By: Laura Steiner
If Canada were updating its Facebook status after this week, it would be: Where do we go from here? It might include a confused emoticon, or GIF. It’s a reasonable question after this week. Former attorney general Jody Wilson- Raybould testified before a House of Commons Justice Committee Wednesday to shed more light on the situation surrounding SNC Lavalin, and to an extent her resignation. To start with her comments indicated the process worked, as it should.
The problem was with circumstances afterwards. Minutes into her opening statement Wilson-Raybould spoke of what she called 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 Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin.” She described meetings her, or staff had with 10 people including former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Gerald Butts, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Prime Minister Trudeau himself.
It was what Wilson-Raybould called a few times before her truth; more blunt than everyone thought possible. It also had the ring of being closer to “the truth” than Trudeau’s ever changing story. She spoke of notes kept from her meetings, text messages between Butts, and her former Chief of Staff Jessica Prince. It lifts it beyond a simple and easy to spin “he said, she said” to something more substantial. It paints a road forward that goes straight through the Prime Minister’s Office, with more questions unanswered for Trudeau than Wilson-Raybould.
The opposition parties are rolling out different strategies. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer went right to the “no authority, he must resign” option. Inevitably that’s where it could end up either through the potential for an RCMP investigation, which Sheer has also asked for using possible obstruction of justice, or a little-known offense regarding intimidation of a legal official. Or Trudeau’s own MP’s may realize that without him, they still could win the federal election. The flaw to Scheer’s strategy is that there’s no option for escalation after the demand to resign.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is asking for a public inquiry. It’s a longer road, but could end up providing the unvarnished truth; something Canadians deserve. He has also along with Scheer signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Trudeau asking for Parliament to be recalled. They’re demanding Trudeau’s full accountability before the House. It’s definitely the softer approach, with more room to escalate.
The only ending for this is the truth, no matter how ugly, or who pays the price. It’s worth it for Canada’s sake.