March 5, 2019

CANADA: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada Is Embroiled In A Scandal Involving Accusations Of Bribery, Back-Room Deal-Making And Bullying Tactics Against Justice Minister.

The New York Times
written by Catherine Porter and Ian Austen
Friday March 1, 2019

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada promised a fresh approach to politics, one that was based on openness, decency and liberalism.

Now he is embroiled in a scandal involving accusations of back-room deal-making and bullying tactics, all to support a Canadian company accused of bribing the Libyan government when it was run by the dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Canadian newspapers are filled with outrage and opposition parties are calling for a resignation. Elections are still seven months away, but some members of Mr. Trudeau’s own governing party fear the scandal has armed opposition parties with rich campaign fodder against its leader, who promised “sunny ways” in politics.

“This is a huge, huge blow to Justin Trudeau’s personal brand and Justin Trudeau’s promise of doing politics differently,” said Shachi Kurl, the executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, a nonprofit polling firm based in Vancouver.

She added: “That shine is not dented or scratched. It’s been completely scuffed.”

The case revolves around accusations that SNC-Lavalin, a multinational engineering company based in Quebec, paid 47.7 million Canadian dollars in bribes to officials in Libya to win contracts there, and defrauded the Libyan government and its agencies of 129.8 million Canadian dollars.

The prime minister and his aides have been accused of pressuring his justice minister at the time, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to drop the criminal inquiry against the company because a conviction could potentially cost thousands of jobs in Canada, and diminish his Liberal Party’s political fortunes.

She did not drop the inquiry, and in January was demoted to a lesser position in the cabinet, a reassignment that many of Mr. Trudeau’s critics believe was punishment for letting the case continue. Ms. Wilson-Raybould later quit that post.

The scandal has been building slowly over weeks and already led to the resignation of Mr. Trudeau’s top political aide, and to Parliament’s ethics commissioner opening an investigation into potential conflicts of interest.

And on Wednesday, Ms. Wilson-Raybould appeared before the House of Commons justice committee, breaking weeks of silence.

On live television, she calmly described the demands and “veiled threats” she received over four months from Mr. Trudeau’s office to accept a settlement in the criminal case.

“There was a concerted and sustained effort to politically influence my role as attorney general,” said Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who, as the first Indigenous person to hold the prestigious post of justice minister and the only Indigenous person in Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet, was a powerful symbol of his government’s commitment to both women and Indigenous rights.

Mr. Trudeau has denied that he or anyone else acted inappropriately in their dealings with Ms. Wilson-Raybould. He has stressed that he has been trying to protect Canadian jobs, as “Canadians expect their government” to do, while respecting the country’s laws and independence of the judiciary.

But so much of politics is appearances, and the optics are terrible — of a self-described feminist, who had promised a new, open and transparent way of governing, sending aides described as his henchmen to gang up on an Indigenous woman in efforts to bend her will.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s appointment to justice minister had seemed proof to many that Mr. Trudeau was serious about correcting the country’s wrongs against its Indigenous population and treating Indigenous people as respected partners in the country, as he had promised during the election.

Now, that legacy is in question because of Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s demotion to the post of veterans affairs minister, which she quit last month.

“Reconciliation also means respecting the voices of Indigenous people,” said Sheila North, a former Indigenous leader in northern Manitoba. “This whole display has shown, in the end, money and power is more important than building reconciliation.”

In her testimony, Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who is a former high-ranking leader of Indigenous groups on Canada’s west coast, reminded the country that its government had a history of ignoring the law when it came to Indigenous people, and said she had witnessed the “negative impacts” of that firsthand.

“I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House,” she said, referring to her Kwakwaka’wakw nation’s center of governance and cultural activities. “This is who I am and who I will always be.”

Many of Mr. Trudeau’s opponents are saying that the entire controversy proves that Mr. Trudeau, who appointed the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet, is a “fake feminist” who uses women instead of supporting them.

