Once again the anonymous sources are at it. A CBC report again quotes unnamed sources, almost certainly PMO staff, leaking their spin on a confidential meeting between Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
This is the latest is a serious of anonymous smears using one-sided takes on confidential discussions fired at Wilson-Raybould — one of which even Trudeau had to admit were racist and sexist in tone. Other anonymous smear attempt broke confidence on discussions about the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. That drive-by attack required an applicant for that position to reveal the health status of his wife.
The selective morality of Liberals MPs who remain silent about smears, breaking confidences, pressuring the Attorney General, interfering with prosecutions — and the litany of other unethical and improper acts to assist SNC-Lavalin, a company with a history of corruption in Canada and around the world — is disturbing.
Like diversity, it seems ethics only works when it benefits Justin Trudeau.
It’s unclear how much of the story was even true. The reporter later rewrote the story after another journalist interviewed Wilson-Raybould about it — something one might have thought wise to do in the first instance — in which she said she “would never” interfere in the prosecution.
Some straw-graspers has have tried to argue a difference between “never would” interfere and “didn’t” interfere — as if there’s some place inside the time continuum not included by never. It’s an embarrassingly bad argument.
But even if there is a small shred of truth to the original story, notice that what Wilson-Raybould wanted were not political demands – she asked for nothing for herself. She didn’t ask for a promotion or more money or even a return to the AG position.
She wanted to protect our constitutional rights and show the PM a way out of the crisis he created when he refused to take her sound legal advice from the start.
Canadians value, deserve and expect a legal system free of political interference. It’s a constitutional convention of our country stretching back decades and decades.
And a request that the Prime Minister acknowledge the mistake of AG pressure and attempted prosecutor interference would make perfect sense in order to salvage our rights after Trudeau’s pressuring.
The evidence is that Wilson-Raybould repeatedly warned Trudeau and others to not break the constitutional convention of non-interference in prosecutions. She said it to Trudeau in their September 17 meeting. She says she told his staff. And we’ve seen the very clear letter she wrote to Trudeau on December 14.
Yet the PM wouldn’t take the legal advice from her, his own top legal advisor. He didn’t respect her profession opinion or the opinion of her department — and was hellbent to stop the trial of SNC-Lavalin on corruption and bribery charges. Why? Unclear.
Wilson-Raybould was the last line of defense in the protection of the constitutional convention of non-interference in prosecutions. This convention is operative and not replaced by the ability, under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, to override the director of prosecution‘s decision. The nonsense from some quarters that “the law allows for it” is only true in the most narrow way — that the DPP Act allows it — while conveniently disregarding Canada’s constitution.
After Wilson-Raybould wouldn’t submit to pressure and override the prosecution for reasons she testified were “unlawful” – the jobs argument, a factor the law says must not be considered in determining whether a deferred prosecution agreement is appropriate – Trudeau removed her to clear the way for his interference.
Gerald Butts told us a fanciful story about her removal as AG being required in order to fill the gap they made at Indigenous Services. But in her testimony, Wilson-Raybould not only said that long ago she made it clear she could never be IS minister, but also that Butts demonstrated his understanding of it. If Wilson-Raybould‘s testimony is true, Butts’ story was a concoction and the PM’s offer in bad faith. Significantly, in the additional materials Butts submitted since Wilson-Raybould‘s recording and brief came public, he made no attempt to refute her assertion. It’s true.
There is, therefore, no adequate explanation of why Wilson-Raybould was removed as AG. The logic remains compelling that she was moved because she was the last line of defence against SNC scoring the touch–down — interference in the prosecution to stop their corruption trial.
And here’s the problem for our rights. Not pressuring the AG and not interfering in a prosecution is a constitutional convention. A constitutional convention evolves with practice. If a practice is not condemned as error, convention bends toward an acceptance of that practice. It becomes precedent. In this case, political pressure on the AG to interfere in the prosecution becomes normalized.
That is just unacceptable.
If the PM doesn’t acknowledge the error made, the error would be the latest evolution of the practice, bending the convention in favour of pressure and interference.
If the PM acknowledges the error made the convention is whole again. Her appeal – what the anonymous PMO sources characterized as “demands” – was not for herself, but to fix the constitutional mistake Trudeau made, one which will erode our constitutional rights left unfixed.
This crisis started as a legal mistake by Trudeau himself. His refusal to fix it has turned it into a legal and political crisis. Instead of respecting the legal advice of his top legal advisor, it’s been anonymous leaks and smears to discredit Wilson-Raybould. It’s telling young women that diversity is only valuable when it benefits the Prime Minister. It’s telling Indigenous protesters they’re not part of his high-donor club.
The result is plunging polls and – literally – young feminist women turning their backs on Trudeau. Canadians value our rights and are watching this story closely.