SNC Lavalin: The Call Changes Everything

The phone call between Jody Wilson Raybould and Michael Wernick image credit: National Post

By: Laura Steiner

The clock started ticking the moment former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould announced she would be submitting a package of evidence to the Justice Committee.  The announcement from Committee Chair Anthony Housefather came Wednesday, the packet would be ready sometime Friday afternoon and released to the media, and public.  Nothing good ever happens for a government on Friday afternoons; they are the spot you release things you don’t to talk about on Monday in the hopes people will forget.  It’s a common practice; I think the Ontario PC’s unveiled the idea of their cut to Toronto city council on a Friday.

By that timing alone, I figured whatever the contents of Wilson-Raybould’s submission, they had to be significant.  And they were.  The audio, and its transcript completely proves her argument of a sustained campaign to undermine prosecutorial independence.  They also shine a different light on Michael Wernick’s testimony and subsequent resignation.  His voice often had a pleading tone to it, as if he knew the boss had given him a tough task, about which, he had doubts.  When the call ended it was almost as if he feared what Trudeau would say when he had to tell him that Ms. Wilson-Raybould would not change her mind.  By the time he opened his mouth in front of the justice committee for the first time,  he knew he’d been taped.  And if it was ever released, he knew was going down.  He probably figured he had nothing left to lose but his job, and he was near retirement anyway.

The implications for the Prime Minister are also troubling.  At one point Raybould asks Wernick if Trudeau understands the gravity of what granting the DPA would mean.  “This is like breaching a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence” she said.  Wernick answered that he didn’t think Trudeau saw it like that.  “Well then no one is explaining that to him Michael!,” Raybould answered.

The exchange goes straight to the question of Trudeau’s competence.  Is he arrogant enough to believe he always gets what he wants because he is the Prime Minister of Canada? Has he not got the common sense  to realize how the law works? Is it some mixture of the two? Are either one of these traits we want in a Prime Minister?