March 2, 2019 - No. 7
Concern to the Polity
The Need for
to Enable Canadians to Hold
Governments to Account
Political Interference in the Case
• Hearings of
the Standing Committee on Justice and Human
Rights -- the Significance of Wernick's Testimony
- Barbara Biley -
Corruption of the Liberal Government Judged by the Standards Set
by the UN Convention Against Corruption
- Diane Johnston -
Jobs Is of No Concern in This Imbroglio
- Louis Lang -
and the Charbonneau Commission
- Pierre Chénier -
• The Pretext
to Make Political Parties Appendages of the State
- Geneviève Royer -
• How the
Justice System Treats the Criminal Acts of SNC-Lavalin
The Party Press on the Sponsorship
Free and Fair Elections in Canada
Comes Tumbling Down
- TML Daily, April 22, 2005 -
• The Gomery
• The Harper
Government's Conception of Accountability
For Your Information
Wilson-Raybould's Testimony at Justice Committee
• Orders In
- February 25, 2019 -
Matters of Concern to the Polity
TML Weekly is
publishing views and commentary related
to the political interference of the Trudeau government in a
matter before the courts related to the engineering giant
SNC-Lavalin. Given the disinformation promoted by the official
circles in and out of government, it is important for Canadians
to get a perspective on this scandal which helps them understand
the depth of the crisis the establishment finds itself in as a
result of all the state arrangements made to benefit narrow
private interests in the name of high ideals. The desperation of
Prime Minister Trudeau to help SNC-Lavalin is palpable and shows
not only the pressure these narrow private interests are capable
of putting on governments to serve their aims, but the extent to
which both the party in power and the point men of the state such
as the Clerk of the Privy Council bend over backwards to serve
In this case, the testimony given by the former
General Jody Wilson-Raybould, known for the integrity with which
she carries out her responsibilities, reveals the nature of the
wheeling and dealing which goes on in the corridors of power
behind the backs of the people. If the Attorney General could not
be persuaded to agree to intervene in the case, at least she
should agree to find a way out for the government by getting "an
outside opinion" while the Prime Minister's entourage would
organize op-eds to build a credible case. In the course of this,
everyone's image is tarnished, including the perception that former
Justices of the Supreme Court are for sale, as in the case of Frank
Iacobucci who has been hired by SNC-Lavalin to make its case to
escape criminal charges so as to continue qualifying for
government contracts. And the best part is that all of it is
legal! In fact, what the government is arguing is that even
though it may be "inappropriate" it is legal. And because so many
jobs are allegedly at stake, maybe it is not so inappropriate
after all. In fact, according to the narrative being spun, it is
downright "appropriate" and therefore "legitimate!"
Wilson-Raybould noted that Clerk of the Privy Council
Wernick said as much in a December 18, 2018 phone call. She
recounted him saying that "[the Prime Minister] wants to be able
to say that he has tried everything he can within the legitimate
toolbox." As for Trudeau's Chief of Staff Katie Telford and
recently resigned Principal Secretary Gerald Butts,
Wilson-Raybould recounted that they similarly wanted such a
"solution," quoting a transcript of their conversation with her
own Chief of Staff Jessica Prince. Butts is recounted as saying:
"Jess, there is no solution here that doesn't involve some
interference," while Telford remarked "we don't want to debate
legalities anymore." This "characterization" of the conversations
is expected to be contested when Butts testifies before the
Justice Committee on March 6.
The facts attested to in the articles in this issue of TML
Weekly speak for themselves. The performance of SNC-Lavalin in
acquiring Atomic Energy of Canada Limited under the Harper government
exposes the mantra about defending Canadian jobs as a fraud. The
millions of dollars spent on bribing officials to acquire contracts in
Canada such as to fix the crumbling Champlain Bridge, build the McGill
megahospital, provide the infrastructure for a light rail commuter
train, all in Montreal, amongst others, do not have job creation as
their aim. Not least of all, every time SNC-Lavalin manages to get
serious charges against it dismissed by the courts, the media with all
their powers of investigation are silent. They prefer to let the
insinuation hang in the air that Libya under Gadhaffi was a cesspool of
corruption but in Canada we have rule of law. These are aberrations,
not the rule.
Far from it! The SNC-Lavalin
case before us reveals how what
the political police call the liberal democratic institutions in
Canada work; how they function to pay the rich. This is brought
to light not because any of this is new, but because of the firm
stand taken by the former Attorney General. The current
SNC-Lavalin case shows what happens in Canada. The millions of
dollars in bribes and the power of governments and the state
power and the power over the courts are not a matter that one
need surmise. The evidence is before us.
It also cannot escape the attention of Canadians that
the Trudeau government is introducing all manner of changes to
the electoral law and a new National Security Act in the
name of restricting "foreign influence" in Canadian elections so
as to not permit the undermining of Canada's "liberal democratic
institutions," the SNC-Lavalin case shows the lengths to which
governments themselves interfere to undermine the very same
"liberal democratic institutions." It is companies like
SNC-Lavalin, whatever government is in power and the point men of
the state who are engaged in bribery, threatening behaviour and
subversion of what the political police call Canada's liberal
democratic institutions. What is democratic about that?
Besides other things, the SNC Lavalin case also shows
sense of entitlement of those who have privileged positions
within the polity when it comes to breaking the law, engaging in
what they know to be illegal acts and feeling that they can do so
with impunity. Even when they are caught with their hands in the
cookie jar, governments and the rich strata they protect can make
laws that give them impunity.
Wernick's testimony is in complete violation of his
as Clerk of the Privy Council. The offensive that he is trying to
take regarding his so-called worry about foreign interference in
the upcoming election and the "rising tide of incitements to
violence" is a pétard to extricate the Prime Minister, his
office and the Privy Council itself from the mess that they find
themselves in. Far from eliminating the role of privilege, it is
all done to provide legitimacy to the increased use of police
powers. The more it goes, the more government is exposed as
having no moral justification whatsoever for its pay-the-rich
schemes in the name of high ideals.
TML Weekly is also publishing material from the
Party Press which recalls the 1995 sponsorship scandal from the days of
the Jean Chrétien Liberal government. Desperate at that time to
defeat the Quebec referendum and remain in power, the Liberal Party
wallowed in corruption while all the parties in the House of Commons
joined its "unity" bandwagon which violated Quebec election laws. The
Gomery Commission into the sponsorship scandal revealed the extent of
the corrupt practices for which the Liberals were subsequently turfed
out of federal office. Before they left, the Liberals suggested they
were addressing the sponsorship scandal by enacting limits on corporate
contributions to political parties and candidates, saying this would
end the "undue influence of money." The Harper Conservatives went
further, banning corporate contributions altogether. None of this could
change the essentially corrupt character of party government in Canada.
Under the sanctimonious Harper government, corruption was practised on
an even grander scale and now, under the sunny disposition of the
Trudeau regime, it is grander still.
What is significant in all of this is how, in the same
during the sponsorship scandal and under the Harper government,
so today Canadians can see that it is not just a question of
wrong-doing by certain individuals who need to be punished but
never are. It is an indication of a fundamental problem that in
this system called a representative democracy based on what is
called responsible government, the people are powerless to hold
those in power to account.
The spectacle shows how everyone from the Prime
Minister to his staff, to the point men of the state past and present,
the leaders of the other parties in the House of Commons and of the
Official Opposition, former justices of the Supreme Court and the media
at the disposal of maintaining the rule of narrow private interests
over the polity, are all in it together. All of them divert the
attention of the people away from discussing how the problem of being
unable to hold governments to account can be solved.
The Liberals are taking the approach that this is just
question of different interpretations of events and discussions,
while the Opposition is arguing about whether there should be
criminal charges or a commission of inquiry. All are trying to
cover up the fact that it is the system of representative
democracy and the electoral process built on top of it which is
in crisis and needs renewal. If what is legitimate is to be made
the issue, then it is the process which brings party governments
to power, over which the people exercise no control, whose
legitimacy is brought into question by these unfolding
Canada preaches to so-called third world countries to
out corruption. Oodles of money is spent on training foreigners
to do things legally. In the case of Venezuela, in the name of
providing humanitarian aid and opposing the allegedly corrupt
government and president, the Government of Canada is even
backing a brutal coup d'état and appeasing plans of the
United States to invade that country. Foreign Minister Chrystia
Freeland struts around the world as the great white knight of the
rule of law, democracy and the judge of what is "legitimate" in
other countries and what is not. But this SNC-Lavalin case in
fact reveals that Canada's corruption stands second to none. The
difference is that in Canada everything is "legal." Attempts to
present Canada's corruption as "legal" solicits nothing but
contempt and condemnation but it will nonetheless be said that it
is necessary and therefore "legitimate."
The position of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
during the sponsorship scandal more than 20 years ago, brought
forward in this issue of TML Weekly, is particularly
appropriate at this time:
"Today, as the anti-social offensive and the drive to
Canada in the aggressive wars led by U.S. imperialism are stepped
up, the problem that the people cannot hold the government to
account becomes increasingly evident and urgent. So long as
Canadians do not participate in setting government agendas and
are, on the contrary, at the mercy of whatever self-serving
agendas the government, political parties and the media set, the
problem of accountability will continue to plague the polity.
Thus, the most important question which has emerged is who wields
political power -- where the decision-making power is vested.
While the question of power involves a myriad of elements, the
cutting edge of the people's struggle for empowerment is to build
the organizations through which they can put themselves into
positions of influence by taking stands that defend the rights of
the people and, on this basis, open society's door to progress
and advance the cause of peace and human rights. This is the only
way people can avert the dangers which those in power today are
preparing. The program of the MLPC is to bring forward worker
politicians and people's representatives to elect and be elected
to form a Workers' Opposition in the Parliament. A Workers'
Opposition can then go further and create an anti-war government
which responds to the needs of the people at home and
Political Interference in the Case of
The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of
the House of Commons heard from witnesses this week at the public
hearings it is conducting "for the study of the Remediation Agreements,
the Shawcross Doctrine and the Discussions between the Office of the
Attorney General and Government Colleagues." On February 21 the
committee heard from Attorney General David Lametti; Deputy Minister of
Justice and Deputy Attorney General Nathalie Drouin and Clerk of the
Privy Council Michael Wernick. On February 27 the Committee heard
former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and, besides others, it is
scheduled to hear Prime Minister Trudeau's former Principle Secretary
Gerald Butts on March 6. Butts resigned his post on February 18, saying
in his resignation letter that he did this so as to "not take one
away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for
The hearings are being held to address concerns
accusations of attempts by the Office of the Prime Minister to
influence the course of criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin.