“Why are not all women in that caucus, and their so-called feminist allies, calling for the prime minister’s resignation?” said Michelle Rempel, a Conservative member of Parliament in the House of Commons.

The leader of the Conservative opposition, Andrew Scheer, has asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to open an obstruction of justice investigation.

In her testimony, Ms. Wilson-Raybould described the pressure she received as “inappropriate,” but said — twice — that it was not illegal.

The pressure, she said, came in the form of 10 meetings, 10 conversations and a series of emails about the criminal case with senior government officials.

Perhaps the most troubling of the meetings she described was one with Mr. Trudeau himself, who asked her to “find a solution here for SNC,” stating that “there would be many jobs lost and that SNC will move from Montreal,” she said.

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National Post, Canada
written by Staff
Wednesday February 27, 2019

Jody Wilson-Raybould spoke about the SNC-Lavalin controversy at a hearing of the House of Commons justice committee on Feb. 27. In her first substantial public statement on the matter, the former justice minister and attorney general testified that she was inappropriately pressured to prevent the Montreal-based company from being prosecuted in a bribery case. Below is the full text of her opening statement.

Gilakas’la. Thank you Mr. Chair and members of the Justice committee for providing me the opportunity to give extended testimony to you today. I would like to acknowledge that we are on the ancestral lands of the Algonquin people.

For a period of approximately four months between September and December 2018, I 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 with SNC-Lavalin. 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. This included in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails, and text messages. There were approximately 10 phone calls and 10 meetings specifically about SNC-Lavalin that I and/or my staff was a part of.

Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the necessity for interference in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential for consequences, and veiled threats if a DPA was not made available to SNC. These conversations culminated on December 19, 2018, with a phone conversation I had with the Clerk of the Privy Council – a conversation for which I will provide some significant detail.

A few weeks later, on January 7, 2019, I was informed by the Prime Minister that I was being shuffled out of the role of Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada. For most of these conversations, I made contemporaneous and detailed notes – notes, in addition to my clear memory, which I am relying on today among other documentation.

My goal in my testimony is to outline the details of these communications for the Committee, and indeed for all Canadians. However, before doing that, let me make a couple comments.

First, I want to thank Canadians for their patience since this February 7th story broke in the Globe and Mail… Thank you as well specifically to those who reached out to me from across the country. I appreciate the messages – I have read them all.

Secondly, on the role of the Attorney General – the AG exercises prosecutorial discretion as provided for under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act. Generally, this authority is exercised by the DPP, but the AG has the authority to issue directives to the DPP on specific prosecutions or to take over prosecutions.

It is well-established that when the AG exercises prosecutorial discretion, she or he does so individually and independently. These are not cabinet decisions. I will say that it is appropriate for Cabinet colleagues to draw to the AG’s attention what they see as important public policy considerations that are relevant to decisions about how a prosecution will proceed. What is not appropriate is pressing on the AG matters that she or he cannot take into account, such as partisan political considerations; continuing to urge the AG to change her or his mind for months after the decision has been made; or suggesting that a collision with the Prime Minister on these matters should be avoided.

With that said, the remainder of my testimony will be a detailed and factual delineation of the approximately 10 phone calls, 10 in-person meetings, and emails and text messages that were part of an effort to politically interfere regarding the SNC matter for the purposes of securing a deferred prosecution.

The story begins on September 4, 2018. My COS and I were overseas when I was sent a ‘Memorandum for the Attorney General (pursuant to section 13 of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act) which was entitled ‘Whether to issue an invitation to negotiate a remediation agreement to SNC Lavalin’ which was prepared by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel. The only parts of this note that I will disclose are as follows: “the DPP is of the view that an invitation to negotiate will not be made in this case and that no announcement will be made by the PPSC.” As with all section 13 notices – the Director provides the information so that the Attorney General may take such course of action as they deem appropriate.

