Author Topic: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case  (Read 80692 times)

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Offline Loachman

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Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« on: February 07, 2019, 20:16:44 »
It was hard to cut much out of this for brevity, as it is all so interesting.

And it could get much interestinger between now and the election.

https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/for-a-commission-of-inquiry-into-snc-lavalin-and-the-prime-ministers-office/

For a commission of inquiry into SNC-Lavalin and the Prime Minister’s Office

Paul Wells: What’s alleged in today’s Globe story is not just plausible, it points to bigger PMO problems. And it’s the sort of thing that can destroy governments.

by Paul Wells

Feb 7, 2019

Today’s most important reading was published on Jan. 14.

That’s when Jody Wilson-Raybould, the UBC-educated lawyer from the We Wai Kai Nation, released a long, detailed memo explaining her accomplishments as Minister of Justice and Attorney General - on the very day Justin Trudeau demoted her to the Veterans Affairs portfolio.

    “The role of the Attorney General of Canada carries with it unique responsibilities to uphold the rule of law and the administration of justice, and as such demands a measure of principled independence,” she wrote. (I’m bolding the sections that seem particularly germane today.) “It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence. As such, 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. This is how I served throughout my tenure in that role.”

Look, that’s just an odd thing to write if you’re mostly interested in bragging about your legislative accomplishments.

I’ve seen a lot of attorneys-general leave that post, and none felt the need to remind everyone that they had sought to avoid “even the perception of political interference.” Absent any pressure to do things that might give the perception of political interference, it would seem as extraneous as writing, “I worked hard to keep the mail-room budget under control” or “I tried to maintain excellent posture during Question Period.”

None of that proves a thing, of course. It’s not a smoking gun. It’s more of a… I don’t know, a smoke-filled room. But it is damned interesting reading in the context of today’s Globe and Mail line story. (It’s paywalled. Pay up.) The story asserts, on the basis of unnamed sources, that Wilson-Raybould “came under heavy pressure to persuade the Public Prosecution Service of Canada” to cut a “deferred prosecution arrangement” with SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., the mammoth Montreal engineering and construction firm, to forestall a trial over corruption and fraud charges.

<snip>

Now, here’s the other thing: None of that matters. If - it’s a huge if - the Prime Minister’s Office leaned on the Attorney General to pressure the public prosecutor’s office to conduct any case in any way, then it doesn’t matter how nice the defendant is.

The intervention would be the infraction.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Act is clear: If the Attorney General inflects the work of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in any way, for any reason, they must put it in writing in a directive that must be published in the Canada Gazette. There is no provision for cutting a nice guy some slack.

In fact, the course of events I’ve sketched above - battle-scarred pillar of Quebec Inc. wants fewer legal impediments to turn over a new leaf so it can continue scoring big global development contracts - makes the claims in the Globe story more plausible on their face. This is the sort of call one might conceivably make, if one did not care about what Jody Wilson-Raybould calls “a measure of principled independence.”

Wilson-Raybould’s on-the-record quotes in the Globe story are the furthest thing from denials. “That is between me and the government as the government’s previous lawyer” is not the sort of thing you say when an allegation is false. You say it’s false. I’m not saying Wilson-Raybould’s response proves anything, but it leaves ample room for the thing to be true, as one possibility among many.

The PMO line, sent last night to the Globe and repeated this morning by the PM, is nearly identical and nearly meaningless. The PM didn’t “direct” Wilson-Raybould “to draw any conclusions on this matter,” the PMO said on Wednesday. Trudeau chimed in today, singing close harmony: neither he nor his staff  “directed” JWR “to make any particular decision in this matter.” Thanks. That’s great. You could drive a truck through that. Pressure wouldn’t be “direction,” and at no point would Wilson-Raybould need to “draw any conclusions” or “make any particular decision” - she would, if the allegations are true, be trying to inflect someone else’s conclusions or decisions.

So where are we?

We have a minister of the crown - Wilson-Raybould is still that, as of today - reminding everyone that she had “unique responsibilities” against “even the perception of political appearance.”

We have a public trail of increasing dissatisfaction at SNC with the way this case was going, leading up to October, four months ago.

We have Wilson-Raybould getting shuffled out of her job, to her obvious displeasure, at the next opportunity.

We have non-denials from the minister and artfully meaningless denials from the Prime Minister.

The allegations at hand are vastly more grave than the news that Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, once wrote a personal cheque to make the Mike Duffy problem go away. This is about what Justin Trudeau’s first hand-picked attorney general calls a “pillar of our democracy.”

So let’s cut to the chase. When Justin Trudeau’s vacation with the Aga Khan started to become a problem, he spent a few weeks exploiting fine print and technicalities like a Philadelphia lawyer in hopes that everyone in Canada had lost their ability to parse transparent double-talk. There is no point in trying to do the same here.

In the absence of public denials from Jody Wilson-Raybould and her officials that anything like what is alleged in the Globe story ever happened - and I would say, even if she now makes any such denials - this needs a commission of inquiry. This is the sort of thing that, if proven, properly destroys governments.

