Jody Wilson-Raybould appears at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick ORG XMIT: SKP124
There are numerous Liberal partisans online referring to Jody Wilson-Raybould as a traitor.Nothing could be further from the truth. As ancient Roman senator Junius stated before his death in 359 AD: “The subject who is truly loyal to the chief magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures.”In other words, a truly loyal subject will adhere to the rule of law no matter the political pressure put on them — and oh, my, but it’s a wonder Jody Wilson-Raybould (or JWR as she’s become known) wasn’t turned into a diamond, so intense was the pressure put upon her by the Prime Minister’s Office on behalf of Quebec-based engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin.That Liberals are upset with JWR for her testimony Wednesday before the Commons Justice Committee is understandable. She delivered a bombshell. Whether the government will survive her revelations in the next election will be up to Canadians and how much they — like JWR — value the rule of law.JWR testified that she was contacted by 11 officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the PMO, the Privy Council Office and Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office on the SNC issue from September to December 2018, when she “experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the attorney general of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with SNC-Lavalin,” she said.Her testimony was incredibly detailed, orderly and credible. Compared to the ever-changing statements made by Trudeau since the story broke Feb. 7 and then by the Clerk of the Privy Counsel, Michael Wernick, JWR’s version of events is much more credible.Related During a meeting on Sept. 17, which included Wernick, JWR was asked by Trudeau to “help out” SNC-Lavalin, which lobbied the PMO dozens of times in an effort to avoid criminal charges of bribing officials in Libya between the years of 2001 to 2011, by instead facing a DPA.“In response, I explained to him the law and what I have the ability to do and not do under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act . . . . I told him that I had done my due diligence and made up my mind on SNC and that I was not going to interfere with the decision of the DPP (director of public prosecutions).”To that, she said Trudeau told her “that there is an election in Quebec and I am an MP in Quebec — the member for Papineau.” Not surprisingly, JWR said she was “taken aback.”The pressure, what she called “a barrage of people hounding me and my staff,” continued, she said.On Dec. 19, Wernick told JWR “that the PM is quite determined, quite firm but he wants to know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn’t being used,” she told the committee. “He said: ‘I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another. So, he is in that kinda mood and I wanted you to be aware of that.’“I issued a stern warning because as the AG, I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn’t independent,” she told the committee in her almost four hours of testimony. “I cannot act in a partisan way and I cannot be politically motivated. And all of this screams of that,” she said.On Jan. 7, JWR received a call from Trudeau telling her she was being shuffled out of her role as minister of justice and attorney general. “I stated I believed the reason was because of the SNC matter. They denied this to be the case,” she said.And yet this remarkable woman stood her ground. The pressure didn’t cause her to crumble, rather it turned her into an even finer diamond.What’s most heartening about JWR is when all of this pressure was being applied on her and her staff to break the law for SNC, she didn’t know that these backroom dealings would ever be exposed for all the world to see, and she did the right thing anyway.
Jody Wilson-Raybould appears at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick ORG XMIT: SKP127
JWR closed her statement by saying that her understanding of the rule of law has been shaped not just by her family and her four years as a Crown prosecutor in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside, but that “the history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country includes a history of the rule of law not being respected . . . and I have seen the negative impacts for freedom, equality and a just society this can have first-hand.”“We either have a system that is based on the rule of law, the independence of the prosecutorial functions and respect for those charged to use their discretion and powers in particular ways — or we do not,” she declared.So, whether this scandal has a lasting negative impact on Trudeau and his government depends on Canadians and how much they value one of the key foundation stones of our great country — the rule of law and the constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.The fact that JWR refused to advise or submit to arbitrary measures even when she believed nobody but those in the room would ever know is the opposite of a traitor. It makes her a truly loyal subject to Canada — which she called “the greatest country in the world.”For that, the whole country should say, “gilakas’la.” Thank you.Licia Corbella is a Postmedia opinion columnist. firstname.lastname@example.org