In other words, the Director had made her decision to not negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC Lavalin. I subsequently spoke to my Minister’s office staff about this decision and I did the standard practice of undertaking further internal work and due diligence in relation to this note – a practice that I had for many of the section 13 notices that I received as the Attorney General. In other words, I immediately put in motion, within my Department and Minister’s office, a careful consideration and study of the matter.

Two days later, on September 6, one of the first communications about a DPA was received from outside our department. Ben Chin, Minister Morneau’s Chief of Staff, emailed my Chief of Staff and they arranged to talk. He wanted to talk about SNC and what we could do, if anything, to address this. He said to her that if they don’t get a DPA, they will leave Montreal, and it’s the Quebec election right now, so we can’t have that happen. He said that they have a big meeting coming up on Tuesday and that this bad news may go public.

This same day my Chief of Staff exchanged some emails with my MO Staff [Francois Giroux and Emma Carver] about this, who advised her that the Deputy Attorney General – Nathalie Drouin – was working on something (they had spoken to her about the issue), and that my staff [Emma Carver and Gregoire Webber] were drafting a memo as well on the role of the AG vis à vis the PPSC.

It was on or about this day that I requested a one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister on another matter of urgency – and as soon as possible after I got back into the Country. This request would ultimately become the meeting on September 17 between myself and the Prime Minister that has been widely reported in the media.

On September 7, my Chief of Staff spoke by phone with my then Deputy Minister about the call she had received from Ben Chin and the Deputy stated that the Department was working on this. The Deputy gave my Chief a quick rundown of what she thought some options might be (e.g., informally call Kathleen Roussel, set up an external review of their decision, etc.). On the same day I received a note from my staff – on the role of the AG – a note that was also shared with Elder Marques and Amy Archer at the PMO.

Same day, Francois G. and Emma met with my Deputy Minister. Some excerpts of the s. 13 note were read to the DM, but the DM did not want to be provided with a copy of the note.

September 8 – my Deputy shared a draft note on the role of the AG with my Chief of Staff who shared it with me, and over the next day clarity was sought by my staff with the Deputy on aspects of an option that was in her note.

A follow-up conversation between Ben Chin and a member of my staff (FG) occurred on September 11, Mr. Chin said that SNC has been informed by the PPSC that it cannot enter into a DPA – and Ben again detailed the reasons why they were told they were not getting a DPA. Mr. Chin also 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.

To be clear, up to this point I had not been directly contacted by the Prime Minister, officials in the PMO, or the PCO about this matter. With the exception of Mr. Chin’s discussions, the focus of communications had been internal to the DOJ.

This changes on September 16. My Chief of Staff had a phone call with Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques from the PMO. They wanted to discuss SNC. They told her that SNC have made further submissions to the Crown, and ‘there is some softening, but not much’. They said that they understand that the individual Crown prosecutor wants to negotiate an agreement, but the Director does not.

They said that 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.” They said that they think we should be able to find a more reasonable resolution here. They told her that SNC’s next board meeting is on Thursday (Sept 20). They also mention the Quebec election context. They asked my Chief if someone has suggested the outside advice idea to the PPSC, and asked whether we are open to this suggestion. They wanted to know if the DM can do it.

In response, my COS stressed to them prosecutorial independence and potential concerns about interference in the independence of the prosecutorial functions. Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Marques kept telling her that they didn’t want to cross any lines – but they asked my Chief of Staff to follow up with me directly on this matter.

To be clear, I was fully aware of the conversations between September 4 and 16 that I have outlined. I had been regularly briefed by my staff from the moment this matter first arose, and I had also reviewed all materials that had been produced.

Further, my view had also formed at this point, through the work of my Department, my Minister’s office and I had conducted, that it was inappropriate for me to intervene in the decision of the DPP in this case and pursue a DPA. In the course of reaching this view, I discussed the matter on a number of occasions with my Deputy so that she was aware of my view, raised concerns on a number of occasions with my Deputy Minister about the appropriateness of communications we were receiving from outside the Department, and also raised concerns about some of the options she had been suggesting.

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