Jody Wilson-Raybould on Wednesday detailed what she described as a “consistent and sustained effort” by federal officials to “politically interfere” in her role as attorney-general.
In her testimony before the House of Commons justice committee, the former justice minister and attorney-general said she was “hounded” to negotiate a settlement with SNC-Lavalin, the Quebec-based engineering giant facing charges of fraud and corruption.
Mostly freed by an order-in-council from the confines of solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidence, Ms. Wilson-Raybould laid out a cast of characters that she said were involved in the controversy between September and December of last year.
“These events involved 11 people – excluding myself and my political staff – from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Office of the Minister of Finance,” she told the committee. “This included in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails and text messages.”
The Globe and Mail confirmed the names with her office and takes a closer look at the 11 people – who they are and what Ms. Wilson-Raybould said in her testimony about their alleged involvement.
Justin Trudeau: Prime Minister of Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing his largest scandal since taking office in 2015. In her testimony, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said she had a meeting with the Prime Minister on Sept. 17 regarding another matter.
But, she said he raised the SNC-Lavalin issue “immediately,” asking her to find a solution for the company, repeatedly citing risks of job losses and that the engineering firm would move its headquarters away from Montreal. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said she had decided not to issue a directive to the director of public prosecutions in this case, as it was not appropriate.
She said Mr. Trudeau then stressed that there is a provincial election in Quebec and said he is an MP in the province. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said she outright asked if he was politically interfering with her role and decision as attorney-general, to which he replied, “No, no, no, we just need to find a solution.”
In a December conversation with Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said Mr. Wernick repeatedly invoked the Prime Minister’s name, saying Mr. Trudeau was concerned. To her, these amounted to “veiled threats.”
On Jan. 7, the Prime Minister informed Ms. Wilson-Raybould that she was being shuffled to minister of veterans affairs; she said she believed the reason was because of the SNC case. In response to her testimony, Mr. Trudeau said he disagreed with her characterization of events and that he and his staff acted appropriately in the matter.
Bill Morneau: Minister of Finance
Minister of Finance Bill Morneau was an experienced businessman and a political newcomer when he successfully ran as a Liberal candidate for the Toronto Centre riding in 2015. Mr. Morneau came under scrutiny after The Globe reported in October of 2017 that he had not placed his substantial personal holdings into a blind trust, an approach the Prime Minister had held up as the gold standard for avoiding conflicts of interest. Mr. Morneau said he was not doing anything against the rules, but subsequently said he would sell his shares in his family’s human-resources firm and put other assets in a blind trust.
In her testimony, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said Mr. Morneau raised concerns about potential job losses should SNC-Lavalin not receive a deferred prosecution agreement, describing a conversation she had with Mr. Morneau on Sept. 19 in the House of Commons.
“He again stressed the need to save jobs, and I told him that engagements from his office to mine on SNC had to top – that they were inappropriate,” she said. “They did not stop,” she said, adding that her chief of staff subsequently received calls from Ben Chin and Justin To, both from the Minister of Finance’s office, regarding SNC-Lavalin and deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs).
On Thursday, Mr. Morneau denied doing anything improper, saying it was “entirely appropriate” for his staff to speak with the Justice Minister’s staff about the economic effects of their decisions.
Ben Chin: Chief of staff to the Minister of Finance
Ben Chin began his career as a broadcast journalist, moving to politics in 2005 as a communications adviser to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty. He unsuccessfully ran for the Ontario Liberals in the Toronto-Danforth by-election in 2006. Mr. Chin was vice-president of communications for the Ontario Power Authority between 2009 and 2011, and in 2013 was called to testify before a provincial legislative committee looking into a decision by the government to cancel plans to build two gas-fired power plants before the 2011 election.
Mr. Chin served as communications director for former B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark from December, 2012, until July, 2017, later that year moving to federal politics as a senior adviser to Mr. Morneau. In May of 2018, he became the minister’s chief of staff. Lobbying records show SNC-Lavalin representatives met with Mr. Morneau and Mr. Chin on Sept. 18, to discuss subjects including “justice and law enforcement.”
Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s statement said one of the first communications she had about a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin came on Sept. 6, when Mr. Chin told her chief of staff that if the company did not get a DPA, “they will leave Montreal, and it’s the Quebec election right now, so we can’t have that happen.”
In another reference to Mr. Chin, Ms. Wilson-Raybould described a follow-up conversation between him and a member of her staff on Sept. 11, in which she says Mr. Chin noted that “SNC’s legal counsel was Frank Iacobucci, and further detailed what the terms were that SNC was prepared to agree to – stating that they viewed this as a negotiation.”