The accusations were first revealed in an article by Robert Fife
in the Globe and Mail on February 7 in which the claim was
made, citing "sources," that members of the Prime Minister's
Office "pressured" then Attorney General Jody Wilson Raybould to
use her authority to get the director of public prosecutions to
reverse her decision and offer a remediation agreement to
SNC-Lavalin. A remediation
agreement would have resulted in the
staying of criminal charges that the company is facing.
SNC-Lavalin is appealing the decision.
What Michael Wernick's Testimony Reveals
Mr. Wernick chose to preface his testimony with opening
remarks which have scandalized the country in various ways, not
least of which is how he used the hearings as a
present personal views of an inflammatory and defensive nature,
contrary to the people's understanding of the impartiality
expected from a senior public servant.
In this regard, Wernick's
views seemed to have the aim of intimidating any individual or
political force in the country that dares to challenge the status
quo and express an opinion contrary to that of the ruling elite
as currently represented by the Trudeau government. He opened by
saying, "A lot has been said and written in the last few weeks
and I think there are a couple of things that need to be
clarified. I worry about my country right now, I'm deeply
concerned about my country right now and its politics and where
it's headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming
election and we're working hard on that. I worry about the rising
tide of incitements to violence, when people use terms like
'treason' and 'traitor' in open discourse. Those are the words
that lead to assassination. I'm worried that someone is going to
be shot in this country this year during the political
Wernick next made reference to
made by Conservative
Senator Michael Tkachuk at a pro-pipeline rally on Parliament
Hill. The Senator was reported in the press to have told the
rally "I know you've rolled all the way here, and I'm going to
ask you one more thing: I want you to roll over every Liberal
left in the country, Because when they're gone these bills are
gone." The reference was to two bills before Parliament and clearly
to "roll over every Liberal left in the country" was an appeal for
voters to defeat the Liberals in the
upcoming October federal election. Wernick, however, said, "I think
that it's totally
unacceptable that a member of the Parliament of Canada would
incite people to drive trucks over people, after what happened in
Toronto last summer. Totally unacceptable and I hope that you, as
parliamentarians, are going to condemn that."
To accuse Senator Tkachuk of calling for the equivalent
the van attack in Toronto in which 10 people were killed and 16
injured degrades political discourse in Canada. It also provides
feedstock to the Trudeau government's rationale to
justify putting the police in charge of elections and deciding
what is and is not legitimate speech.
Having raised the spectre of assassinations and other
violence, along with claims that the reputations of honourable people
are "being besmirched and dragged through the market square," and
reference to the "trolling from the vomitorium of social media entering
the open media arena," Wernick said that "Most of all, I worry
about people losing faith in the institutions of governance in
this country, and that's why these proceedings are so important."
He then sought to reassure Canadians that they have nothing to
worry about concerning the rule of law in this country, because
everything that was done was legal.
Are we to understand that because he is an experienced
servant, one of whose main qualifications is to not get involved
in partisan politics, the committee conducting the hearings
should draw the same conclusion, that everything is legal and
above-board? Wernick forcefully asserted that everything is
working fine, "the prosecutor is independent," "the Lobbying
Act worked as intended," "the ethics commissioner initiated
his own process," "the shields held," the proof that the
government is not "soft on corporate crime" is that "the company
did not get what it wanted -- demonstrably, because they're
seeking judicial review."
What is the purpose of this presentation?
Wernick made best efforts to present his actions as
legal, along with those of others whose actions he is tasked with
from public scrutiny. But his testimony
should in fact be seen as setting the stage for what is to come.
Not without reason, he expressly conflated what is legal with
what is presented as being "legitimate" for reasons of national
security or job creation or a matter of being humanitarian, and
the like. The most egregious violations of the fundamental
principles guiding the rule of law nationally and internationally
are dispensed with in the name of a cause said to make the
His personal concerns for
his country served to raise
and create a climate of fear and suspicion of foreign actors and of
one another, particularly in the context of the federal election,
as a justification for increased police powers. This is the modus
operandi paving the way to justify the
criminalization of dissent and to silence all those who undermine
the people's "faith in the institutions of governance in this
country," the very point raised by the political police when they
instruct political parties of what is "legitimate opinion" and what
is not. Any opinion contrary to the official state position is
considered to be "illegitimate." This is in line with measures
taken to expand the role of the state's intelligence agencies in
elections and the attempts to enforce officially
sanctioned political opinion.
When everything is said and done it looks like Michael
Wernick made the ultimate medieval chivalrous gesture of falling
on his own sword, considering himself the
consummate civil servant, devoted to defending the person of state
in these troubled times. At a time the shameless pay-the-rich
corruption and shenanigans of consecutive governments have shattered
"faith in the institutions of governance," what the Clerk of the Privy
Council has come to tell the nation amounts to saying, it is not only
all "legal" but, more importantly, "legitimate" because of the high
ideals involved to save jobs and, in any case, you are powerless to do
anything about it. At a time, the "institutions of
governance" are being called into question by the polity precisely
because they are instruments to serve the rich, the servants of the
Canadian state rise to defend this practice. In the corridors of power,
laws can be snuck in which make whatever the rich demand legal, while
the coterie in government, the highest position in the civil service,
former justices of the Supreme Court and the media argue the merits, by
making themselves the decision-makers on what is "legitimate" and what
1. A Justice Department
backgrounder titled "Remediation Agreements and Orders to Address
Corporate Crime," states that remediation agreements can be used by
prosecutors "at their discretion to address specified economic crimes
if they consider it to be in the public interest and appropriate in the
circumstances." It goes on to explain, "A remediation agreement would
be a voluntary agreement between a prosecutor and an organization
accused of committing an offence. Agreements would set out an end date
and would need to be presented to a judge for approval. [...] While an
agreement is in force, any criminal prosecution for conduct that is
covered by the agreement would be put on hold. If the accused
organization complies with terms and conditions set out in the
agreement, the prosecutor would apply to a judge for an order of
successful completion when the agreement expires. The charges would
then be stayed and no criminal conviction would result. If the accused
did not comply, the charges could be revived and the accused could be
prosecuted and potentially convicted."
In considering a company for a remediation agreement, "if the
organization is alleged to have committed an offence under section 3 or
4 of the Corruption of Foreign
Public Officials Act, the prosecutor
must not consider the national economic interest, the potential effect
on relations with a state other than Canada or the identity of the
organization or individual involved." In other words, amongst the
reasons that could be given for offering a remediation agreement, the
future of the company is not a legal option available.
2. The term "bully pulpit" was coined by
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who referred to his office as
a "bully pulpit," by which he meant a terrific platform from
which to advocate an agenda. Roosevelt used the word bully as an
adjective meaning "superb," "wonderful" or "first-rate," a more
common usage at that time, not the noun bully ("a blustering,
browbeating person"), that is common today. (Merriam-Webster
3. The Government of Canada's
Privy Council website says the role of the Clerk "is to advise the
Prime Minister and elected Government officials in managing the
country. The Clerk does so from an objective, non-partisan, public
policy perspective. He also ensures Canada's federal public service is
managed effectively and follows a code of value and ethics in its work
to design and deliver high quality services and programs for Canadians
and their families."
Prime Minister Trudeau himself and members of his
government, as well as public servants, such as Clerk of the
Privy Council Michael Wernick, go to great lengths to assure us
that absolutely nothing illegal has been done in government
dealings with SNC-Lavalin. Even the former Attorney General, Jody
Wilson-Raybould, says that what was done is not illegal but
improper. And not a few of the commentators and pundits have
pointed out that this is where the real scandal lies -- that all
these self-serving things are done legally. And there's the rub!
Definitions are being provided of what constitutes
corruption, what is legal and what is proper, and all of it is
with what is legitimate. In fact, the crux of the matter lies in who
does the defining of what's what.
The standards set by the UN make a distinction between
"grand" (political) corruption and "petty" (bureaucratic)
corruption. This SNC-Lavalin case no doubt illustrates both. But,
above all else, it shows that Canada is corrupt because in Canada
corruption is defined by those who seek to legitimate their
actions by claiming higher motives such as the "national
interest," "job creation," "humanitarian aid," "freedom" and
The government's approach, which is to distance itself
by conflating what is legal with what is "legitimate," ignores a
crucial element of the international law regime enshrined in the
UN Convention Against Corruption, signed by Canada on May 21, 2005
and ratified on October 2, 2007.
Article 13 of the UN Convention Against Corruption,
heading Participation of Society, states:
1. Each State party shall
take appropriate measures,
its means and in accordance with fundamental principles of its
domestic law, to promote the active participation of individuals
and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society,
non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations,
in the prevention of and the fight against corruption and to
raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and
gravity of and the threat posed by corruption. This participation
should be strengthened by such measures as:
(a) Enhancing the
transparency of and promoting the
contribution of the public to decision-making processes; ...
In a paper titled "Corruption Definitions and
Amundsen identifies the main forms of corruption as bribery,
embezzlement, fraud and extortion.
"The decisive role of the state is reflected in most
definitions of corruption. Corruption is conventionally
understood, and referred to, as the private wealth-seeking
behaviour of someone who represents the state and the public
authority. It is the misuse of public goods by public officials,
for private gains. The working definition of the World Bank is
that corruption is the abuse of public power for private benefit.
