Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to reveal devastating information about the pressure put on her during the course of the SNC-Lavalin scandal. In new evidence supplied to the justice committee, Wilson-Raybould backed up her previous testimony with text messages, emails and a recording of a conversation between herself and Michael Wernick, former Clerk of the Privy Council.
Wilson-Raybould stated that the recording was a unique event in which she didn’t have clerical assistance to take notes and wanted to be able to accurately summarize the contents of the conversation.
The former Attorney General took exception to the characterization of her evidence as merely her “experience” and offered the supporting evidence as a rebuttal. In her closing remarks, Wilson-Raybould commented on the public dialogue around the scandal saying “there have been undeniable elements of misogyny, much of it aimed at myself.”
A number of tactics allegedly employed to convince Wilson-Raybould to reconsider her choice to not interfere in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution have raised concerning questions about the way the government alleges they can control public relations.
As previously reported, Wilson-Raybould’s Chief of Staff, Jessica Prince, is said to have been assured that they could “lineup all kinds of people to write op-eds” to support a decision by the former Attorney General to intervene. In new evidence supplied to the committee suggestions were made that they could also control the opinion of former Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin.
Wilson-Raybould summarized a conversation with Jessica Prince after a suggestion was made to consult with McLaughlin about overriding the Director of Public Prosecutions. Ms. Prince is reported to have “asked what if the opinion comes saying, ‘She can review it, but she shouldn’t’ or simply, ‘She can’t review it’ end of story? [Gerald] Butts stated, ‘it wouldn’t say that.’ My [Chief of Staff] informed me that she remembered this very clearly because this response made her nervous.”
Most likely, this claim would make the former Chief Justice a little more than nervous.
After a long and distinguished career on Canada’s highest court, the suggestion that former Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin’s opinion can be coerced or manipulated should be an outrage.
Wilson-Raybould concluded with some commentary on what can be learned from the current scandal. “There is, at the very least, a legitimate perception that we need more robust public processes for oversight, accountability, investigation, and truth-seeking, regarding the functioning of our institutions and that ensure the public interest and public good is upheld. The fact that basic elements of due process, the principles of natural justice, and procedural fairness are not a greater influence and factor in how we go about identifying the facts and relevant evidence of matters related to the operation of democratic institutions is a concern.”
There are many democratic institutions having shade cast upon them: The independence of the media, independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and now the independence of the judges in our court system itself.
As a final note, Jody Wilson-Raybould said she hopes for “a future where we truly do politics differently.” Whether or not the Trudeau government faces any accountability as a result of her ordeal will give the public a clear indication of the chance for that hope becoming a reality.