One more question. Why on earth would any Liberal, knowing this, co-operate with the Globe’s investigation or any other stories that might come to light in coming days?

I don’t know who the Globe’s sources are, and I’ve learned that attempts to guess another reporter’s sources usually miss the mark by a mile. But let me make this general observation about the Liberal Party of Canada and Justin Trudeau’s PMO. In recent months I have been increasingly critical of the PMO and especially of Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts. Frankly it hasn’t been great fun. I don’t get a kick out of being that specific in criticisms of a government. And typically, when you say “PM’s staff,” no matter who the PM is, what you really mean is “the PM.” But the way this government hoses money around for show sickens me.

What I’ve noticed is that when I have been bluntly critical of Trudeau’s PMO, no Liberal in Canada, outside the PMO, has reached out to criticize me, to gently try to correct perceptions, or otherwise to suggest I’m off-track. In fact, in a large number of cases, the response has been quite the opposite. I hear things like “Thank God” and “About time” and “I’ve been loving those columns.”

That’s all very anecdotal and personal and back-patting, so I’m sorry for all of it. But the conclusion I draw is: Justin Trudeau’s senior PMO staff doesn’t have a lot of fans, even among people who wish Trudeau well and whose personal futures are bound up with his. That may start to matter a lot now.

Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 20:29:33 »
Yup....this will go far.......

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/peoples-party-canada-bernier-tyler-thompson-1.4970112


Cheers
Larry

...for a second there, the article picture looked like Bernier standing beside Ann Coulter (with straightened hair)...fortunately his newest prospect isn’t anywhere close to being that extreme to the right.........

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 20:51:51 »
And it could get much interestinger between now and the election.

https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/for-a-commission-of-inquiry-into-snc-lavalin-and-the-prime-ministers-office/

For a commission of inquiry into SNC-Lavalin and the Prime Minister’s Office


Sure makes paying back taxpayers for inappropriate expenses or a $16 orange juice look like a drop of water in the ocean, doesn't it?

Offline Remius

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 22:12:49 »
Sure makes paying back taxpayers for inappropriate expenses or a $16 orange juice look like a drop of water in the ocean, doesn't it?

It makes people like me not want to vote for the governing party...
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Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 08:58:41 »
Just a question: why is the RCMP not investigating what could be termed as “obstruction of justice “ as reported by the Globe and Mail?
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Offline FSTO

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2019, 09:07:31 »
Pretty scathing opinion piece from Paul Wells

https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/for-a-commission-of-inquiry-into-snc-lavalin-and-the-prime-ministers-office/

This final section is very telling (to me) of the deteriorating relationship between the principals in the PMO and the Liberal Caucus.

"One more question. Why on earth would any Liberal, knowing this, co-operate with the Globe’s investigation or any other stories that might come to light in coming days?

I don’t know who the Globe’s sources are, and I’ve learned that attempts to guess another reporter’s sources usually miss the mark by a mile. But let me make this general observation about the Liberal Party of Canada and Justin Trudeau’s PMO. In recent months I have been increasingly critical of the PMO and especially of Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts. Frankly it hasn’t been great fun. I don’t get a kick out of being that specific in criticisms of a government. And typically, when you say “PM’s staff,” no matter who the PM is, what you really mean is “the PM.” But the way this government hoses money around for show sickens me.

What I’ve noticed is that when I have been bluntly critical of Trudeau’s PMO, no Liberal in Canada, outside the PMO, has reached out to criticize me, to gently try to correct perceptions, or otherwise to suggest I’m off-track. In fact, in a large number of cases, the response has been quite the opposite. I hear things like “Thank God” and “About time” and “I’ve been loving those columns.”

That’s all very anecdotal and personal and back-patting, so I’m sorry for all of it. But the conclusion I draw is: Justin Trudeau’s senior PMO staff doesn’t have a lot of fans, even among people who wish Trudeau well and whose personal futures are bound up with his. That may start to matter a lot now."


- mod edit to fix link to article -
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 10:00:07 by milnews.ca »

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2019, 09:24:22 »
Agree. The most telling to me is : But the way this government hoses money around for show sickens me.
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Offline Remius

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2019, 09:48:00 »

The At Issue panel last night on CBC were all in agreement.

If nothing transpired and the allegations are false then the former Attorney General could have/would have come out right away and denied.

"No Comment" is very telling that something isn't right.

And maybe her loyalty has been shaken by being punished for doing the right thing.  Mine would.   
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Offline Loachman

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2019, 20:12:55 »
A few more snippets:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/scheer-committee-snc-lavalin-1.5011161

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she's bound by 'solicitor-client privilege,' won't comment on SNC-Lavalin scandal

Media report suggests PMO pressured former attorney general to intervene in fraud case

John Paul Tasker CBC News Posted: Feb 08, 2019 10:33 AM ET

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould said Friday she would not comment on claims that the Prime Minister's Office tried to pressure her to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in pending legal action against the construction company.

"As the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter," she said.