Another widely used description is that corruption is a
transaction between private and public sector actors through
which collective goods are illegitimately converted into
private-regarding payoffs. (Heidenheimer et al. 1993:6)"
Amundsen cites Mushtaq Kahn who defines corruption as
"behaviour that deviates from the formal rules of conduct
governing the actions of someone in a position of public
authority because of private-regarding motives such as wealth,
power or status. (Kahn 1996:12)"
Amundsen distinguishes between political corruption and
bureaucratic corruption ("grand" v "petty"). Political corruption
is the use by political decision-makers of the political power they
are armed with to sustain their power, status and wealth. It is the
tailoring of policy formulation and legislation to benefit
politicians and legislators.
Amundsen writes that “Political corruption implies the
manipulation of political institutions and the rules of procedure, and
it consequently distorts the institutions of government. Political
corruption is a deviation from the rational-legal values and principles
of the modern state and leads to institutional decay. The basic problem
of political corruption is the lack of political will to encounter the
problem: the power-holders do not wish to change a system of which they
are the main profiteers." This is exactly what is taking place in this
Bribery in International Business Transactions of the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD Convention). In 1998,
Parliament passed the Corruption of
Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) to implement Canada's
obligations under the OECD Convention into Canadian law.
to stop the flow of bribes and
to remove bribery as a non-tariff barrier to trade, producing a level
playing field in international business.
for convicted individuals, to create a new books and records offence
and to expand jurisdiction based on nationality. In addition, the 2013
amendment stated that at a later date the government would eliminate
the exception for facilitation payments. Facilitation payments are
those made to foreign public officials to secure or expedite the
performance of acts of a routine nature that are within the scope of
the official's duties. The repeal came into force on October 31, 2017
and such payments are now included under the foreign bribery offences
listed in the CFPOA.
A Government of Canada overview of this Convention
"No country is entirely free of corruption. But if
is deep enough it can hinder economic growth and good governance,
and decay the fabric of society. Corruption is an obstacle to
sustainable development, with the potential to enlarge economic
gaps and breed organized crime. Unchecked corruption leaves
little room for democracy to flourish; little room for freedom to
expand; little room for justice to prevail.
"We have made significant gains in the global fight
corruption. Better understandings of its economic, political and
social costs have spurred recent international efforts to fight
corruption, encourage transparency and increase accountability.
Canada strongly supports international efforts to combat
corruption, regarding it as a good governance issue, a crime
problem, and a drag on economic, social and political
The example of the Government of Canada's handling of
SNC-Lavalin case definitely does not corroborate these claims.
Besides anything else, this case has brought to light that the
Trudeau government slipped a remediation agreement into the
budget mega bill which permits the Chief Prosecutor of Canada to
stay criminal charges that a company faces. This has been done under
the pretext of high ideals and because it is done by the UK
and some other countries as well.
Canada has placed itself on myriad
bodies as a grand defender against corruption. However, the
actions of the Trudeau government, not just on SNC-Lavalin but on
all the files on which it promised to deliver justice, have
irreparably tarnished Canada's claim to uphold the rule of law.
Damage control will now try to present a case that not only it
was legal but not inappropriate because it is a legitimate use of
What is legitimate, who is legitimate and who
decides have become the crucial matters of concern for the polity
in this sordid affair.
1. Inge Amundsen is a political
scientist whose focus is democratic institutionalization, political
economy, parliaments, political parties, political corruption, and
natural resources. He identifies the main forms of corruption as
bribery, embezzlement, fraud and extortion.
2. Igne Amundsen, "Corruption:
Draft" (January 17, 2000), Chr Michelsen Institute Development
Studies and Human Rights.
Strike in July 2012 by 800 nuclear scientists, engineers and
technologists at Candu Energy,
a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin Inc. created in 2011 after the
acquisition of the commercial reactor division of Atomic Energy of
Canada Ltd. from the government of Canada.
SNC-Lavalin's position has been that it should be
considered for a remediation agreement instead of being
prosecuted because it claims that the bribery charges it faces
are without merit and stem from "alleged reprehensible deeds by
former employees who left the company long ago." However, the
main argument given to defend SNC-Lavalin is that a conviction on
charges would bar the corporation from bidding on government
contracts for ten years. Those defending the position of the
Trudeau government claim that this would jeopardize thousands of
Looking at the matter
solely to examine whether or not SNC-Lavalin and its lobbyists and
government insiders have engaged in criminal activities completely
covers up the relationship between governments, both Liberal and
Conservative, and the private interests which they have acted to
protect at the expense of public control of important sectors of the
economy. Their pretense of protecting SNC-Lavalin for the sake of "good
jobs" is a total lie because giving preference to SNC-Lavalin for
decades has destroyed thousands of jobs to build and operate public
infrastructure that has been systematically handed over to private
A most vivid example is the destruction of Atomic
Canada Limited (AECL), a Crown corporation founded in 1952 with a
mandate to develop nuclear energy technology. AECL developed the
CANDU reactor technology in the 1950s and, until its sale to
SNC-Lavalin in 2011, was also the vendor of CANDU technology
which it had exported worldwide. Throughout the 1960s to 2000s,
AECL built CANDU facilities in India, the Republic of Korea, Argentina,
Romania and the People's Republic of China.
In June 2011, AECL was sold to SNC-Lavalin for $15
Not only did SNC-Lavalin pay a fraction of the value of AECL,
which many experts described as a fire sale price, the government
also gave SNC-Lavalin $75 million to complete development of a
new reactor called Enhanced CANDU 6. At the time of the sale the
yearly earnings of AECL were approximately $500 million. Even if
the considerable assets built up by AECL are not taken into
account, it is the height of hypocrisy to deny that this was a
gift by the Harper government to SNC-Lavalin.
The positions of the unions representing AECL workers
strongly against this action precisely because it meant the loss
of thousands of jobs, not just in the Crown corporation but many
other thousands of jobs among the corporation's suppliers.
Michael Ivanco, Vice-President of the Society of Professional
Engineers and Associates, stated at the time that the sale would
result in a "hollowed out company," and could cost thousands more
jobs among the corporation's suppliers. "It may contribute to
brain drain not seen since the Avro Arrow, as engineers,
scientists and others evaluate their long term careers with the
company," Mr. Ivanco declared. "We are shocked and angry that the
Harper government conducted this sale behind closed doors without
any input from the Canadian public or Parliament. They jammed
legislation through the budget that gave cabinet the right to
make decisions instead of Parliament and now we see the results,"
he added. The union also pointed out that close to 800 jobs were
jeopardized by the SNC-Lavalin takeover.
It was well known that many reactors built by AECL were
need of refurbishing at that time. The Harper government used the
opportunity to destroy AECL and take the nuclear industry out of
public control, following which SNC Lavalin signed billions of
dollars worth of contracts to refurbish reactors in Canada and
internationally. A scam is a scam, legal or not.
Nuclear scientists hold
information picket to defend Canada's nuclear expertise against
privatization, Chalk River Laboratories, September 9, 2014.
TML Daily wrote on January 24, 2014:
"The privatization of AECL is damaging for the national
economy now and in the future. It has resulted in the loss of
close to one thousand jobs and the potential loss of thousands of
jobs in the future. It has taken a very important technology, the
secure development of nuclear energy, out of the public domain
and handed it to a monopoly corporation which will take advantage
of the needs of the whole society for electrical energy. Nuclear
energy clearly impacts on the health, safety and well-being of
all Canadians and must never be allowed to be the private domain
of a monopoly corporation whose only interest is maximum profit.
The Harper government has even chosen to ignore the fact that
SNC-Lavalin has been embroiled in allegations and findings of
irregular payments to public officials, misconduct, corruption
and bribery in projects in Canada and other parts of the
AECL's dismantling was all achieved through legal
including legislative changes so that Canada can say it abides by
the rule of law. The Trudeau government has continued the same policy
of destroying public control over the
building and operation of public infrastructure, which is the
overwhelming consideration in all these decisions and has
nothing to do with "protecting jobs."
The current turmoil around SNC-Lavalin's corruption
reminds us that it is workers in Quebec and Canada who pay
the price for corporate and state corruption.
The case of SNC-Lavalin and the Charbonneau Commission
still fresh in peoples' minds. This commission was set up in 2011
by the Liberal government of Jean Charest, after years of
refusal to publicly discuss corruption involving large
construction and engineering companies in connection with the
financing of political parties. The official mandate of the
Charbonneau Commission was to eradicate collusion and corruption
in the awarding of public contracts in construction, to reveal
the possible links between this corruption and the financing of
political parties and the possible infiltration of the
construction industry by organized crime.
The corrupt activities of SNC-Lavalin, the largest
engineering and construction management company in Canada, were at
the centre of the Charbonneau Commission. Two aspects in
particular were noted by the Commission.
The first is the illegal financing by SNC-Lavalin of
municipal political parties (Union Montréal) and Quebec parties
(especially the Liberal Party, but also the Parti
exchange for contracts from the City of Montreal and Quebec
government ministries. The law prohibits businesses (and unions) from
contributions to Quebec political parties.
All kinds of illegal tactics have been used by
SNC-Lavalin to circumvent this law, including having dozens of its
executives issue personal cheques to political parties, while the money
actually came from the company itself, as the company reimbursed its
executives with "bonuses" at the end of the year.
The Commission has estimated that from 1998 to 2010,
more than $1 million was illegally paid by SNC-Lavalin to the two
main Quebec political parties of the day. It was also revealed
during the hearings that SNC-Lavalin illegally provided $200,000
to the Union Montréal party to help it win the 2005 Montreal
municipal election. The company did so by paying a fake bill from
Union Montréal and by providing money in cash to the Montreal
party fundraiser. All this was done under the pretext that it was
"the price to pay for doing business" and that SNC-Lavalin had to
remain in the "market" for public contracts.
Document compiled by the Charbonneau Commission shows the money
SNC-Lavalin allegedly handed over to political parties.
