Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau, and SNC-Lavalin

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NorthReport

Thanks Sean for clearly stating what is really going on

Ii was obvious yesterday at his Town Hall meeting that Trudeau looked like a deer caught in the headlights

Now whether or not the truth ever gets exposed is another matter as is Telford her name in the PMO who basically stated the Liberals can flood the media with their Liberal lies if need be

 

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Unionist wrote:

From day one, I have wondered why JWR doesn't just say whatever she has to say. If it's important enough to create the sensation that has already erupted, it must be important for Canadians to hear the full story, no? Does JWR strike you as being a woman who is afraid to speak, and only concerned about her own career? Can you seriously imagine anyone taking action against her for speaking the truth publicly? This scandal is getting boring. I'd love to know the real backstory.

When you come into the PC you declare:

I, [name], do solemnly and sincerely swear (declare) that I shall be a true and faithful servant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, as a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada. I will in all things to be treated, debated and resolved in Privy Council, faithfully, honestly and truly declare my mind and my opinion. I shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed to me in this capacity, or that shall be secretly treated of in Council. Generally, in all things I shall do as a faithful and true servant ought to do for Her Majesty.

What is accorded to MPs is not the right to breach this. Otherwise every cabinet member who has crossed the floor or been upset could rise in the House and spill the beans on public record. Only the PM can waive anything covered by this.

I'm trying to understand this, Sean. I have some questions:

1. She swore to "keep secret all matters committed and revealed to me in this capacity, or that shall be secretly treated of in Council." I'd like to know why she didn't resign when first pressured (in September), or when dumped as AG and Min. of Justice (January), but did resign when the Globe did its story in February. Who or what is stopping her? She can tell her story - it doesn't even have to be in the House - publicly, and if and when she comes to some privileged discussions that happened in Cabinet, or something revealed to her in her capacity as a minister, she can say: "I can't specify what was said, done, etc." But nothing stops her from explaining her own rationale for acting as she did.

2. She took an oath, which you quoted (I'll take your word as to the language of the oath). Where do you get that the PM can waive her oath? How is that even conceivable? Reference, please.

3. Jane Philpott said JWR turned down Indigenous Affairs because it was insulting to ask her to manage the Indian Act. What stopped JWR from saying that (if it's true)? I truly really do not get this stuff.

Your assistance would be appreciated.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Unionist wrote:

From day one, I have wondered why JWR doesn't just say whatever she has to say. If it's important enough to create the sensation that has already erupted, it must be important for Canadians to hear the full story, no? Does JWR strike you as being a woman who is afraid to speak, and only concerned about her own career? Can you seriously imagine anyone taking action against her for speaking the truth publicly? This scandal is getting boring. I'd love to know the real backstory.

When you come into the PC you declare:

I, [name], do solemnly and sincerely swear (declare) that I shall be a true and faithful servant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, as a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada. I will in all things to be treated, debated and resolved in Privy Council, faithfully, honestly and truly declare my mind and my opinion. I shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed to me in this capacity, or that shall be secretly treated of in Council. Generally, in all things I shall do as a faithful and true servant ought to do for Her Majesty.

What is accorded to MPs is not the right to breach this. Otherwise every cabinet member who has crossed the floor or been upset could rise in the House and spill the beans on public record. Only the PM can waive anything covered by this.

I'm trying to understand this, Sean. I have some questions:

1. She swore to "keep secret all matters committed and revealed to me in this capacity, or that shall be secretly treated of in Council." I'd like to know why she didn't resign when first pressured (in September), or when dumped as AG and Min. of Justice (January), but did resign when the Globe did its story in February. Who or what is stopping her? She can tell her story - it doesn't even have to be in the House - publicly, and if and when she comes to some privileged discussions that happened in Cabinet, or something revealed to her in her capacity as a minister, she can say: "I can't specify what was said, done, etc." But nothing stops her from explaining her own rationale for acting as she did.

2. She took an oath, which you quoted (I'll take your word as to the language of the oath). Where do you get that the PM can waive her oath? How is that even conceivable? Reference, please.

3. Jane Philpott said JWR turned down Indigenous Affairs because it was insulting to ask her to manage the Indian Act. What stopped JWR from saying that (if it's true)? I truly really do not get this stuff.

Your assistance would be appreciated.