In her role as attorney general, Wilson-Raybould served as the government's top lawyer and the chief law officer of the Crown - nominally representing the government in all of its prosecutions. Under common law, communication between the office of the attorney general and other offices of government typically is privileged under the solicitor-client privilege.

But at least one criminal defence lawyer was questioning Wilson-Raybould's privilege argument Friday, saying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could easily waive it and allow his former justice minister to speak freely and truthfully on the matter.

<snip>

Even if she's bound by solicitor-client privilege, Spratt said he doesn't believe she would be barred from denying the contents of a news story. "If it's so ludicrous, so fanciful, I don't think there's anything that stops her from saying 'That's not true,'" he said.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-conservatives-ndp-seek-to-launch-investigation-into-allegations-of/

Conservatives, NDP seek to launch investigation into allegations of interference by PMO: Scheer

Robert Fife Ottawa Bureau Chief Steven Chase

Published February 8, 2019

On Friday morning, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said opposition MPs will attempt to launch a committee investigation into the allegations that former justice minister and attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould had resisted pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to issue a directive to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to shelve court proceedings against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. in favour of a negotiated settlement without trial.

He said Conservative and NDP MPs on the Commons justice committee will try to set up hearings on the matter and request nine high-ranking government officials appear before members of Parliament to answer questions. Mr. Scheer said opposition MPs are calling for an emergency meeting of the standing committee on justice and human rights.

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/chris-selley-tale-of-prosecutorial-interference-a-mortal-threat-to-the-trudeau-brand?video_autoplay=true

Chris Selley: Tale of prosecutorial interference a mortal threat to the Trudeau brand

It would be perfectly emblematic of a government that promised a new way of doing things, but is capable of cynicism that could make Jean Chrétien blush

Chris Selley February 7, 2019 8:27 PM EST

In a Thursday press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied that he or anyone from his office directed Justice Minister (as she then was) Jody Wilson-Raybould to abandon the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin over some funny business in Libya, and instead pursue a friendlier so-called “remediation agreement.”

Interestingly, no one had alleged what he denied. The front page of Thursday’s Globe and Mail did not report that anyone “directed” Wilson Raybould to lay off the politically well-connected Montreal-based engineering firm, but rather that the PMO tried to persuade her to do that, and that she told them to pound sand.

And now she is an ex-justice minister.

Reporter: Was “any sort of influence” applied?

Trudeau: “At no time did I or my office direct the … attorney general to make any particular decision in this matter.”

Reporter: “Was there any sort of influence whatsoever?”

Trudeau: “At no time did we direct the attorney general … to take any decision whatsoever in this matter.”

Yikes.

Do these very serious, possibly criminal allegations ring true? Savagely demoting a strong-willed justice minister whom you’ve just asked to do something egregious, possibly illegally, doesn’t seem like a very savvy political play. But then, Trudeau’s PMO isn’t half as savvy as it thinks it is. (In theory Wilson-Raybould could have backed up the PMO’s story on Thursday, but she declined to comment.) It would have been an outrageous attempted abuse of power, certainly, but hardly unprecedented in the greasy annals of Ottawa history.

Indeed, if the public winds up believing this narrative, that’s exactly why it could leave a real scar on the Liberals. It would be perfectly emblematic of a government that promised a whole new way of doing things, but that’s capable of cynicism that could make Jean Chrétien blush.

“Canadians from all across this country sent a message that it is time for real change, and I am deeply honoured by the faith they have placed in my team and me,” Trudeau said in a statement on Nov. 4, 2015, after swearing in his gender-balanced Cabinet featuring Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s first-ever Indigenous justice minister. “This strong, diverse, and experienced team will serve all Canadians.”

Three-and-a-bit years later, Wilson-Raybould was busted down to Veteran’s Affairs and Washroom Cleanliness for reasons no one could quite understand. Some saw her (ahem) reassignment as a betrayal of Trudeau’s reconciliation agenda. But the irony, of course, is that Wilson-Raybould oversaw some of the biggest disappointments the Trudeau government had to offer its supporters.

https://ccla.org/pmo-discovered-presumption-innocence/

The PMO Has Discovered the Presumption of Innocence

February 7, 2019

Michael Bryant

SNC-Gate might be the way the Kremlin works, wherein Putin officials manipulate the justice system to benefit his friends, but not Canada. Nobody is above the law in this country. Nobody.

So if PMO crackerjacks made legal changes to the Criminal Code to accommodate a Quebec conglomerate, then lobbied the Justice Minister to politicize a criminal prosecution, then this government is about to learn the hard way that messing with the administration of justice is not just bad politics. It may be a crime.

The Globe investigation may have already triggered a criminal investigation into allegations that PMO officials committed obstruction of justice and breach of trust under the Criminal Code. This story has all the hallmarks of a corrupt police state. If true, it confirms the public’s worst fears about the justice system. That it’s about who you know, in the PMO, not what you did.   

https://ipolitics.ca/2019/02/07/legal-community-raises-alarms-over-allegations-pmo-interfered-in-snc-lavalin-case/

Legal community raises alarms over allegations PMO interfered in SNC-Lavalin case

By Marieke Walsh. Published on Feb 7, 2019 7:06pm

TORONTO — The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is calling for a police investigation into bombshell allegations that Justin Trudeau’s office interfered in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin.