The second case is the scandal of the McGill University
Health Centre (MUHC). The Commission disclosed the scheme by which
SNC-Lavalin paid bribes of $22.5 million to two senior MUHC officials
to win the $1.34 billion contract in 2010 for the new university
hospital, a public-private partnership (P3). The illegal monies were
paid to the two senior officials of the health centre through false
companies set up by them. One of the MUHC officials, Arthur Porter, by
the most wonderful coincidence, was made Chairman of the Security
Intelligence Review Committee by Prime Minister Stephen Harper also in
2010. The MUHC case has been characterized at hearings as the largest
corruption fraud in Canadian history. It should be noted that all the
so-called ethical rules surrounding the granting of public
infrastructure projects in public private partnerships have not
prevented this fraud.
SNC-Lavalin has not been prohibited from participating
consortia of private companies that bid on public infrastructure
projects and this case was not used as the opportunity to
reassess P3 projects that naturally lend
corruption and fraud involving private interests and their
political representatives. It should also be noted that
SNC-Lavalin, which obtained the construction contract for the new
Champlain Bridge, is known for its attacks on the health and
safety of construction workers and, by extension, of the public.
Construction workers have had to constantly fight the
company's violation of safety standards, particularly with regard
to crane operation, to which the government has turned a blind eye.
This is a clear cut case of corruption
and collusion between SNC-Lavalin and the state but the
Charbonneau Commission did not consider an investigation of these
activities to be within its mandate.
Workers Attacked in the Name of the Fight Against
Yves Ouellet (at mic), then-president of FTQ Construction, defended the
struggles of construction workers against the Charbonneau Commission's
slanders that workers were using intimidation akin to corruption and
organized crime. The intention of this slander was to divert attention
from who is responsible for corruption and organized crime -- not the
workers but the collusion between governments and the big construction
In its assessment of the events addressed,
Charbonneau Commission extended the concept of corruption and
organized crime to workers' collectives and their allied
organizations that carry out concerted action to defend workers'
rights, which sometimes leads to the disruption of construction
site activities. The Commission insinuated that these
actions were similar to mafia activities. The Commission made
this assertion without even considering the purpose and reasons
for which the organized workers took these actions, the cause
they were defending and the result they sought to achieve. "Corruption"
has been equated with restricting the
so-called free market, the right of companies to operate sites as
they see fit, in pursuit of private profit, even if the health and
safety of workers and the public is threatened. In the voluminous
report of the Charbonneau Commission, not a single page
reveals the collusion between the government/public
authority and companies like SNC-Lavalin from the point of view
of the violation of the rights of workers and their health and
On the contrary, it is the workers and their defence
organizations that are accused of corruption and of activities
akin to those of organized crime, which the Commission calls
intimidation and collusion between workers.
That is why, in its recommendations, the Charbonneau
Commission proposed an amendment to the Act respecting labour
relations, vocational training and workforce management in the
construction industry (R-20 legislation). The amendment
changes the wording of the law from reference to the use of
"intimidation or threats to cause an obstruction" to
"intimidation or threats likely to cause an obstruction" and
anyone found guilty would be subject to huge
fines. The Charbonneau Commission also recommended that any union
representative found guilty
of violating these provisions would be prohibited from
representing the workers for five years. The Quebec government
was only too happy to implement this recommendation.
This is one of the ways that workers and their
pay the price for corruption between big business and the
During the Charbonneau Commission, the illegal
of political parties by SNC-Lavalin and others was the subject of
lengthy testimony. The Commission examined every detail and those
details revealed the extent of the illegal funding. And yet, no
representative of SNC-Lavalin or of other companies has been
prosecuted for this illegal financing of the parties in Quebec.
None of the targeted parties or their candidates who solicited or
accepted these illegal donations has been charged or disciplined
or prevented from running for election.
The illegal financing of political parties in Quebec
instead been used to further increase state control of political
parties to make them appendages of the state.
On June 10, 2016, the National Assembly unanimously
Bill 101, an Act to give effect to the Charbonneau Commission
recommendations on political financing. This law claims to
address the serious problem of corruption in the party system
that was revealed by the Charbonneau Commission. It claims to do
so by establishing mechanisms by which citizens can hold elected
officials to account.
But the opposite is the case. The "fight against
expressed in this law subjects the activities of political
parties to state control and gives increased police powers to the
Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec (DGEQ), allowing him to
interfere in the affairs of political parties, to make life more
difficult for political parties, especially emerging parties, and
to institutionalize the intimidation of individuals who want to
participate in politics.
By way of example, in the name of "countering false
volunteering," the law has added control measures
whereby parties must ensure that volunteer work is done without
compensation or other reward. From now on, official
representatives, delegates, official agents and deputies must
undergo training prepared by the DGEQ within a prescribed
timeline. In the name of accountability, financial reports and
expense returns must be signed by the party leader, candidate,
deputy or, as applicable, the highest ranking official
designated by the party. These must also be accompanied by a
declaration on the rules regarding financing and election
expenses. The Act also makes it a criminal offence for electors
to make a false declaration regarding a loan or surety. Such an
offence is considered a corrupt electoral practice. In the wake
of this legislation, harassment of donors has increased,
sometimes even with visits to their homes, which is very
intimidating for ordinary people who want to participate in
political affairs by making a donation to a party. The
Charbonneau Commission even recommended that the donor must
indicate on the contribution slip the name of his or her
employer, a most intimidating measure. The government
incorporated this measure into the bill and then withdrew it in
the face of opposition from voters. These are police measures
that have nothing to do with the mobilization of voters in
politics, according to their conscience, to solve the problems of
society in favour of the people.
Making political parties appendages of the state does
not solve the problem of corruption that occurs at the highest level,
with the usurpation of the power of the state and governments by global
private interests. The ruling elite itself corrupts all organs of state
power and government institutions so that only police powers remain. It
is only the struggle of the workers and people for the democratic
renewal of institutions by vesting power in the people that can get rid
While workers, including construction workers and their
unions, pay the price for corporate and state
Lavalin and its top executives fare very well before the courts
when they do face charges.
The best-known case is that
of Pierre Duhaime, who was
CEO of SNC-Lavalin at the time of the McGill University Health
Centre (MUHC) corruption scandal. SNC-Lavalin paid $22.5 million
in bribes to two leading MUHC officials to win the $1.34 billion
contract for the public-private partnership construction of the
new university hospital in 2010. The bribes were paid to these
two MUHC executives through companies registered to them. During
the hearings of the Charbonneau Commission, this scheme was
described as the biggest corruption fraud in Canadian
There were 15 charges originally lodged against
SNC-Lavalin's former CEO by the Quebec Director of Criminal and Penal
Prosecutions, including fraud and corruption. On February 1, right in
the middle of the SNC imbroglio, Duhaime accepted a plea deal in which
14 of the charges were dropped. He pleaded guilty only to a charge of
breach of trust by not intervening when he was aware that a criminal
act was being committed, namely assisting the former Deputy Director
General of the MUHC to rig the tender so that SNC-Lavalin was awarded
the contract over a competing consortium. In return for the tender
awarded to SNC-Lavalin, bribes were paid to the two MUHC officials.
Pierre Duhaime was not sentenced to jail, but to 20
house arrest which he will serve in his luxury home, with
increasingly flexible conditions over the 20 months, and one
year's probation. He will also have to do 240 hours of community
service and make a $200,000 donation to the Centre for Victims of
In July 2018, also in connection with the MUHC's
scandal, former vice-president of SNC-Lavalin's construction
division, Riadh Ben Aissa, was convicted on a reduced charge of
using false documents. Fifteen other charges against him were
dropped. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison. He only spent
one day in prison because the court included in the 51 months'
detention the months he had already spent in jail in Switzerland
on another charge related to bribes paid by SNC-Lavalin to Libyan
officials during the early 2000s.
Also, the same month, SNC-Lavalin's financial
Stéphane Roy, was acquitted on two counts of fraud and the use
false documents related to the same case, after the prosecution
simply announced that it would not present any evidence against
Finally, for now, in February a former SNC-Lavalin
executive and his lawyer obtained a stay of proceedings on
charges of attempting to bribe a witness. Sami Abdellah Bebawi
and his attorney, Constantine Kyres, had been charged with
attempting to bribe Riadh Ben Aissa to change his testimony
regarding crimes that SNC-Lavalin was alleged to have committed
in Libya. The stay of proceedings was decided in accordance with
the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Jordan decision, according to
which the length of judicial proceedings must not exceed two and
a half years in the Superior Court, except in exceptional
circumstances. The two men were charged in 2014.
In November 2018 another former vice-president of
SNC-Lavalin, Normand Morin, pleaded guilty to two of five charges
relating to illegal contributions to two federal political
parties, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, between
2004 and 2011. SNC-Lavalin created a "straw man" scheme whereby
employees contributed to the parties and were reimbursed by the
company. The fraudulent manoeuvre brought in about $117,000 to
these two parties. The Crown dropped the remaining three charges.
Morin was fined $2,000. Since the former executive, who asserted he was
a scapegoat in this case, had pleaded
guilty before the case went to trial, and as he was the only
accused in the case, others having escaped prosecution through a
2016 settlement agreement worked out with Elections Canada, the
prosecution stops there and we will never know which
constituencies, which candidates or which party leadership candidates
received donations from SNC-Lavalin. The guilty plea concludes
the investigation by the Commissioner of Elections Canada into
SNC-Lavalin. The engineering firm itself admitted to the
Commissioner that it had made illegal contributions, but it did
so without penalty through the 2016 settlement agreement with
Elections Canada. The amounts received illegally were remitted to
the federal authorities by the political parties concerned.
SNC-Lavalin has always maintained that the corrupt acts
were committed by isolated individuals who are no longer part of the
organization. The facts over the years reveal systemic corruption
involving state and government officials and the courts, including less
than vigorous prosecution, dropped charges and light sentences.
