“For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 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 with SNC-Lavalin.”
That's how former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould began her testimony before Justice Committee on February 27. What followed was some of the most shocking and disturbing testimony I have ever heard during my time as a Member of Parliament.
I was in the room, sitting only a few feet away from Ms. Wilson-Raybould and you could hear the emotion in her voice as she described the sustained and escalating pressure she endured by the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Clerk of the Privy Council, and the Office of the Finance Minister to change her mind and interfere in the SNC-Lavalin criminal case.
These events and conversations, as laid out by Ms. Wilson-Raybould, included multiple veiled threats to her job if she didn’t bow to their demands, urgings to consider the consequences on election results and shareholder value above judicial due process, and reminders from the Prime Minister to his Attorney General about his own electoral prospects should she allow SNC-Lavalin’s trial to proceed.
As a result of Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, the Justice Committee has invited the Prime Minister’s former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, and Justice Deputy Minister Nathalie Drouin to appear and testify.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has also sent a letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki calling for an investigation into these serious allegations.
As I said in an interview with the Post Millennial: “The testimony, the involvement in the PMO trying to influence the minister of Justice – just incredible. It’s the most serious situation I’ve certainly seen in Ottawa…We had wondered how serious this was, but to hear it was even more serious than we could’ve ever imagined at the level of the finance minister, the prime minister, I’m at a loss for words honestly.”
There are still many unanswered questions. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has forbidden Ms. Wilson-Raybould from discussing her resignation from cabinet, the presentation she gave to cabinet after her resignation, or discussions she had after being fired as Attorney General. There are also questions surrounding alleged political interference in the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
I firmly believe that the law should apply equally to everyone, regardless of who you are or where you come from. Canadians deserve answers and not a government that continuously keeps them in the dark while attempting to bend the rule of law for their own partisan, political gains.
Bob Zimmer is the Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.