Politics Insider

Wilson-Raybould vs Trudeau: What political interference looks like

Politics Insider for February 28: Wilson-Raybould shoots out the lights, Trudeau fires back, and another former attorney testifies against another former boss

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Right from the start of Jody Wilson-Raybould‘s testimony she provided a damning account of what “consistent and sustained” political interference looks like: 10 phone calls and 10 meetings involving 11 people in the PMO, the Privy Council Office and the finance minister’s office.

Unless Liberals offer persuasive evidence that Wilson-Raybould was making the whole thing up, writes Paul Wells, it’s pretty clear “the hucksters and worse” were running the show:

What the former attorney general described tonight is a sickeningly smug protection racket whose participants must have been astonished when she refused to play along. If a company can rewrite the Criminal Code to get out of a trial whose start date was set before the legislation was drafted, all because a doomed Quebec government has its appointment with the voter, then which excesses are not permitted, under the same justification? If a Clerk of the Privy Council can claim with a straight face that ten calls and meetings with the attorney general, during which massive job loss, an angry PM and a lost election are threatened, don’t constitute interference, then what on earth would interference look like? Tonight I talked with two former public servants whose records rival Michael Wernick’s. Both were flat astonished that he seems not to have pushed back against this deeply disturbing, and plainly widespread, behaviour. (Maclean’s)

After hearing Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign, saying the Prime Minister has “lost the moral authority to govern.” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh didn’t go that far, but said an independent inquiry is needed. (Canadian PressScheer’s statement)

Trudeau fires back: The Prime Minister stated again that nothing anyone said to Wilson-Raybould constituted pressure and that she always had the final say on the SNC-Lavalin file. And he said no one from his office will be resigning: “I strongly maintain, as I have from the beginning, that I and my staff always acted appropriately and professionally. I therefore completely disagree with the former attorney general’s characterization of events.” (CTV News, video)

Pundit roundup:

  • Delacourt: For Justin Trudeau, the days of ‘sunny ways’ are over (Toronto Star)
  • Coyne: Damning testimony from a principled witness (National Post)
  • Ibbitson: Trudeau has lost the moral mandate to govern (Globe and Mail)

On four occasions Trudeau, his aides and even Canada’s top civil servant played the “election” card to try to get Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the case against SNC-Lavalin. (Maclean’s)

Here’s just a snippet from Wilson-Raybould’s testimony:

The PM again cited potential loss of jobs and SNC moving. Then to my surprise – the Clerk started to make the case for the need to have a DPA – he said “there is a board meeting on Thursday (Sept 20) with stock holders” … “they will likely be moving to London if this happens”… “and there is an election in Quebec soon”…

At that point the PM jumped in stressing that there is an election in Quebec and that “and I am an MP in Quebec – the member for Papineau”.

I was quite taken aback. My response – and I remember this vividly – was to ask the PM a direct question while looking him in the eye – I asked: “Are you politically interfering with my role / my decision as the AG? I would strongly advise against it.”

You can read Wilson-Raybould’s full statement here.

In none-Wilson-Raybould news…

The Liberals are close to introducing legislation that will pardon anyone convicted of simple pot possession before marijuana was legalized, according to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. (Canadian Press)

In another country, another former attorney testified against a former boss Wednesday. President Donald Trump‘s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, testified to Congress Wednesday, calling Trump “a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat.” Allen Abel describes the scene from Capitol Hill. (Maclean’s)

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