Press on the Sponsorship Scandal
the interest of Parliament, the media, and the nation was held by the
Gomery Inquiry into what became known as the 'sponsorship scandal.' By
May, the impact of the scandal nearly brought down the minority Liberal
government on a non-confidence vote held on the budget. In November,
when the first Gomery Report was released, the parliamentary opposition
coalesced to force the minority Liberal government into a general
election. On January 23, 2006, the election results provided evidence
of how voters may have viewed the scandal when the Liberal Party lost
"Until the issue hit the
front pages in early 2004, the federal government sponsorship program
had been in operation quietly, but not altogether anonymously, since
1994. Under intensifying media coverage and in tandem with two critical
reports from the Auditor General, the program slowly evolved into one
of the most prominent and extensive political scandals till then in
Canada. The program's tentacles reached as high as the Prime Minister's
Office and included the Liberal Party, two former prime ministers,
ministers of the Crown, Quebec advertising agencies, and Justice
Gomery himself. While under investigation by the Gomery Commission, the
program was the subject of an RCMP inquiry and criminal prosecutions
for fraud." - Kirsten Kozolanka, Canadian Journal of
A beleaguered Paul Martin addressed the country
evening to plead with Canadians to consider him an honourable man.
His notion of claiming responsibility was to repeat that he is in
no way implicated in the "wrong-doing" associated with the
sponsorship scandal and those who were will be punished. Martin
referred to his actions of closing down the Canada Information
Office and subsequently Communications Canada as his first act on
assuming the leadership of the Liberal Party and becoming the de
facto Prime Minister of Canada. These are proof of his
he said. We should presumably forget the statement by his Finance
Minister Ralph Goodale at the time that they were being closed
down: "I think we have come to the conclusion that [the
sponsorship program] ... has outlived its usefulness and it's
time to move on."
To further prove that he is an honourable man, Martin
his establishment of the Gomery Inquiry, the recall of Alfonso
Gagliano from Denmark and other such actions. For good measure,
he told his audience that he, who cut his milk teeth on his
father's lap in the very same Parliament buildings, could not
possibly do anything to tarnish its reputation.
Leaving aside the fact that Jean Chrétien
himself went to
great lengths to honour his own political legacy to cover up the
scandal he created, Martin's claims convince only the most
politically naive that he is taking responsibility. On the
contrary, these actions are widely perceived as an attempt at
damage control. Now, not only has this system of damage control
completely unravelled, but it is taking on a life of its own. In
spite of this, Martin continues to believe he is still in damage
control mode. It is a miscalculation which more likely than not
will sooner or later end his political career.
Far from still being in damage control mode, everyone
the "Heidi Fleiss List" -- the names of the "lawyers, engineers
or accountants from major firms" referred to by Benoit Corbeil,
the former director-general of the Liberal Party's office in
Montreal, to say nothing about "many of the lawyers who have
since been named to the bench." All of them will yet rue the day
that Canada's inbred political caste is so small.
Furthermore, the problems facing Martin and the Liberal
presumably don't end there either. What will be the response of
Elections Canada when the extent of the corruption of its much
touted system of "free and fair elections" finally sees the light
of day? Will it apply the letter of the law and disqualify all
the Quebec candidates of the Liberal Party from ever running
again? What of those who got elected in Quebec in the 2000
election? Will all of them lose their right to ever run again or
even vote? When even a humble independent candidate who doesn't
submit her or his returns on time faces such draconian measures,
what is to be made of a Liberal Party which hides its financial
activities from Elections Canada? Stating in an interview that
funds from the sponsorship program were funnelled back to senior
members of the Liberal Party, Corbeil said: "I took the bills
[from Jean Brault of Groupaction Marketing] and with that, I paid
people, without declaring it [to Elections Canada]."
What about the $1.75 cents per vote the Liberals
gleaned as a
result of Chrétien's reform to election financing laws? Will the
Liberal Party pay all that money back to the federal treasury as
well, besides all the sponsorship funds the Bloc
demanding be immediately be put into a public trust pending the
outcome of the Gomery Inquiry?
The revelations coming out of the Gomery Inquiry
that the Liberal Party will do more to bring down the grand
illusion that elections are free and fair in Canada than anything
hitherto seen by Canadians.
The Gomery Commission was established on February 19,
by the Liberal Cabinet led by the Prime Minister of the day, Paul
Martin. The scope of the inquiry was set as follows:
a) to investigate and report on questions raised,
indirectly...in the November 2003 Report of the Auditor General
of Canada... with regard to the sponsorship program and
advertising activities of the Government of Canada, including:
i) the creation of the sponsorship program;
ii) selection of
communications and advertising agencies;
iii) management of the
iv) receipt and use of any funds or commissions disbursed; and
v) any other circumstances related to the program considered
relevant to fulfilling the mandate.
Speaking to the illusion making about the Gomery
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC) wrote:
"... there is one key issue at the root of the
scandal -- the party dominated system of representative democracy,
the electoral laws designed to elect a political party and to
disempower the people and their fanatic need for money to make it
happen. Why a political party in Canada was allegedly involved in
stealing funds from the public purse and funnelling them into its
election campaign coffers is going to be completely detached from
the issue of the political system in which masses of people are
treated as mere voting-cattle. The issue is not going to be
touched upon at all by the Gomery Inquiry or by the Public
Accounts committee looking into the same scandal."
The developments reveal that this central issue to the
sponsorship scandal was indeed completely overlooked/disregarded
by the Gomery Commission of Inquiry and the government. In fact,
neither the Gomery Inquiry nor the Harper government took up the
issue of political accountability. The Gomery Inquiry identified
the problem of accountability in administration generally
(defining responsibilities) and more specifically partisan
interference in terms of the administration of programs by the
public service and, to an extent, in the ability of Parliamentary
Committees to hold government accountable.
The problem of political interference/partisanship was
attributed to certain individuals whose conduct was wrong. On
this and the other issues identified, administrative measures
were proposed to deal with the problem. The assumption was that,
if implemented, they would restore accountability of government
to parliament and parliament to society.
In the preamble to Restoring Accountability, Justice
sketches the framework of accountability that the parliamentary
system brings to the Canadian democracy.
It goes like this:
The principle of the supremacy of Parliament
Parliament as the body that creates the laws that give powers to
Ministers and the rest of the executive, and the body to which
the executive must be accountable.
Parliament through statutes and budgetary processes,
powers and resources to the Government.
The government administers these powers and resources,
Parliament holds Government accountable for its stewardship.
Ministers and the Public Service form the executive
government. The executive branch derives its powers and its
authority from Parliament and, in turn, is accountable to
Parliament and, through Parliament, to the people of Canada.
The principle of ministerial responsibility identifies
members of Cabinet, collectively and individually, as the persons
at the head of the executive branch who hold broad responsibility
and exercise the power to govern.
The principle of rule of law provides an overarching
framework that both enables and limits the actions of the
"Parliament is the central forum in which the
held directly to account for both policy and administration.
Ministers are accountable collectively to Parliament for policy
and for the Government's actions or failures to act, and they are
ultimately accountable to the people of Canada through general
"Parliament holds Government accountable in two ways.
it holds the Cabinet collectively accountable for its policies,
for its responses to the challenges facing the nation and its
stewardship of the public sector and the business of governing
the nation. Second it holds the Government accountable for the
way it has used the powers and resources that Parliament has
granted it. This accountability applies to administration, not
policy, and it must be directed to those who hold responsibility
Position of the MLPC
The MLPC wrote: "A fundamental problem with this
that the conception of accountability is detached from where the
sovereign power is vested and whose interests it protects. So
long as the historic need to vest the sovereign power in the
citizenry is not addressed, the problem of accountability cannot
be sorted out."
In A Power to Share, published in 1993, the
National Leader Hardial Bains discussed among other things, how
the problem of accountability poses itself within the Canadian
system of government.
"... the problem is that under the circumstances in
people are deprived of sovereign power and of a mechanism through
which to exercise it, they are not able to freely choose who
governs on their behalf. Political parties have virtually
exclusive jurisdiction over this matter.
"In fact, there is no mechanism to make the elected
representatives or the government accountable to the electorate.
The only recourse provided to the citizenry is to vote an
unpopular government out of office at the next election. It is
interesting that both transparency and accountability serve their
purpose when they divert attention from the fact that it is in
all cases the government which commands the process. They are
merely part of the tinsel and tassels with which the executive
power wraps itself to cover up the fact that it is the sole
"All of these means are used to ensure that the
deprived of its right to participate in governing society.
"These jurisdictions are getting increasingly
into absolute powers through the reforms which are being enacted.
Those with access to political power still need a method to sort
out the contradictions in their own ranks and keep the people out
of government. The word democracy has come to mean using
democratic forms to achieve what are actually undemocratic ends.
The democratic form is becoming a mere remnant of democracy, and
it is increasingly becoming synonymous with the set of laws which
sanction the rule of political elites. This is justified by
evoking various terms, including precedent, traditions, evolving
institutions, democracy as we know it and various others.
"The character of supreme power and its origins is not
separate from the character of the government and the interests
it serves. The two are inter-related. The political process or
political system facilitates the wishes of the supreme power. If
the political process remains the same and if the only changes
concern the extension of the franchise, the manner of counting
votes and the reform of parliamentary procedures, supreme power
will continue to remain alienated from the citizenry."
On the basis of this analysis, the MLPC adopted the
For Us, Accountability Begins at Home. At its centre is the
recognition that when society is being held back and every avenue
to solving its problems is obstructed, the working class and
people take up their own social responsibility to change the
The MLPC wrote: "Today, as the anti-social offensive
drive to embroil Canada in the aggressive wars led by U.S.
imperialism are stepped up, the problem that the people cannot
hold the government to account becomes increasingly evident and
urgent. So long as Canadians do not participate in setting
government agendas and are, on the contrary, at the mercy of
whatever self-serving agendas the government, political parties
and the media set, the problem of accountability will continue to
plague the polity. Thus, the most important question which has
emerged is who wields political power -- where the decision-making
power is vested. While the question of power involves a
myriad of elements, the cutting edge of the people's struggle for
empowerment is to build the organizations through which they can
put themselves into positions of influence by taking stands that
defend the rights of the people and, on this basis, open
society's door to progress and advance the cause of peace and
human rights. This is the only way people can avert the dangers
which those in power today are preparing. The program of the MLPC
is to bring forward worker politicians and people's
representatives to elect and be elected to form a Workers'
Opposition in the Parliament. A Workers' Opposition can then go
further and create an anti-war government which responds to the
needs of the people at home and abroad."
