Today, readers are discussing Michael Wernick’s testimony before the House of Commons justice committee on Thursday.
The lead story covering Mr. Wernick’s testimony has attracted more than 500 comments. Top bureaucrat says Trudeau, staff pressed Wilson-Raybould on SNC-Lavalin settlement
Lawful advocacy can be spirited debate and discussion, sure. But it crosses that line when the advocacy fails and you remove that person from their position and replace them with someone more maliabe to influencing the law the benefit your best voting block.
So, Mr. Wernick admits that he was in the September 17th meeting that followed the Crown Prosecutor's decision to not give SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). And, he admits that Jody Wilson-Raybould said at that time that she would not over-rule the prosecutor's decision. Yet, Mr. Wernick continued to "advocate," to use his term, that SNC-Lavalin be granted the DPA. I see two very big problems. The first is that Mr. Wernick continued to importune the Attorney General after the decision had been made, with the intent to get her to change her mind. That's a constitutional violation. The second is that as the country's top civil servant, Mr. Wernick isn't just duty-bound to be impartial on political considerations. He's duty-bound to be immaculately clean of even the slightest hint of political influence while running the country's government. I don't think Gerald Butts will be the last person to resign over this affair.
If a giant company that employs thousands of people breaks the law multiple times then they deserve to be prosecuted the same way that a small company that breaks the law can be prosecuted. I am for sure sure that if my little company broke the law then Mr. Trudeau would sure not intervene on my behalf! So in Trudeau's eyes all the animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. Like the ones living in Quebec.
The Prime Minister and his colleagues are entirely entitled to put forward their point of view and add context about the economic impact. Where they were wrong was to remove her from her position - an action that looks very much like retaliation. That one act changes the whole conversation, and makes it look distinctly shady.
The term “pressure” is open to interpretation. It's conceivable the same set of words will be taken differently by two people. This case might really be a case of poor word usage.
Why would Mr. Wernick call her in December to go over a situation that was made clear in September? His view was he was giving her context and making the views known from inside and outside the party. So, from his remarks we are supposed to assume that Jody Wilson-Raybould was living a cave somewhere, cut off from the outside world, not aware of what was happening. Mr. Wernick may be more polished in his approach, but the assassination he is talking about is on the credibility of Jody Wilson-Raybould and her character. He is the one at this stage holding the gun.
Readers are also discussing John Ibbitson’s opinion piece on the civil servant’s testimony: Instead of helping, Michael Wernick may have hindered the Trudeau government in SNC-Lavalin affair
I agree with Mr. Ibbitson. He came across as forceful to the point of overbearing, arrogant, and in today's parlance "bullying." There is the issue not only of the intensity of the pressure, but also its persistence. Butts, Wernick, Trudeau, the whole gang of them simply would not take no for an answer. They kept coming back and coming back, even though the legislation specifically says that the economic impact of prosecution must not be taken into account in making a decision not to prosecute.
The position presented in this article and others is that the political arm of the Government of Canada, of which the Prime Minister and Cabinet are all members, has no inherent right to voice its opinion and/or influence the course of action of its own ministers and administrators. In fact, one might suggest that this is a fundamental purpose of an elected government. Indeed, the political role of the Minister of Justice demands that these concerns be as considered as the will of the electorate. It is the responsibility of the Minister of Justice, acting as the Attorney General to take these considerations into account and apply them appropriately per the rule of law. Perhaps the discontinuity between the political role and the strictly legal one is the problem, and perhaps our government needs to consider a clear separation of these roles in the administration of Justice. To suggest however, that an elected government does not have a right to vigorously communicate and even influence internally is, in my personal opinion, inherently skewed, and is counter to the entire tenet of our parliamentary democratic system.
What Mr. Wernick's account of events doesn't address is the subsequent demotion of the former Justice Minister. That's the smoking gun, as an earlier Globe editorial put it.
George Bay in response:
It's as much a smoking gun as is Jody Wilson-Raybould not resigning if she felt something improper was occuring.
And media wonders why the public is losing faith in our politicians. Even the guy that was elected as the "everyday man" is out of reach to anybody that doesn't pay.
Wasn't a fan of cash for access when Kathleen Wynne was at the trough. Not a fan when Doug Ford is at the cash for access trough. Is it that hard as a politician to step away from this kind of behaviour?
The unwritten rule in politics: You’ve got to pay to play!
Is a “VIP reception” any different than “cash for access”?
Do I ever regret voting for him. What a horrible time to be living in, politically speaking. There is literally no choice out there for me.
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