Issues left to resolve in SNC-Lavalin case
Like most reasonable people who aren’t Liberal Party politicians or Liberal pundits, I take great concern with a letter written to you by Mr. Michael Den Tandt on Monday, April 8.
In his letter, Mr. Den Tandt explains how he is tired of hearing about the SNC-Lavalin affair and how we should all just forgive and forget when it comes to the prime minister’s interference in a case of corruption charges against a large corporation.
Mr. Den Tandt attempts to put the blame on Ms. Wilson-Raybould by claiming that what he sees is a “strong-willed politician who did not want to change jobs”. Meanwhile, every Canadian outside the Liberal Party sees a strong-willed attorney general standing up for prosecutorial independence and a prime minister that threw a fit because he didn’t get his way.
The most disappointing part of Mr. Den Tandt’s letter is that it demonstrates his flawed understanding of the rule of law and our systems of governance. He refers to Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Ms. Philpott as “undermining their own team”. There are no “teams” when it comes to the rule of law. There is simply right and wrong and the prime minister was wrong to do what he did. This “team” mentality has no place in administering the law and is truly the heart of the problem here.
I wonder if Mr. Den Tandt remembers a piece he wrote on September 22, 2016 (before he became part of the Liberal “team”) in reference to the outrageous moving expenses Gerry Butts and Katie Telford charged the taxpayers. He explains the Liberals handling of this issue and the mistakes made.
Most importantly he notes the party’s inability to view the issue as an average Canadian. He states that Liberal Party staff went to PMO carrying copies of Dan Gardner’s 2015 book, Superforecasting – The Art and Science of Prediction. According to Mr. Den Tandt this book is “a warning about the perils of group think, the institutional inability to view one’s actions from the point of view of an impartial outsider.”
Perhaps he should pick up a copy.
Conservative Party Nomination Candidate
Remaining Liberal supporter
In this fast changing world crucial decisions have to be made. Some of them are bound to be wrong but that is certainly OK as long as we learn from them.
Taking into account that mistakes are greatly (and gleefully) magnified in the political arena and wanting to be led by a political party that does not downplay the challenges facing us, I am going to remain a Liberal Party of Canada supporter.
To those of you who are wavering I would say, ‘Well, if you knows of a better ‘ole, go to it.’
RR 6 Owen Sound
‘Just the Facts Ma’am’
I’m a democratic socialist. It’s a condition that may be genetic. My mother voted for Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan. So, you could dismiss the following notes on the SNC-Lavalin affair and go do something else. But if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to lay out what we know for sure, as opposed to what we think we know, or what we’re being told to know.
First, we know the government brought in deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) for corporations with an omnibus bill that implemented their 2018 budget. It passed into law on the heels of a full-court press from SNC Lavalin. You can find it in Part XXII.1 of the Criminal Code.
Second, the law lists a number of things the public prosecutor (currently Kathleen Roussel) MUST consider when thinking of offering a company a DPA instead of proceeding to court. There are nine, including whether the company has taken disciplinary action against those involved, whether the company has made reparations, and whether the company has been sanctioned by a regulatory body (which SNC Lavalin has).
In deciding whether to offer a company a DPA, the public prosecutor must NOT consider “national economic interests.” Or, for that matter, political interests—like votes in Quebec.
After reviewing the law and the facts of the case, Ms. Roussel decided SNC Lavalin did not qualify for a DPA. That forces the company into litigation which is due to begin before the fall election.
Third, if the attorney general sets aside a decision of the public prosecutor, that action must be Gazetted—in other words, made very public. If that had happened, the Liberals would have been open to charges of allowing a corporation (and a major Liberal donor) off the hook for political gain.
Fourth, SNC Lavalin continued to lobby the government and the government lobbied the attorney general. Lobbying a minister is fair game. Lobbying the attorney general in order to influence a prosecution is not. And that goes for the prime minister, the PM’s Office, and especially the Clerk of the Privy Council Office who is supposed to a non-partisan bureaucrat.
And yet that is exactly what happened—over and over for a full five months before the Globe and Mail broke the story on February 7, 2019.
Not only that, the ‘non-partisan’ clerk, Michael Wernick, made it clear to the attorney general in December 2018 that he was delivering the mood and message of the prime minister who was apparently so upset that he was prepared get his way “one way or another.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a threat: do what I want or else.
Mr Wernick testified at the Justice Committee that he knew way back in September 2018 about the decision of the public prosecutor not to offer a DPA to SNC Lavalin, and the attorney general’s determination not to overturn that decision on principle. And yet, he and Gerald Butts from the Prime Minister’s Office, and the PM himself persisted.
So, as Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, those are “just the facts, ma’am.”
One last observation. During the 2015 election campaign, Mr. Trudeau promised us a new way of doing politics. But the only ones who were truly doing politics differently are now gone from the Liberal caucus.
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