Making About the Gomery Inquiry," Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada,
August 16, 2005.
2. Gomery Commission of Inquiry
into the Sponsorship Program
and Advertising Activities, Part II: Restoring Accountability:
3. Bains, Hardial, A Power to
Share: A Modern Definition of
the Political Process and a Case for Its Democratic Renewal,
(1993), pp. 32-34.
The Federal Accountability Act was the
of the electoral campaign of the Conservative Party in the 2006
elections. It was presented as the means of ensuring
"accountability and change" and overcoming the corruption of the
previous Liberal governing party. It was presented as both a
response to the Gomery Inquiry and a means of addressing aspects
of the problem which were said to be beyond the purview of the
Gomery Inquiry. The Act and the Action Plan were described as
"anti-corruption legislation" and as "turning a new leaf" and
"cleaning up government."
In introducing the Bill,
then Prime Minister Stephen
said: "With the Federal
Accountability Act, we are creating a new
culture of accountability that will change forever the way
business is done in Ottawa." John Baird, President of the
Treasury Board who tabled the legislation on behalf of the
government, said: "Accountability is the foundation on which
Canada's system of responsible government rests. It is key to
assuring Parliament and Canadians that the Government of Canada
is using public resources efficiently and effectively, and that
it answers for its actions."
What then is the government's conception of
Following the 2006 election, the Marxist-Leninist Party
Canada (MLPC) pointed out:
"To find out what Harper means by change and
Canadians will have to study how he is intervening in the
situation. He has already said his first act in government will
be the Federal Accountability Act. From what we have seen
thus far of Harper's views of accountability, it does not include
taking up social responsibility. It is the same notion as that of
Paul Martin. Harper will likely introduce new rules and
regulations and what are called oversight procedures, but none of
this will deal with why the corruption or conflicts of interest
occur or even properly identify what constitutes corruption or
conflicts of interest."
Facts have borne out this prediction.
The conception of accountability in the Federal
Accountability Act and Action Plan that goes along with it is
that accountability is ensured by oversight -- by spelling out
rules to catch wrongdoers. This conception is not fundamentally
different to that of the two previous accountability initiatives,
the first by the Liberal government under Jean Chrétien in May
2002, and the second by the Liberal government of Paul Martin.
Neither initiative stopped the corruption or the conflicts of
The May 2002 initiative included an 8 point action
with new guidelines, a new appointment procedure for the Ethics
Counsellor, a Lobbyist Registration
Act, a Code of Conduct for
MPs and Senators, limits on political contributions and
regulation of leadership contests.
Paul Martin's government had its own
initiatives including the appointment of Justice Gomery's
TML Daily pointed out: "In this regard, the
of accountability by both the Liberals and Conservatives endorsed
by all the parties which held seats in the House of Commons
speaks of 'tougher laws' and strict guidelines. Its scope is
purely administrative, not political and its effect is to
criminalize individuals for 'wrongdoing.' The deliberation on the
criteria used to establish wrongdoing is rushed and uncertain and
seems to be quite arbitrarily determined. In the opinion of the
MLPC, the entire process and decisions taken as a result of this
process undermine the underlying premises of the system of
responsible government. The resultant incoherence is causing
greater and greater problems for the political parties themselves
which are controlling this process, to say nothing about the
damage to the polity. As a result, far from resolving the
problems of corruption and conflicts of interest, the interparty
and intraparty fights are increasing along with corruption and
conflicts of interest. The result is the deepening crisis of the
party system of government, and increasing loss of confidence of
Canadians in political parties, the Parliament and the democracy
and unfettered imposition of secret agendas which are
increasingly subordinating the Canadian economy to the United
States of North American Monopolies and the Canadian state to the
U.S. state and embroiling Canada in the U.S. imperialist striving
for world domination."
1. The Harper
government introduced the Federal Accountability Act to
Parliament on April 11, 2006 right after the federal election
which brought the Harper minority government to power. Even
though the Federal Accountability Act was a massive bill,
some 250 pages long, Canadians knew practically nothing about it.
It changed more than 60 pieces of legislation, and included
within it several new whole statutes, such as the Conflict of
Interest Act. It expanded the scope of the Access to
Information Act to cover seventeen new organizations, seven
agencies and four foundations. It tabled the amendments proposed
by the Information Commissioner while also tabling a discussion
paper on information access. It was announced together with an
Action Plan with measures the government could introduce
immediately without parliamentary approval. As such, the Action
Plan was implemented immediately.
2."Bill C-2, the Federal
Accountability Act: Brief of the
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada to the Senate Standing Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, September 7, 2006," TML
Daily, September 8, 2006, No. 128.
3. "39th General Election:
Significance of the Election
Results," TML Daily, January 30, 2006, No. 4.
Gilakas'la. Thank you Mr. Chair and thank you to the
members of the Justice Committee for providing me with the opportunity
for extended testimony today. I very much appreciate it. And
starting off, I would like to acknowledge the territory, the ancestral
lands of the Algonquin people.
For a period of
approximately four months between September and December 2018, I
experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the
government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of
prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada
in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement
[DPA] with SNC-Lavalin. These events involved 11 people (excluding
myself and my political staff) from the Prime Minister's Office, the
Privy Council Office, and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This
included in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails, and text
messages. There were approximately 10 phone calls and 10 meetings
specifically about SNC and I or a part of my staff were a part of these
Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the
necessity of interference in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential for
consequences, and veiled threats if a DPA was not made available to
SNC. These conversations culminated on December 19, 2018 with a
conversation I had with the Clerk of the Privy Council -- a
conversation that I will provide some significant detail on.
A few weeks later, on January 7, 2019, I was informed by the Prime
Minister that I was being shuffled out of the role of Minister of
Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
For most of these conversations, I made contemporaneous notes, detailed
notes, in addition to my clear memory, which I am relying on today
among other documentation.
My goal in my testimony is to outline the details of
these communications for the Committee and indeed all Canadians.
However, before doing that, let me make a couple of comments.
First, I want to thank Canadians for their patience
since the February 7 story which broke in the Globe and Mail. Thank you as well
especially to those who have reached out to me from across the country.
I appreciate the messages and I have read them all.
Secondly, on the role of the Attorney General. The Attorney
General exercises prosecutorial discretion as provided for under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act.
has authority to issue
directives to the DPP on specific prosecutions or to take over
It is well-established that the Attorney General exercises
prosecutorial discretion. She or he does so individually and
independently. These are not Cabinet decisions.
I will say that it is appropriate for Cabinet colleagues to draw to the
Attorney General's attention what they see as important policy
considerations that are relevant to decisions about how a prosecution
will proceed. What is not appropriate is pressing the Attorney General
on matters that she or he cannot take into account, such as partisan
political considerations; continuing to urge the Attorney General to
change her or his mind for months after the decision has been made; or
suggesting that a collision with the Prime Minister on these matters
should be avoided.
With that said, the remainder of my testimony will be a detailed and
factual delineation of the approximately 10 phone calls, 10 in-person
meetings, and emails and text messages that were part of an effort to
politically interfere regarding the SNC matter for the purposes of
securing a Deferred Prosecution.
The story begins on September 4, 2018. My COS [Chief of Staff] and I
were overseas when I was sent a 'Memorandum for the Attorney General
(pursuant to section 13 of the Director
Act) which was entitled 'Whether to issue
an invitation to negotiate a remediation agreement to SNC Lavalin'
which was prepared by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kathleen
Roussel. The only parts of this note that I will disclose are as
follows: "the DPP is of the view that an invitation to negotiate will
not be made in this case and that no announcement will be made by the
PPSC [Public Prosecution Service of Canada]." As with all section 13
notices -- the Director provides the information so that the Attorney
General may take such course of action as they deem appropriate.
In other words, the Director had made her decision to not negotiate a
remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
I subsequently spoke to my Minister's office staff about
this decision and I did the standard practice of undertaking further
internal work and due diligence in relation to this note, a practice
that I have had for many of the section 13 notices that I received when
I was the Attorney General. In other words, I immediately put in
motion, with my Department and Minister's office, a careful
consideration and study of the matter.
Two days later, on September 6, one of the first communications
about the DPA was received from outside of my department. Ben Chin,
Minister Morneau's Chief of Staff, e-mailed my Chief of Staff and they
arranged to talk. He wanted to talk about SNC and what we could do, if
anything, to address this. He said to her, my Chief, that if they don't
get a DPA, they will leave Montreal, and it's the Quebec election right
now, so we can't have that happen. He said that they have a big meeting
coming up on Tuesday and that this bad news may go public.
This same day my Chief of Staff exchanged some emails with my MO Staff
[Francois Giroux and Emma Carver] about this, who advised her that the
Deputy Attorney General -- Nathalie Drouin -- was working on something
(they had spoken to her about the issue), and that my staff [Emma
Carver and Gregoire Webber] were drafting a memo as well on the role of
the AG vis à vis the
It was on or about this day that I requested a one-on-one meeting with
the Prime Minister on another matter of urgency and as soon as
possible after I got back into the country. This request would
ultimately become the meeting on September 17 between myself and
the Prime Minister that has widely been reported in the media.
On September 7, my Chief of Staff spoke by phone with my then Deputy
Minister about the call she had received from Ben Chin and the Deputy
stated that the Department was working on this. The Deputy gave my
Chief a quick rundown of what she thought some options might be (e.g.,
informally call Kathleen Roussel, set up an external review of their
decision, etc.). On the same day I received a note from my staff -- on
the role of the AG -- a note that was also shared with Elder Marques
and Amy Archer at the PMO.
Same day, staff in my office met with the Deputy Minister. Some
excerpts of the section 13 note were read to the Deputy Minister, but
the Deputy Minister did not want to be provided with a copy of the
section 13 note.
September 8 -- my Deputy shared a draft note on the role of the AG with
my Chief of Staff who shared it with me, and over the next day clarity
was sought by my staff with the Deputy on aspects of an option that was
in her note.