Mathieu Bouchard: Senior adviser, Prime Minister’s Office
Mathieu Bouchard is a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, with a particular focus on Quebec and legal issues. Prior to joining the PMO in November of 2015, he was a lawyer with Montreal firm Irving Mitchell Kalichman LLP, where he worked in corporate and civil litigation as well as human-rights law.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony had numerous references to SNC-related communications with Mr. Bouchard. She said her then-chief of staff, Jessica Prince, had a phone call with Mr. Bouchard and Elder Marques, also from the PMO, on Sept. 16.
In this call, they said her office should get external advice on the SNC-Lavalin matter and they mentioned the context of a Quebec election. On Sept. 19, they had another call with Ms. Prince, in which they suggested an “informal reach out” to the director of public prosecutions. Ms. Prince said Ms. Wilson-Raybould was not comfortable with that and this likely constituted political interference.
On Oct. 18, Mr. Bouchard called Ms. Prince and asked that the Attorney-General consider seeking an external legal opinion on the prosecutor’s decision not to offer a deferred prosecution agreement. Mr. Bouchard repeated this request to Ms. Prince on Oct. 26. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said he told Ms. Prince that there could be negative consequences should SNC-Lavalin announce it is moving its headquarters out of Canada.
“We can have the best policy in the world, but we need to get re-elected,” he allegedly said. On Nov. 22, Ms. Wilson-Raybould met with Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Marques. She said it was a lengthy meeting where Mr. Bouchard said Ms. Wilson-Raybould needed to find a solution, even though she said she had already made up her mind not to intervene.
Amy Archer: Policy adviser, Prime Minister’s Office
Amy Archer has a BA in political studies from Queen’s University and a law degree from the University of Western Ontario, according to her LinkedIn profile. The profile says she articled at McCarthy Tétrault and worked there as a litigation associate for two years, then moved to a job at Lerners LLP.
She became a senior adviser to Ontario’s government House leader in 2014. From there, she took a post as senior policy adviser with the attorney-general of Ontario in 2017. She went on to become a policy adviser in the PMO, joining several other former Ontario Liberal staffers who found jobs on Parliament Hill after the Progressive Conservatives won the June provincial election.
In Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s opening statement, she says she got a note from her staff on Sept. 7 on the role of the attorney-general; she said the note was shared with Elder Marques and Ms. Archer.
Michael Wernick: Clerk of the Privy Council Office
A 61-year-old career civil servant, Michael Wernick ascended through the bureaucracy to the top job of Clerk of the Privy Council in 2016. In the role, he is tasked with helping to implement the vision of the government of the day. Mr. Wernick testified before the justice committee on Feb. 21, where he maintained that Ms. Wilson-Raybould – whom he described as a partner, ally and friend – was not subjected to “inappropriate pressure.”
Ms. Wilson-Raybould detailed several occasions when she spoke with Mr. Wernick about the SNC-Lavalin matter. She said she met with the Prime Minister and Mr. Wernick on Sept. 17 on an unrelated issue, but that Mr. Trudeau immediately brought up the SNC-Lavalin case, flagging the potential economic consequences if there is no deferred prosecution agreement.
“Then, to my surprise, the Clerk started to make the case for the need to have a DPA,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould told MPs, adding that Mr. Wernick referred to a coming SNC-Lavalin board meeting and an election in Quebec. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said that at meeting two days later, the Clerk brought up potential job losses.
On Dec. 19, Mr. Wernick called Ms. Wilson-Raybould and told her the Prime Minister is “quite determined, quite firm” on the SNC-Lavalin matter, according to her testimony. “He said: ‘I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another,’” she said.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould said that on Jan. 11, Mr. Wernick told her deputy minister that a cabinet shuffle is happening and that the SNC-Lavalin matter will be one of the priorities for the new minister.
Elder Marques: Senior adviser, Prime Minister’s Office
Elder Marques is a former top commercial litigator and trial lawyer from McCarthy Tétrault. Mr. Marques, who once served as the law clerk to now-retired Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin, joined the Liberal government in 2016 as chief of staff to Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains.
In 2017, he became a senior adviser in the PMO and was named by The Hill Times as one of the 15 most influential unelected people in federal government. Since 2017, SNC-Lavalin lobbied federal officials – including Mr. Marques – a total of more than 50 times on the topic of “justice” and “law enforcement,” according to the federal lobbyists registry.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould said that on Sept. 16, her then-chief of staff, Ms. Prince, had a call with Mr. Marques and Mr. Bouchard, another senior PMO adviser.
“They said that they think we should be able to find a more reasonable resolution here,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould testified, adding that the two mentioned the coming SNC-Lavalin board meeting and the Quebec election. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said they asked Ms. Prince if the office was open to suggesting to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada that it get outside advice. The men told Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff that “they didn’t want to cross any lines.”
In a Sept. 19 call with Ms. Prince, Mr. Marques and Mr. Bouchard raised the idea of “an informal reach-out” to the director of public prosecutions, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said. They asked if it would still constitute political interference if Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s staff or her deputy minister reached out to the director, she said.