“Messing with the administration of justice is not just bad politics. It may be a crime,” CCLA executive director Michael Bryant said in a statement Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the Globe and Mail reported that the Prime Minister’s Office urged then attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a corruption case against the Quebec engineering and construction services company. The criminal case centres on allegations the company paid millions in bribes to secure government contracts in Libya.

The Globe reports the prime minister’s office wanted SNC-Lavalin to avoid going to trial and instead get a deal that would allow the company to pay a fine but admit no criminal wrongdoing. The deal is known as a “deferred prosecution agreement,” or a “remediation agreement, and was only made legal in Canada last year.

<snip>

Despite multiple requests for comment, the RCMP has not yet told iPolitics whether it is reviewing the allegations.

The prime minister’s carefully worded denial further damages the government’s position, according to University of Calgary law professor Michael Nesbitt.

“This response actually makes this whole thing worse,” Nesbitt tweeted. “The concern has always been ‘influence’ not ‘direct.’ The difference is between ‘corrupt’ and ‘stupid and corrupt,’ and the former is harder to detect, weed out & correct.”

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2019, 09:24:46 »
Political interference. Go to Court on one, no Court on another. The reasons are obviously political on both.

The Norman case.

2 Feb 18 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the police investigation into Vice-Admiral Mark Norman will "inevitably" lead to "court processes," even though the military's second-highest ranked officer has not yet been charged with any crime.

The actual quote: “On the issue of the case which is very much underway in terms of investigation and inevitably court processes, I won’t say much, other than to say I took the advice of our chief of defence staff on this particular case,” Trudeau responded. “I trust our public service in their capacity to make determinations about what actually needs to happen in cases like this.”



http://nationalpost.pressreader.com/national-post-latest-edition/20190209/textview

I would have expected Trudeau’s blood to boil - NP Rex Murphy - 9 Feb 19
    THERE WAS NO ENERGY, NO FORCE, NO IMPULSE OF CONVICTION OR OUTRAGE

“What are you saying? Of course we didn’t. The idea that I, or anyone who works in my office, would interfere or pressure the Justice Minister in her proper role as the guardian of the rule of law — so much as lift an eyebrow when she is in the room — is preposterous, insulting, and absolutely and without qualification FALSE. And to be doubly clear on this, I’d instantly fire anyone who even brought up a whisper of a suggestion of it.”

Apart from proving that I’ll never be a playwright, the above smidgen of invented response is meant to display how a party leader would naturally speak when a newspaper has questioned his honour and the honour of his government on a matter as profound as attempting to influence the course of justice or pressure a justice minister in her function as guardian of the rule of law.

The denial would be energetic, spontaneously expressed, a rush of words thrown back at the questioner and directly addressing the point of the question. It would not be some bloodless sentence, exquisitely phrased, designed in committee by crisis-management teams, evasive and equivocal, and delivered in a frozen robotic monotone with all the passion of some of those painfully overacted Heritage Moments we lately hear so much about.

IT WAS STUMBLING AND NERVELESS

The prime minister in responding to a direct question on the SNC-Lavalin affair went the bloodless, pre-written, robotic route: “Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or by anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.” As the always perspicuous Chris Selley noted in these pages, “Interestingly, no one had alleged what he denied.”

A worthy reporter noting the particular stress Mr. Trudeau had put on the word “directed” went back with “are you saying now categorically there was no influence, or any pushing whatsoever …?” Mr. Trudeau, totally ignoring the questioner’s point and his explicit request for categorical denial of “pushing” or “influence” — it was as if it had not been asked — then repeated, word by exquisite word, the exact, inadequate, prefabricated stream of words he had already given. The reporter, admirably, tried again “… but not necessarily direct, Prime Minister, was there any sort of influence whatsoever?” Then for a third time (I expected a **** to crow somewhere) Mr. Trudeau flopped back to the identical stilted reply he had already given twice.

The reporter could have been questioning an old-fashioned teletype machine, preset for one reply only, for all the attention his actual questions were receiving. In sticking to “direct” as his lexical life raft, the prime minister called up the almost faded memories of the great equivocator himself, that maestro of semantic misdirection, Bill Clinton, who famously exploited the lexical latitude of the verb “to be.” Ah, lord, he was a wonder. He may have been president, but America missed a genius grammarian in the process.

There’s a whole lot in this latest flare. And hardly the least, beyond the allegations of favouritism to a Quebec company and lobby efforts with the PMO and others, is the cloud not hovering over the government’s high sanctimony — so furiously invoked in the diplomatic crisis with China — regarding its dedication to the rule of law. The crisis over SNC-Lavalin merges here with the crisis over the arrest of Huawei Technologies’ CFO Meng Wanzhou. It is difficult to parade under the principled banner of the rule of law abroad when there is a reasoned allegation that it’s tattered at home.