A follow-up conversation between Ben Chin and a member of my staff (FG)
occurred on September 11, Mr. Chin said that SNC has been informed by
the PPSC that it cannot enter into a DPA -- and Ben again detailed the
reasons why they were told they were not getting a DPA. Mr. Chin also
noted that SNC's legal counsel was Frank Iacobucci, and further
detailed what the terms were that SNC was prepared to agree to --
stating that they viewed this as a negotiation.
To be clear, up to this point I had not been directly
contacted by the Prime Minister, officials in the Prime Minister's
Office or the Privy Council Office about this matter. With the
exception of Mr. Chin's discussions, the focus of communications had
been internal to the Department of Justice.
This changes on September 16. My Chief of Staff had a phone call with
Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques from the Prime Minister's Office.
They wanted to discuss SNC. They told her that SNC have made further
submissions to the Crown, and that "there is some softening, but not
much." They said that they understood that the individual Crown
prosecutor wants to negotiate an agreement but the Director does not.
They said that they understand that there are limits on what can be
done, and that they can't direct, but that they hear that our Deputy
(of Justice) thinks we can get the PPSC to say "we think we should get
some outside advice on this." They said that they think we should be
able to find "a more reasonable resolution" here. They told her that
SNC's next board meeting is on Thursday, which was September 20. They
also mentioned the Quebec election context. They asked my Chief if
someone had suggested the outside advice idea to the PPSC, and asked
whether or not we were open to this suggestion. They wanted to know if
my Deputy could do it.
In response, my Chief of Staff stressed to them prosecutorial
independence and potential concerns about interference in the
independence of the prosecutorial functions. Mr. Bouchard and Mr.
Marques kept telling her that they didn't want to cross any lines --
but they asked my Chief of Staff to follow up with me directly on this
To be clear, I was fully aware of the conversations between September 4
and 16 that I have outlined. I had been regularly briefed by my staff
from the moment this matter first arose and had also reviewed all
materials that had been produced.
Further, my view had also formed at this point through the work of my
Department, my Minister's office and work I had conducted on my own,
that it was inappropriate for me to intervene in the decision of the
Director of Public Prosecutions in this case and pursue a Deferred
In the course of reaching this view, I discussed the matter on a number
of occasions with my then Deputy so that she was aware of my view,
raised concerns on a number of occasions with my Deputy Minister about
the appropriateness of communications we were receiving from outside
the Department, and also raised concerns about some of the options she
had been suggesting.
On September 17 the Deputy Minister said that Finance had told her
that they want to make sure that Kathleen "understands the impact" if
we do nothing in this case. Given the many potential concerns raised by
this conversation, I discussed this later with my Deputy.
This same day, (September 17), I had my one-on-one with the Prime
Minister that I requested a couple weeks ago. When I walked in, the
Clerk of the Privy Council was in attendance as well.
While the meeting was not about the issue of SNC and DPA's, the Prime
Minister raised the issue immediately.
The Prime Minister asked me to help out, to find a solution here for
SNC -- citing that if there was no DPA, there would be many jobs lost
and that SNC will move from Montreal.
In response, I explained to him the law and what I have the ability to
do and not do under the Director of
Public Prosecutions Act around issuing directives or assuming
conduct of prosecutions. I told him that I had done my due diligence
and made up my mind on SNC and that I was not going to interfere with
the decision of the Director.
In response, the Prime Minister reiterated his concerns. I then
explained how this came about and that I had received the section 13
note from the DPP earlier in September and that I had considered the
matter very closely. I further stated that I was very clear on my role
as the AG -- and I am not prepared to issue a directive in this case --
that it was not appropriate.
The Prime Minister again cited potential loss of jobs and SNC moving.
Then to my surprise -- the Clerk started to make the case for the need
to have a DPA -- he said, "there is a board meeting on Thursday,
September 20, with stock holders" ... "they will likely be moving to
London if this happens ... and there is an election in Quebec soon"...
At that point, the Prime Minister jumped in, stressing that there is an
election in Quebec and that "I am an MP in Quebec -- the member for
I was quite taken aback. My response -- and I remember this vividly --
was to ask the PM a direct question while looking him in the eye -- I
asked: "Are you politically interfering with my role / my decision as
the AG? I would strongly advise against it."
The Prime Minister said "No, No, No -- we just need to
find a solution." The Clerk then said that he spoke to my Deputy and
she said that I could speak to the Director.
I responded by saying no I would not -- that would be inappropriate. I
further explained to the Clerk and the Prime Minister that I had a
conversation with my Deputy about options and what my position was on
As a result, I agreed to and undertook to the Prime Minister that I
would have a conversation with my Deputy and the Clerk -- but that
these conversations would not change my mind. I also said that my staff
and my officials are not authorized to speak to the PPSC.
And then we finally discussed the issue that I had asked for the
meeting in the first place.
I left the meeting and immediately debriefed with my staff as to what
was said about SNC and DPA's.
On September 19, I met with the Clerk as I had undertaken to the Prime
Minister. The meeting was one-on-one, in my office.
The Clerk brought up job losses and that this is not
about the Quebec election or the Prime Minister being a Montreal MP. He
said that he has not seen the section 13 note. The Clerk said that he
understands that SNC is going back and forth with the DPP, and that
they want more information. He said that "Iacobucci is not a shrinking
violet." He referenced the September 20 date [presumably a reference to
the shareholder meeting], and that they don't have anything from the
DPP. He said that the Prime Minister is very concerned about the
confines of my role as Attorney General and the Director of Public
Prosecutions. He reported that the Prime Minister is very aware of my
role as the Attorney General of Canada.
I told the Clerk again that I had instructed that my Deputy is not to
get in touch with the Director and that, given my review of the matter,
I would not speak to her directly regarding a DPA. I offered to the
Clerk that, if SNC were to send a letter to me expressing their
concerns -- their public interest argument -- it would be permissible
and I would appropriately forward it directly to the Director of Public
Later that day, my Chief of Staff had a phone call with Elder Marques
and Mathieu Bouchard from the Prime Minister's Office. They wanted an
update on what was going on regarding the DPA's since "we don't have a
ton of time." She relayed my summary of my meeting with the Clerk and
the Prime Minister.
Mathieu and Elder raised the idea of an "informal reach out" to the
DPP. My Chief of Staff said that she knew I was not comfortable with
that, as it looked like and probably did constitute political
interference. They asked whether that was true if it wasn't the
Attorney General herself but if it was her staff or the Deputy
Minister. My Chief of Staff said "yes" it would and offered a call
directly with me. They said that "we will regroup and get back to you
Still on September 19, I spoke to Minister Morneau on this matter
when we were in the House. He again stressed the need to save jobs, and
I told him that engagements from his office to mine on SNC had to stop
-- that they were inappropriate.
They did not stop. On September 20, my Chief of Staff had phone
calls with Mr. Chin and Justin To, both from the Minister of Finance's
office, about DPAs and SNC.
At this point, after September 20, there was an apparent pause in
communicating with myself or my Chief of Staff about the SNC matter. We
did not hear from anyone again until October 18, when Mathieu Bouchard
called my Chief of Staff and asked that we -- I -- look at the option
of my seeking an external legal opinion on the DPP's decision not to
extend an invitation to negotiate a DPA.
This would become a recurring theme for sometime in messages from the
PMO -- that an external review should be done of the DPP's decision.
The next day as well, SNC filed a Federal Court application seeking to
quash the DPP's decision to not enter into a remediation agreement with
In my view, this necessarily put to rest any notion that I might speak
to or intervene with the DPP or that an external review could take
place. The matter was now before the courts, and a judge was being
asked to look at the DPP's discretion.
However, on October 26, 2018 -- when my Chief of Staff spoke to Mathieu
Bouchard and communicated to him now that, given that SNC had now filed
in Federal Court seeking to review the DPP's decision, surely we had
moved past this idea of the Attorney General intervening or getting an
opinion on that same question -- Mathieu replied that he was
still interested in an external legal opinion idea. Could she not get
an external legal opinion on whether the DPP had exercised their
discretion properly, and then on the application itself, the Attorney
General could intervene and seek a stay of proceedings, given that she
was awaiting a legal opinion.
My Chief of Staff said that this would obviously be perceived as
interference and that her boss questioning the DPP's decision. Mathieu
said that if -- six months from the election -- SNC announces 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 get
re-elected." He said that everybody knows that this is the Attorney
General's decision, but that he wants to make sure that all options are
being canvassed. Mathieu said that if, at the end of the day, the
Attorney General is not comfortable, that is fine. He just "doesn't
want any doors to be closed." Jessica, my Chief of Staff, said that I
was always happy to speak to him directly should he wish.
In mid-November, the PMO requested that I meet with Mathieu Bouchard
and Elder Marques to discuss the matter -- which I did on November 22.
This meeting was quite long -- I would say about an hour and a half. I
was irritated by having to have this meeting as I had already told PM
etc. that a DPA on SNC was not going to happen, that I was not going to
issue a directive.
Mathieu at this meeting did most of the talking -- he was trying to
tell me that there were options and that I needed to find a
I took them through the DPP Act, section 15, section 10,
and talked about prosecutorial independence as a constitutional
principle, and that they were interfering. I talked about the section
13 note -- which they said they had never received -- but I reminded
them that we sent it to them in September.
Mathieu and Elder continued to plead their case, talking about if I am
not sure in my decision, that we could hire an eminent person to advise
me. They were "kicking the tires." I said No. My mind had been made up
and they needed to stop. This was enough.
I will briefly pause at this moment to comment at this point on my own
state of mind. In my role as Attorney General, I had received the
decision of the DPP in September, had reviewed the matter, made a
decision on what was appropriate given a DPA, and communicated that to
the Prime Minister. I had also taken additional steps that the Prime
Minister asked me to -- such as meeting with Clerk.
In my view, the communications and efforts to change my mind on this
matter should have stopped. Various officials also urged me to take
partisan political considerations into account -- which it was clearly
improper for me to do. We either have a system that is based on the
rule of law, the independence of the prosecutorial functions, and
respect for those charged to use their discretion and powers in
particular ways -- or we do not. While in our system of government,
policy-oriented discussion amongst people at earlier points in this
conversation may be appropriate, the consistent and enduring efforts,
even in the face of judicial proceedings on the same matter -- and in
the face of a clear decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions and
the Attorney General -- to continue and even intensify such efforts
raises serious red flags in my view.
