Listen to the new Jody Wilson-Raybould SNC-Lavalin evidence
OTTAWA – Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s new and supplementary evidence, including a written statement and an audio recording, have been made public.
The documents were provided to the House Justice Committee that had been studying the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal, before Liberal MPs shut it down.
This additional material is meant to elaborate on Wilson-Raybould’s Feb. 27 testimony. It was during this hours-long appearance that she detailed what she considered to be months of high-level political interference in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to have her instruct federal prosecutors to drop the criminal prosecution of the Quebec construction giant.
Here are some highlights from the conversation.
‘I FEEL REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE’
Jody Wilson-Raybould: “I am surprised that you and I are having this conversation, but I’m just saying I feel really uncomfortable about the appropriateness of this conversation.”
Wernick: “OK, I understand that but I mean, I think [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s] view is that he’s not asking you to do anything inappropriate or to interfere. He’s asking you to use all the tools that you lawfully have at your disposal.”
‘HE’S IN A VERY FIRM MOOD’
Jody Wilson-Raybould: “I know I have a tool under the prosecution act that I can use. I do not believe it is appropriate to use it in this case.”
Michael Wernick: “OK. Alright. That’s clear. Well, he’s in a very firm mood about this, so, um—“
JWR: “Does he understand the gravity of what this potentially could mean? This is not just about saving jobs. This is about interfering with one of our fundamental institutions. This is like, breaching a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.”
Wernick: “Well I don’t think he sees it as that—“
JWR: “Well then nobody’s explaining that to him, Michael.”
‘YOU’RE NOT JUST BEING ATTORNEY GENERAL’
Wernick: “OK, I respect where you’re coming from—“
JWR: “You know what, I hope that you do, because I don’t think anybody respects this. The conversation that Gerry and Katie had with my chief of staff, and like, she wrote down what they said, like, saying that they don’t want to have anything, or hear any more about the legalities but want to talk about jobs. Entirely inappropriate.”
Wernick: “OK, well I mean, I wasn’t—“
JWR: “Well I have it. I have it all. It’s just—“
Wernick: “OK, but I mean you’re not just being attorney general, you’re the minister of justice and a cabinet [minister] – and, you have context within which you exercise your roles and your responsibilities. Like, I’m not seeing anything inappropriate here. But, um, I mean, you’re right. And the PM—I mean – people are talking past each other. I think the way he sees it and the advice he’s getting is that you still have things that you could do that are not interference and they’re still very much lawful. So--”
JWR: “And it’s not that they’re not lawful. The perception, and what will happen, is it will be deemed political interference from day one when people were talking about why are we entering into or putting a DPA regime in place. Everybody knows it was because of SNC, whether that’s true or not, that’s what people think—“
Wernick: “It’s a tool that’s used in lots of other countries, though.”
Wernick: “—for these kinds of purposes. And especially if there’s been a change of ownership or management in the company that’s being prosecuted. It is a public policy tool.”
‘I’M WORRIED ABOUT A COLLISION’
Wernick: “Alright. Um, well, I don’t – I’m going to have to report back before he leaves. He’s in a pretty firm frame of mind on this though, so I’m a bit worried.”
JWR: “A bit worried about what?”
Wernick: “Well, (incompresensible) for the prime minister, for him and his attorney general to be at loggerheads. “
JWR: “I feel that I am giving him my best advice. And if he doesn’t accept that advice then it’s his prerogative to do what he wants. But I’m trying to protect the prime minister from political interference, perceived or otherwise.”
Wernick: “I understand that. But I mean he doesn’t have the power to do what he wants. All the tools are in your hands. So.”
JWR: (Laughs) OK, so then, I mean, I’m having like, thoughts of the Saturday Night Massacre here, Michael. Like, to be honest with you. And this is not a great place for me to be in. I don’t relish being in this place. But I am confident of is that I have given the prime minister my advice to protect him and to protect the constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.”
Wernick: “OK. Um, alright, but I mean (sighs) I’m worried about a collision then because he is pretty firm about this. I just saw him a few hours ago and this is really important to him.