I will try to answer the questions that I can -- it looks like there are some that I won't know the answers to:

1.1) I cannot know why she resigned when she did and not earlier. It could be that it became a judgment call on her part as to whether or not things were bad enough or unresolvable enough. There could be other factors that kept her past her comfort level or made her decide at a given time. It is very likely that the cabinet shuffle spurred some reflection. Whether this was honest at all times is a judgment call nobody can make. How long she may have been in denial or what caused a revelation to her is also a factor. I can say from my own experience that I have stayed in situations past the point I ought to have known to leave and then realized that I should leave along with recognition that I really had the infomration for a while.

1.2) As for her speaking about her reasons, I can only conclude that these relate to experiences that are covered by confidence. I cannot see how if the bulk is covered by confidence that she can make coherent statements with any possible fragments that are not included. I agree with you if the bulk of what she had to say was not covered then she would be able to step around it. I suspect that her contact with the PM and PMO is all by virtue of her position so might all be covered. What has happened since is that an Order in Council has waived much of this. This is what allowed her to speak to committee. I do not believe that This was done for Jane Philpott. It is also limited to the terms of the waiver. There may be some conflicts here. She is not waived with regard to information or communications with the director of public prosecutions. If her conversation with the director of Public Prosecutions contains privileged information that was at the heart of her conversation with Trudeau, then the waiver Trudeau gave could not cover it. Trudeau. She would only be able to speak to communications and information that was not discussed with the Public Prosecutor. It is possible that most of what she wants to say is included there. The issue of speaking in the House is a red herring. The real quesiton is if her partial waiver to cover Trudeau and PM conversations but not infomration discussed witht he Public Prosecutor actually means that much of her conversation with Trudeau and any meaningful context is still barred. I understand she is getting advice on this. It is not a small question and there may be few precedents that can be relied upon without a judgment from a court.

2) Here is a good article about Cabinet secrecy. You can see that Canada is actually unique in just how heavy handed this is (not open even to the courts). This regime came in under Trudeau the first. It referes to documents but you can see that the definitions are meant to be extremely broad. It would be difficult to reference any verbal information without it being subject to a document that is privileged. The wonership of the confidence is the executive so naturally it is the executive (the PM) that can waive it.

https://www.erudit.org/en/journals/rgd/2017-v47-n2-rgd03376/1042926ar.pdf

A couple quotes:

P 262 Cabinet confidences, for example, could have been defined as any information “which would disclose the deliberations of Ministers [...] in connection with the exercise of their collective political responsibility.”76 The federal statutory regime combines the first and the second approaches.

P 264 While agenda, minutes and decisions are all official Cabinet documents, only minutes reveal ministerial views (core secrets). The degree of sensitivity of Cabinet minutes is thus high. Note: any pressure might be contained in the minutes and not in private conversations that could be waived.

P 265 Paragraph (d) refers to “records [of] communications [...] between ministers of the Crown on matters relating to the making of govern-ment decisions or the formulation of government policy.” Letters from one minister to another and notes of informal meetings between ministers fall within this class of documents.84 These letters and notes are unofficial Cabinet documents, which can reveal the collective decision-making process (noncore secrets), and, or, ministerial views...

P 266 These documents are unofficial Cabinet documents which can reveal the collective decision-making process (noncore secrets) and, or, ministerial views (core secrets).

P 294 In enacting section 39, Parliament set out a strong privative clause which makes it hard to challenge Cabinet immunity claims. Section 39 takes precedence over all legal rules which give litigants, agents of Parliament,19 6 adjudicators and judges access to government documents.

P 301 First, why did Parliament entrench executive supremacy over Cabinet confidences? The answer is that the Liberals did not trust judges to handle their political secrets.

3) I do not know the answer to this question. I am not sure that his is a central point and quite possibly JWR could say this. She may beleive that this is not the main issue related to SNC Lavalin. It is also possible that even the waiver, designed only to cover SNC Lavalin is not broad enough to allow a public airing of this.

My comments were not inteded to drill down this far, although I am trying to answer your quesitons. My point was more related to the argument that speaking in the House publicly is somehow covered as a waiver which many beleive it is. In fact that is not the case. At issue is more the waiver the PM gave and why that is not sufficient. Without knowing the details, this is hard to determine, although I can speculate that if this related to back and forth conversations that include information from conversations that remain privileged, then Trudeau's release is not as comprehensive as it sounds and may be practically worthless depending on what information she wants to release.