And then there is the question of the previous minister of justice, and her recent ejection from the high table of government ministers to the lesser role of Veterans Affairs. In an explicitly feminist government, with a pledge to make Aboriginal issues its prime moral concern, the demotion of this minister, Aboriginal and female, seems to puncture the piety on both fronts. (A not so incidental point — why is she not the lead cabinet voice, the minister, on Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation?) Should it turn out that she was scapegoated — and the question is not nearly resolved on this point — but should it turn out so, it will be a nuclear political detonation for a government that has offered piety after piety on its “sensitivity” and concern for both women and Aboriginals.

Let me return to what I regard as Mr. Trudeau’s strange strain of response to The Globe and Mail’s reporting. When a person knows that an allegation is completely off the rails, knows that what is being hinted at or directly charged is baseless, without merit, completely off track, that person is immediately invested with a miraculous fluency and liberality of expression. He can really let fly.

Politicians in particular pray for such moments. Even the poorest speaker in such a case is suddenly gifted with marvellous eloquence and directness and dismisses the question with blistering scorn, utterly without qualification or equivocation. There was no energy, no force, no impulse of conviction or outrage in the early Trudeau replies on Thursday. It was a stumbling and nerveless, lawyerly as we say when we wish to indicate someone is dancing barefoot on hot coals and pretending the shoes he isn’t wearing are a little tight.



Here is some Trudeau passion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8igrMJ9L4po

« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 09:36:17 by Rifleman62 »
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Offline Jarnhamar

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2019, 10:13:22 »
Deceit dies in the light.
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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2019, 10:21:29 »
Andrew Coyne makes some interesting points in this column from The National Post. Still, we don't know yet one way or the other. As a card-carrying member of the CPC, I am finding it hard to keep my mouth shut, but I will.

Andrew Coyne: Hard to overstate seriousness of SNC-Lavalin allegations
Will the pattern be repeated? We're about to find out whether this really is a country governed by the rule of law at all

February 8, 2019
9:17 PM EST

Can it be? Can a large, politically sensitive corporation with a history of buying influence avoid prosecution in this country by the mere expedient of a phone call to the prime minister’s office? Can the prime minister’s staff have charges against the corporation dropped by a quick call to the minister of justice? Is that the sort of country we live in?

After this week, we can guess how these questions would be answered in the prime minister’s office, at least: yes, of course. Indeed, long before it was reported officials in Justin Trudeau’s office had pressured the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to have prosecutors set aside criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin, the giant Quebec engineering and construction firm, the government had gone to some trouble to provide the company with a softer option.

Buried deep in the 2018 omnibus budget bill was a provision allowing corporations charged with certain offences to avoid prosecution by signing so-called “remediation agreements.” In place of convictions, fines and jail times, the company and its executives are obliged, in essence, to admit they did it, put back the money, and promise never to do it again. The amendment was inserted after a strenuous campaign of public advertising and private lobbying (14 meetings with officials in the prime minister’s office alone) by — who? — why yes, SNC-Lavalin.

John Ivison: The government needs to let Jody Wilson-Raybould speak
Rex Murphy: Trudeau sure doesn’t sound like he has nothing to hide about SNC-Lavalin
NP View: Trudeau’s ‘rule of law’ lectures to China seem laughable after SNC-Lavalin
The issue was of more than academic concern to the company, which has since 2015 been facing charges of bribing public officials in Libya, in violation of federal anti-corruption legislation. But then, the company was no stranger to scandal, foreign and domestic, before that: from the Padma bridge project in Bangladesh to the Kerala hydroelectric dam in India to the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal to the 2016 compliance agreement with Elections Canada in which it admitted funnelling tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign donations through its employees over several years, almost all of them to the Liberal Party of Canada.

You can imagine how attractive “remediation” would be in such cases, as an alternative to imprisonment. For managers, the risk of getting caught becomes no more than the cost of doing business: heads you get the contract, tails you (or rather shareholders) pay a fine. SNC-Lavalin says the executives responsible have left the company, that its corporate culture has changed. But while it may no longer be in the business of breaking laws, it certainly appears to be in the business of drafting them, with the help of high-priced lobbyists telling sob stories to compliant politicians of the dire economic impact in A Certain Province if the company were held to account for its actions.

Alas for SNC-Lavalin and the Liberals, even with the remediation provision in place, it remained up to the discretion of non-partisan prosecutors whether to make use of it. Last October, the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, refused. Officials from the PMO then reportedly put Wilson-Raybould under “heavy pressure” to intervene with Roussel; she reportedly refused. A couple of months later she was busted down to Veterans’ Affairs.


The truth of these allegations is suggested not only by Wilson-Raybould’s repeated, on the record, non-denials (the solicitor-client privilege she has invoked may forbid her to confirm incriminating statements by her former clients in government, but not to deny them), but by the prime minister’s own repeated non-denial denials, carefully refuting allegations (he did not “direct” her to intervene) that had not been made.

There remain a number of unanswered questions, to be sure. If Wilson-Raybould was pressured to do something so obviously improper, why is she still in cabinet? On the one hand, why wouldn’t she resign in protest? On the other, why would the PM risk firing her, knowing what she knew? And why would she accept such treatment?