On Nov. 22, after Ms. Wilson-Raybould had told various officials that SNC-Lavalin would not be getting a DPA, she had a “quite long” meeting with Mr. Marques and Mr. Bouchard, she said. They “continued to plead their case,” she said.
Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to the Prime Minister
Gerald Butts and Mr. Trudeau have a long history. They met as university students when they were both English majors at McGill University. Mr. Butts, a two-time university debating champion, was a top adviser to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and formerly the CEO of the World Wildlife Fund’s Canadian office.
He was principal secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau – and one of the PM’s most trusted advisers – from 2015 until his abrupt resignation on Feb. 18. In his letter of resignation, he said any accusation that he put pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould is “simply not true.”
In her testimony, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said she met with Mr. Butts on Dec. 5, a meeting in which she says she stressed that she had made up her mind on SNC-Lavalin and that further engagements were inappropriate; he said he needed her to find a solution. According to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, he said the statute involved in the matter was one passed under the previous Harper administration and that he did not like the law.
On Dec. 18, Mr. Butts and Katie Telford, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, met with Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff, where they again asked for a solution. In a text conversation, her chief of staff cited Mr. Butts as saying “there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.” On Thursday, Mr. Butts said he asked the Justice committee that he be allowed to testify.
Justin To: Director of policy and deputy chief of staff to the Minister of Finance
Justin To is director of policy and deputy chief of staff to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, a department where he has worked since September, 2017. Before that, he was a deputy director of policy along with finance and economic adviser to Prime Minister Trudeau; he also worked as a senior policy adviser to the former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
According to Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, her chief of staff spoke with Mr. To and Mr. Morneau’s chief of staff on Sept. 20, in their capacity as members of the Finance Minister’s office, about SNC and deferred prosecution agreements. This occurred the day after she said she had told the Finance Minister that engagements on the matter from his office were inappropriate and needed to stop.
Katie Telford: Chief of staff to the Prime Minister
Katie Telford cut her teeth in the Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty, where she quickly rose through the ranks and served as chief of staff to then-education minister Gerard Kennedy. She managed Mr. Kennedy’s unsuccessful 2006 federal leadership bid, served as deputy chief of staff to former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and was a senior consultant at the lobbying firm StrategyCorp.
Ms. Telford managed Mr. Trudeau’s winning bid for party leadership in 2012-13, and served as national campaign director in the 2015 federal election that brought Mr. Trudeau to power. Ms. Telford, who cemented her relationship with Mr. Butts when the two were at Queen’s Park, became Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff and a central figure in the PMO.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould testified that on Dec. 18, her then-chief of staff, Ms. Prince, was “urgently summoned” to meet with Ms. Telford and Mr. Butts to discuss SNC-Lavalin. She described this meeting as part of the “final escalation in efforts by the PMO to interfere in this matter.”
Ms. Wilson-Raybould read from text messages exchanged with Ms. Prince after the meeting, in which Ms. Prince said the PMO officials wanted Ms. Wilson-Raybould to seek outside counsel on whether she should review the SNC-Lavalin decision and recounted Ms. Telford as saying “we don’t want to debate legalities anymore.”
According to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, Ms. Prince says in the text messages that Ms. Telford believed outside advice would “give us cover in the business community and legal community.” Ms. Telford also offered to line up “all kinds of people to write opeds saying that what [Ms. Wilson-Raybould] is doing is proper.”
Nathalie Drouin: Deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney-general
Nathalie Drouin was previously deputy attorney-general for the Quebec government, and has been a member of the Quebec Bar since 1992. Before joining government, Ms. Drouin held senior positions in Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers, which regulates the financial sector in the province. She was named deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney-general of Canada in June of 2017. She had previously served as senior associate deputy minister at the justice department.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould testified that on Sept. 7, her then-deputy minister said her department was working on the issue and provided a list of what some options would be – for example, “informally call [director of public prosecutions] Kathleen Roussel, set up an external review of their decision, etc.”
Ms. Wilson-Raybould said that on Sept. 16, her chief of staff had a conversation about SNC-Lavalin with Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Marques, from the PMO.
“They said they understand that there are limits on what can be done, and that they can’t direct, but that they hear that our Deputy Minister (of Justice) thinks we can get the PPSC to say, ‘We think we should get some outside advice on this,’” Ms. Wilson-Raybould said.
She also said she had a number of discussions with her deputy in which she raised concerns about the “appropriateness of communications” they were receiving from outside the department, and concerns about some of the options she was suggesting.
With a report from The Canadian Press, and research from Rick Cash and Stephanie Chambers in Toronto
Photos via The Canadian Press, Reuters, The Globe and Mail, handouts and LinkedIn