence of any wrongdoing, it would be a mistake to invite “random people” as witnesses as part of a fishing expedition.

It’s as well Leonardo di Vinci was not a Liberal committee member or the Renaissance might never have happened.

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Chair Anthony Housefather arrives for a meeting of the federal Justice Committee in Ottawa, Feb. 13, 2019.

Conservative MP Michael Cooper said Canadians deserve to be reassured that the Prime Minister’s Office did not try to intervene in a criminal prosecution, but that the Liberal motion did little to offer that reassurance. “The only conclusion I can draw is that there is no interest in getting to the bottom of this matter,” he said.

Khalid said that she and her colleagues were independent and had not been influenced in any way to back the motion. “I stand by the integrity of this committee,” she said.

There remained the prospect of additional witness — Lametti, Wernick and Drouin were named only because they had already agreed to appear, she said.

That sparked the Conservatives to ask who had invited them, to which Boissonnault conceded: “My colleagues in government …”

It emerged the government House leader’s office had co-ordinated the invitations.

So much for independence; so much for integrity.

The Liberal attempt to drag out the proceedings was as blatant as it was unconvincing.

There was a particular irony in their enthusiasm to study the workings of remediation deals now that the provision has already passed into law. It was noted that the justice committee did not have the chance to examine the legislation when it was snuck into the budget implementation bill last year and rammed through the finance committee.

I have argued in recent columns that the interactions between the Prime Minister’s Office and the attorney general, on the available evidence, likely fell short of interference.

After the abject performance of the Liberals on the justice committee, I’m not so sure. Trudeau is sunk in the mire and it’s getting messy.

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