But the scandal here does not lie in its aftermath, but with the original alleged interference. It is hard to overstate how serious a matter this is. It would be bad enough for Wilson-Raybould to have instructed prosecutors on her own, at least without putting her reasons in writing and notifying the public, as the law requires. It would be many times worse for the prime minister or his staff to have pressured her to do so — for any reason, let alone on behalf of a firm whose illegal campaign donations their party had only recently had to return. Prosecutors are supposed to be insulated from political interference for a reason. Put it this way: suppose instead of leaning on the minister to go easy on a friend, the prime minister’s people had wanted her to go after an enemy.

The worst part is it is not clear what can be done even if the worst suspicions prove true
   
At the very least, for the PMO to have intervened in the way alleged would display appalling judgment; at the worst it may count as obstruction of justice. The former Liberal attorney general of Ontario, Michael Bryant, and former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond are among those who believe a crime may have been committed. Certainly it calls into doubt the government’s protestations, in the controversy over the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, about its devotion to the “rule of law.” It also possibly sheds new light on the murky dealings surrounding the dismissal and prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets.

The worst part is it is not clear what can be done even if the worst suspicions prove true. The RCMP, embarrassingly for an allegedly mature democracy, have a decidedly spotty record investigating allegations of wrongdoing by their political masters. Neither has Parliament proved particularly effective, in past scandals, at getting to the bottom of something the government of the day wishes to suppress. Those in power seem to have drawn the appropriate conclusions.

Will the pattern be repeated? We’re about to find out whether this really is a country governed by the rule of law at all.

- mod edit to add link to article -
« Last Edit: March 06, 2019, 15:16:11 by milnews.ca »

Offline Larry Strong

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2019, 10:45:31 »
AG sees no justification for probe of alleged PMO interference in SNC-Lavalin case

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/ag-sees-no-justification-for-probe-of-alleged-pmo-interference-in-snc-lavalin-case-1.4289301

Quote
OTTAWA -- Current Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti said there has been no evidence to justify a committee investigation into whether or not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or anyone in his office tried to have former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould abandon the prosecution of a case against SNC-Lavalin.

"All we've heard are allegations in a newspaper," Lametti, who replaced Wilson-Raybould when she was shuffled into the Veterans' Affairs portfolio last month, told CTV's Question Period host Evan Solomon.

"The prime minister has said that these allegations are false. We haven't had any corroborating evidence there. There hasn't been anything to my mind that justifies a committee investigation."


Despite this stated view, Lametti said that "it's up to the committee to do what it wants to do."

The opposition parties are pushing for an emergency meeting of the House Justice Committee to consider a motion that would call on Wilson-Raybould, Lametti, and several other high-profile government officials to testify.

"I'll let the committee decide. The committee is the master of its own docket. But certainly from what I have seen, and what the prime minister has said, I can reassure Canadians that there has been nothing inappropriate that has happened," Lametti said.

The call for this study was prompted by a bombshell Globe and Mail report that the Prime Minister's Office tried to get Wilson-Raybould to ask prosecutors to make a deal in the corruption and fraud case against the Quebec-based engineering and construction company.

According to the Globe, Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to play along and did not follow through despite the high-level pressure. CTV News has not independently verified the story.

The bombshell report prompted intense backlash in the House of Commons, with the Conservatives framing Wilson-Raybould's ministerial move as a demotion for not following the PMO’s orders, while the NDP said the Globe’s report proves that the Liberals offer special treatment to their wealthy friends.

Among the staffers that the Conservatives and NDP want to hear from at the committee: Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Gerald Butts; Senior Advisors Elder Marques and Mathieu Bouchard; and Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff Jessica Prince.

"Given the disturbing reports of political interference by the Prime Minister's Office in the functions of the Attorney General of Canada, and given the minister of Veterans Affairs recent comments that ‘It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence, the committee hold no fewer than four meetings," reads the motion.

'Where there's smoke there's fire'

On CTV's Question Period, Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt said that because these allegations have been made, it's incumbent that the committee hears from those believed to be involved to get a full picture of what happened.

"It's not like nothing was happening where there's smoke, there's fire," Raitt said, adding that the Liberals on the committee better support the motion otherwise "they look like their hands are completely dirty… It's going to come out and if it's not going to be through a parliamentary process and it's not going to be through the ethics Commissioner, it's going to be something else."

NDP MP Nathan Cullen echoed this, calling the committee vote on the motion "the moment of truth."

He said if nothing happened, they should be comfortable coming before the committee and saying so.

"Until we get answers we need to try every tool in the toolbox to try to pull those answers out of government," Cullen said.

No need to recuse, yet

Lametti said he is basing his denial -- and the denial repeated from various Liberals over the last few days -- that there was "no direction and no pressure" on the words of the prime minister.

"The prime minister has said that he did not direct my predecessor, so I'm basing it, I'm basing it on what he has said publicly," Lametti said.