Yet, this is what continued to happen.
On December 5, 2018, I met with Gerry Butts. We had both sought out
I wanted to speak about a number of things -- including
bringing up SNC and the barrage of people hounding me and my staff.
Towards the end of the meeting, which was in the Chateau Laurier, I
raised how I needed everyone to stop talking to me about SNC as I had
made up my mind and the engagements were inappropriate. Gerry then took
over the conversation and said we need a solution on the SNC stuff --
he said I needed to find a solution. I said no and referenced the
preliminary inquiry and the judicial review. I said further that I gave
the Clerk the only appropriate solution that could have happened and
that was the letter idea that was not taken up.
Gerry said that the statute was a statute passed by
Harper and that he does not like the law [Director of Public Prosecutions Act].
On December 7, I received a letter from the Prime Minister, dated
December 6, attaching a letter from the CEO of SNC-Lavalin dated
October 15. I responded to the Prime Minister's letter on December
6, noting that the matter is before the courts, so I cannot comment on
it, and that the decision re a DPA was one for the DPP, which is
independent of my office.
This brings us to the final events in the chronology, and ones which
signal, in my experience, the final escalation in efforts by the Prime
Minister's Office to interfere in this matter.
On December 18, 2018, my Chief of Staff was urgently summoned to
meet with Gerry Butts and Katie Telford to discuss SNC. They wanted to
know where I am in terms of finding a solution. They told her that they
felt like the issue was getting worse and that I was not doing
anything. They referenced a possible call with the Prime Minister and
the Clerk the next day.
I will now read to you a transcript of the most relevant sections of
the text conversation between my Chief of Staff and I almost
immediately after that meeting:
Jessica: Basically, they
want a solution. Nothing new. They want external counsel retained to
give you an opinion on whether you can review the DPP's decision here
and whether you should in this case. ... I told them that would be
Gerry said "Jess,
there is no solution here that doesn't involve some interference." At
least they are finally being honest about what they are asking you to
do! Don't care about the PPSC's independence. Katie was like "we don't
want to debate legalities anymore." ... They keep being like "we aren't
lawyers, but there has to be some solution here."
MOJAG: So where were
JP: So unclear. I said I
would of course let you know about the conversation and they said they
were going to "kick the tires" with a few more people on this tonight.
The Clerk was waiting outside when I left. But they said they want to
set up a call between you and the Prime Minister and the Clerk
tomorrow. I said that of course you would be happy to speak to your
boss! They seem quite keen on the idea of you retaining an ex Supreme
Court of Canada judge to get advice on this. Katie Telford thinks it
gives us cover in the business community and the legal community, and
that it would allow the Prime Minister to say we are doing something.
She was like "if Jody is nervous, we would of course line up all kinds
of people to write OpEds saying that what she is doing is proper."
On December 19, 2018, I was asked to have a call with the Clerk. It was
a fairly lengthy call and I took the call from home and I was on my own
by myself. Given what had occurred the previous day with my Chief of
Staff, I was determined to end all interference and conversations about
this matter once and for all. Here is part of what the Clerk and I
The Clerk said he was calling about Deferred Prosecution Agreement /
SNC -- he said he wanted to pass on where the Prime Minister is at ...
he spoke about the company's board and the possibility of them selling
out to somebody else, moving their headquarters, and job losses.
He said that the Prime Minister wants to be able to say
that he has tried everything he can within the legitimate toolbox. The
Clerk said that the PM is quite determined, quite firm, but he wants to
know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn't being used.
He said "I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or
another. So, he is in that kind of mood and I wanted you to be aware of
The Clerk said he didn't know if the Prime Minister was planning on
calling me directly or he is thinking about getting somebody else to
give him some advice. You know he does not want to do anything outside
the box of what is legal or proper. He said that the Prime Minister
wants to understand more, to give him advice on this or to give you
advice on this if you want to feel more comfortable you are not doing
anything inappropriate or outside the frame.
I told the Clerk that I was 100 per cent confident that I was doing
nothing inappropriate. I, again, reiterated my confidence in where I am
at and my views on SNC and the DPA have not changed, I reiterate
this is a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.
I warned the Clerk in this call that we were treading on dangerous
ground here -- and I issued a stern warning because, as the Attorney
General, I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a
manner that is not objective, that isn't independent, I cannot act in a
partisan way and I cannot be politically motivated. This all screams of
that. The Clerk wondered whether anyone could speak to the Director
about the context around this or get her to explain her reasonings.
The Clerk told me that he was going to have to report back to the Prime
Minister before he leaves. He said again that the Prime Minister
was in a pretty firm frame of mind about this and that he was a bit
I asked what he was worried about.
The Clerk then made a comment about how it is not good
for the Prime Minister and his Attorney General to be at "loggerheads."
I told the Clerk that I was giving him my best advice
and if he does not accept that advice then it is the Prime Minister's
prerogative to do what he wants, but I am trying to protect the Prime
Minister from political interference or perceived political
interference or otherwise.
The Clerk acknowledged that, but said that the Prime
Minister does not have the power to do what he wants. All the tools are
in my hands, he said.
I said that I was having thoughts of the Saturday Night
Massacre -- but that I was confident that I had given the Prime
Minister my best advice to protect him and to protect the
constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.
The Clerk said that he was worried about a collision
because the Prime Minister is pretty firm about this. He told me that
he had seen the Prime Minister a few hours ago and that this is really
important to him.
That is essentially where the conversation ended and I
did not hear from the Prime Minister the next day.
On January 7, I received a call from the Prime Minister and was
informed I was being shuffled out of my role as Minister of Justice and
Attorney General of Canada. I will not go into details of this
call, or subsequent communications about the shuffle, but I will say
that I stated I believed the reason was because of the SNC matter. They
denied this to be the case.
On January 11, 2019, the Friday before the shuffle, my Deputy Minister
is called by the Clerk and told that the shuffle is happening, and that
she will be getting a new Minister. As part of this conversation, the
Clerk tells the Deputy that one of the first conversations that the new
Minister will be expected to have with the Prime Minister will be on
SNC-Lavalin. In other words, that the new Minister will need to be
prepared to speak to the Prime Minister on this file. The Deputy
recounts this to my Chief of Staff who tells me about the comment.
My narrative stops here. I must reiterate to the Committee my concern
outlined in my letter to the Chair yesterday. That is, Order in Council
#2019-0105 addresses only my time as the Attorney General of Canada and
therefore does nothing to release me from my restrictions that apply to
communications while I proudly served as the Minister of Veterans
Affairs and in relation to my resignation from that post, or my
presentation to Cabinet after I resigned. This time period includes
communications on topics that some members of the Committee have
explored with other witnesses and about which there have been public
statements by others. The Order in Council leaves in place the various
constraints, in particular Cabinet confidence, that there are on my
ability to speak freely about matters that occurred after I left the
post of Attorney General.
Even with those constraints, I hope that through my narrative today,
the Committee, and everyone across the country who's listening, has a
clear idea of what I experienced and what I know of who did what, and
what was communicated.
I hope, and expect, the facts speak for
I imagine Canadians now fully understand that in my view
these events constituted pressure to intervene in a matter, and that
this pressure -- or political interference -- to intervene, was not
appropriate. However, Canadians can judge this for themselves as we all
now have the same frame of information.
Lastly, as I have said previously, "it has always been my view that the
Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in
the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect,
always willing to speak truth to power." In saying this I was
reflecting what I understood to be the vital importance of the rule of
law and prosecutorial independence in our democracy. My understanding
of this has been shaped by some lived experiences. I am, of course, a
lawyer. I was a prosecutor in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. So I
come to this view as a professional trained and committed to certain
values as key to our system of order.
But my understanding of the rule of law has also been
shaped by my experiences as an Indigenous person and as an Indigenous
leader. The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country
includes a history of the rule of law not being respected. Indeed, one
of the main reasons for the urgent need for justice and reconciliation
today is that, in the history of our country, we have not always upheld
foundational values such as the rule of law in our relations to
Indigenous peoples. And I have seen the negative impacts for freedom,
equality, and a just society this can have firsthand.
So when I pledged to serve Canadians as your Minister of Justice and
Attorney General, I came to it with a deeply ingrained commitment to
the rule of law and the importance of acting independently of partisan,
political and narrow interests in all matters. When we do not do that,
I firmly believe, and know, we do worse as a society.
I will conclude by saying this: I was taught to always be careful
of what you say -- because you cannot take it back. I was taught to
always hold true to your core values and principles and to act with
integrity. These are the teachings of my parents, grandparents and
community. I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth
teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House.
This is who I am and this is who I always will be.
Gilakas'la / Thank you.
PC Number: 2019-0105
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the
recommendation of the Prime Minister, for the purposes of the
hearings before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human
Rights and the examination by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics
(a) authorizes the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, the
former Attorney General, and any persons who directly
participated in discussions with her relating to the exercise of
her authority under the Director of
Public Prosecutions Act
respecting the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, to disclose to the
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and to the
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner any confidences of
the Queen's Privy Council for Canada contained in any information
or communications that were directly discussed with her
respecting the exercise of that authority while she held that
(b) for the purposes of disclosure to the Standing
on Justice and Human Rights and to the Conflict of Interest and
Ethics Commissioner by the former Attorney General, and any
persons who directly participated in discussions with her,
waives, to the extent they apply, solicitor-client privilege and
any other relevant duty of confidentiality to the Government of
Canada in regards to any information or communications in
relation to the exercise of the authority of the Attorney General
under the Director of Public
Prosecutions Act that were directly
discussed with the former Attorney General respecting the
prosecution of SNC-Lavalin while she held that office.
However, in order to uphold the integrity of any
civil proceedings, this authorization and waiver does not extend
to any information or communications between the former Attorney
General and the Director of Public Prosecutions concerning
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