Asked if he thinks he should recuse himself from the matter as the current AG, Lametti said he sees "no reason."

"There hasn't been any reason to recuse myself in any discussions that I have privy to up until now. Obviously, if there is ever a case where I feel that there's some sort of conflict, personal conflict on my part, or situational conflict, I'll recuse myself. But I don't see any now. I certainly haven't seen any yet," Lametti said.

The NDP have asked Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion to investigate this case.

"Obstruction of justice charges have been brought against Canadians with far less evidence than we already have here," Cullen said.

In an email to CTV News, former ethics czar Mary Dawson said that while the time it takes to complete an investigation can vary based on the circumstances, "it usually, but not always, takes more time than six or seven months" for an investigation to be completed.

Hasn't spoken to his predecessor

Cullen said that Wilson-Raybould's silence so far has meant many outstanding questions have remained unanswered.

"Who spoke to Jody Wilson-Raybould about this SNC-Lavalin case? Did they ask her to take this plea option out which would give the opportunity to the company for billions of dollars in contracts? And was it because of that refusal… was she then fired?" Cullen said.

On Friday Wilson-Raybould said as the former AG she is "bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter."

Asked if he had spoken to his predecessor about whether or not she felt pressured regarding this case, Lametti said he hasn't, and doesn't plan on doing so.


Cheers
Larry
Proud sponsor of the Maple Leaf Legacy Project. http://www.mapleleaflegacy.ca

Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2019, 10:59:32 »
After denying knowing Christ three times, Peter broke down, repented and asked for God's forgiveness.

No such luck with a Liberal PM and PMO - or current AG - that doesn't even get that they have sinned.


Offline Haggis

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2019, 13:11:17 »
After denying knowing Christ three times, Peter broke down, repented and asked for God's forgiveness.

No such luck with a Liberal PM and PMO - or current AG - that doesn't even get that they have sinned.

The PM says there was no wrong doing, so there was no wrongdoing.  Deal with it and quit questioning your leader.  You think this is some type of democracy?  :sarcasm:
Train like your life depends on it.  Some day, it may.

Offline Navy_Pete

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2019, 13:49:33 »
I've got to be honest, kind of on the fence about the whole root here. Graft and corruption are pretty endemic in a lot of countries, but some are more open about it then others.  I'm okay with holding individuals responsible for it, but given the prevalence of sprawling multinationals and the complicated nature of corporations, banning companies from all federal bidding as a result seems a bit heavy handed.  Are you looking at only the specific arm that did the deed, or do you apply it to the parent corporation and everything under the umbrella?

I don't think you'd have to poke to hard to come up with similar instances on any multinational, and given how small the pool is, you could probably disqualify all defence contractors that work outside of Canada if you used this as a sledgehammer.  In this case the SNC folks that work on MWAV do a pretty good job, and are pretty far down the food chain from who was convicted.  Does it make any practical sense to say they can't do future work for the RCN to virtue signal?

Just wish they'd have the intestinal fortitude to be honest about this one.  Their PR and spin is usually much better too, so this whole thing is a bit of a mess.  I don't think it would make sense to ban SNC from all GoC procurement, but if the legislation is a bit too broad or doesn't make sense, make a decision, explain why publicly, and fix the legislation. These clowns and their focus on appearance are their own worst enemies; they keep hiding this kind of stuff or do other backroom shenanigans to protect their 'brand' and it is blowing up on them. I think they'd be better off making an unpopular decision, riding through any short term pain, and go from there.  People that are against them already won't change their opinions, but this kind of stuff alienates their own crowd, as well as the mass of unaffiliated voters that don't go with any particular party.

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2019, 14:49:44 »
I've got to be honest, kind of on the fence about the whole root here.

i don't get your post, I think you missed the root here... this controversy is not about the fate of SNC, or whether or not the legislation they are facing is good/bad/ugly and could/should be changed, which is what most of your post seems to be about.

The issue here is political interference in the justice system, aka Russia / China / and a whole other host of countries we don't want to be like, which is why we try and safeguard the independence of the judiciary system. It wouldn't matter if this was about political interference in the SNC case, the VCDS case (which there is already plenty of doubt about whether or not there was), or whether it was political interference in a charge of theft under $5000 against a homeless person...
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

Offline Cloud Cover

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 15:10:38 »
And here we go again with the game winning formula of Liberals, corruption and one or two Quebec companies. I’m no fan of JT, but one would think they would be astute enough to stay away from these things. Does Chrétien’s law firm represent SNC?

Edit: the answer is yes: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/the-law-page/prominent-tax-lawyer-charged-in-snc-lavalin-scandal/article20522424/

https://www.dentons.com/en/jean-chretien



« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 15:18:00 by Cloud Cover »
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Offline Rifleman62

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 16:39:49 »
Quote
"All we've heard are allegations in a newspaper," Lametti, who replaced Wilson-Raybould when she was shuffled into the Veterans' Affairs portfolio last month, told CTV's Question Period host Evan Solomon. "The prime minister has said that these allegations are false. We haven't had any corroborating evidence there. There hasn't been anything to my mind that justifies a committee investigation."

Despite this stated view, Lametti said that "it's up to the committee to do what it wants to do."


House Justice Committee: 6 Liberals, 3 Conservatives, and 1 NDP. How do you think they will vote?
Quote
Among the staffers that the Conservatives and NDP want to hear from at the committee: Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Gerald Butts; Senior Advisors Elder Marques and Mathieu Bouchard; and Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff Jessica Prince.

Anyway, testifying under oath doesn't mean you get the truth.
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Offline Navy_Pete

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2019, 16:45:41 »
i don't get your post, I think you missed the root here... this controversy is not about the fate of SNC, or whether or not the legislation they are facing is good/bad/ugly and could/should be changed, which is what most of your post seems to be about.

The issue here is political interference in the justice system, aka Russia / China / and a whole other host of countries we don't want to be like, which is why we try and safeguard the independence of the judiciary system. It wouldn't matter if this was about political interference in the SNC case, the VCDS case (which there is already plenty of doubt about whether or not there was), or whether it was political interference in a charge of theft under $5000 against a homeless person...

Sorry I wasn't clear, I meant I was on the fence about the issue of whether or not SNC should be allowed to bid on future contracts (as a result of the CEO being convicted of bribery in Libya).

The political interference in the justice system is verbotten for a reason (similarly they shouldn't have commented on the outcome of the Colton Bushie case specifically).

In this case though, if they looked at the legislation around procurement ethic rules, looked at the impact, decided they didn't like it, they should have made the decision publicly and amended the legislation, vice this backdoor silliness. Reviewing/updating something when it hits the practical realities of the world is what any responsible policy maker should do, but they keep trying to backdoor it.

The people that come up with those kinds of policies are generally ivory tower policy wonks without any real business acumen, so this is another example of where the policy intent may have an outsized impact during procurement. Sometimes they don't anticipate/appreciate the impact of legislation and something comes across they may not like. That's why a process exists to allow legislation to be amended/updated.

The VAdm prosecution is a different kind of bad where they are using their power and influence to punish someone via the justice system, and heads should roll for that. The SNC situation also stinks, but it's a good example of a party that used 'transparent and open government' as a buzzword for election doing the opposite.

Does seem like a pretty immediate karmic balance though.  They fired the former AG, tried to spin it like it wasn't a downgrade, then are almost immediately bit on the arse. Seems pretty feckless to expect people to cover for you after you discard them.

Offline Brihard

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2019, 18:38:48 »
Does seem like a pretty immediate karmic balance though.  They fired the former AG, tried to spin it like it wasn't a downgrade, then are almost immediately bit on the arse. Seems pretty feckless to expect people to cover for you after you discard them.

Are we taking bets on when she crosses the floor? She could do so while continuing to primly (and accurately) cliam solicitor-client privilege- and that would speak volumes. She would be an instantly valued member of the CPC, and could potentially tip an election that is suddenly more open to contention than it was a few days ago.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 18:58:33 by Brihard »
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2019, 01:33:58 »
Not sure the CPC would trust her enough. plus I think she may come out of this as the only one not covered in poop. If this takes down JT the Liberal party may need her to rebuild.

Offline Journeyman

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2019, 09:06:55 »
Regrettably, I suspect that some people are rubbing their hands too gleefully, ignoring Canadian's disinterest in most things political … except for some niche groups with a personal interest -- pipelines, defence procurement, aboriginal apologies, etc;  governmental ethics doesn't seem to have a strong constituency. 

I'd be surprised if this doesn't become a forgotten tempest in a teapot to all except for some diminishingly reported upon Opposition politicians.  Your average Canadian will once again be transfixed by the latest 'roll up the rim.'

Sad, but my  :2c: nonetheless.

Offline Remius

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2019, 09:34:33 »
Regrettably, I suspect that some people are rubbing their hands too gleefully, ignoring Canadian's disinterest in most things political … except for some niche groups with a personal interest -- pipelines, defence procurement, aboriginal apologies, etc;  governmental ethics doesn't seem to have a strong constituency. 

I'd be surprised if this doesn't become a forgotten tempest in a teapot to all except for some diminishingly reported upon Opposition politicians.  Your average Canadian will once again be transfixed by the latest 'roll up the rim.'

Sad, but my  :2c: nonetheless.

Your 2c is pretty accurate.  I doubt this will take down the LPC.  A few more things like this might but this in particular won’t.  Also she’d likely sit as an independant before crossing if anything.  Her salary as a minister would be hard to give up...
Optio

Offline suffolkowner

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Re: Alleged PMO obstruction in SNC Lavalin case
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2019, 10:47:31 »
I'm curious why we don't see in Canadian politics more caucus revolts like our Australian friends. Our political party leaders being elected from the general membership and then the caucus gets stuck with maybe an inferior "boss" and PMO. Party discipline just seems extremely strong here even at the expense of future party success. I can see the Liberal party being reduced to a minority in the next election as some of the mushy movable vote switching back to the Conservatives plus the youth vote might not come out as strong with pot already legal