The one thing that is clear must be that this is a serious breakdown between this Minister and the PM. At this point, who is at fault is a question of trust and the quesiton of whether JWR is justified in saying she still cannot be entirely open is also a question of trust. Both sides say they want to be more open. It might even be true that both sides really are trying but the issue is complicated in law.

Sorry, I wish I could help more.

quizzical

Sean just wanna say ty for the lessons we should've learned in school. 

you've helped me explain to others. 

Sean in Ottawa

quizzical wrote:

Sean just wanna say ty for the lessons we should've learned in school. 

you've helped me explain to others. 

No problem -- but if you are not in advanced political science and law these would not be part of any school lesson.

I think the trouble in many cases is the presumption that this is all simple when in fact it is not.

I learned things I did not know from that article as well....

iyraste1313

3. Jane Philpott said JWR turned down Indigenous Affairs because it was insulting to ask her to manage the Indian Act. What stopped JWR from saying that (if it's true)? I truly really do not get this stuff....

....She was on record from day one as opposed to the colonial Indian Act, I believe Director of one of the Native Federal organizations, opposed to the Indian Act for its racist and colonial character....

Unionist

iyraste1313 wrote:

3. Jane Philpott said JWR turned down Indigenous Affairs because it was insulting to ask her to manage the Indian Act. What stopped JWR from saying that (if it's true)? I truly really do not get this stuff....

....She was on record from day one as opposed to the colonial Indian Act, I believe Director of one of the Native Federal organizations, opposed to the Indian Act for its racist and colonial character....

Am I really being that unclear????? My simple questions relate to why doesn't JWR just talk publicly?? So I gave an example of how Jane Philpott was able to say publicly why JWR turned down Indigenous Affairs - but JWR did not. Of course she's opposed to the Indian Act. But she never ever said why she turned down that appointment. Explain this to me: Isn't Jane Philpott also covered by cabinet secrecy? What's actually going on here?

And I repeat. JWR has shown a lot of courage and principle in coming forward publicly and in her testimony. Why doesn't she just ignore cabinet secrecy and solicitor-client privilege and all the other bullshit and just talk? Does anyone seriously think someone would have the nerve to throw her in prison? Or disbar her? Or what are the consequences anyway for violating those sacred things that no one understands?

cco

She did hire a former Supreme Court justice to tell her exactly what the consequences could be. He knows better than I do. But my hypothesis is that she's not done with politics. She probably sees a future for herself in the Liberals after Trudeau, or maybe in provincial politics in BC. It might be hard to get to take the cabinet oath again after having violated it the first time.

Note that this isn't me saying she's only sticking the knife in Trudeau's back for conniving selfish reasons. Politicians, being human beings, don't have to fall into the caricatured roles of the Noble Dissenter and the Snake In The Grass, as convenient as it is for both the government and the opposition to paint her as those. Who knows, she might even take the oath seriously in and of itself. I do think she's thought out the endgame for this more seriously than the punditry has.

Unionist

cco wrote:

She did hire a former Supreme Court justice to tell her exactly what the consequences could be. He knows better than I do. But my hypothesis is that she's not done with politics. She probably sees a future for herself in the Liberals after Trudeau, or maybe in provincial politics in BC. It might be hard to get to take the cabinet oath again after having violated it the first time. Note that this isn't me saying she's only sticking the knife in Trudeau's back for conniving selfish reasons. Politicians, being human beings, don't have to fall into the caricatured roles of the Noble Dissenter and the Snake In The Grass, as convenient as it is for both the government and the opposition to paint her as those. Who knows, she might even take the oath seriously in and of itself. I do think she's thought out the endgame for this more seriously than the punditry has.

If it's about the cabinet oath (and up till now, the media have always reported that it's about solicitor-client privilege in her capacity as AG, no? - not about cabinet secrecy) - then I asked upthread, how can the PM relieve her of an oath she has taken, as claimed by Sean? Anyone have an answer to that? Can he wave a wand and "unswear" what she has solemnly sworn? I'd need a source for a claim as unintuitive as that.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

iyraste1313 wrote:

3. Jane Philpott said JWR turned down Indigenous Affairs because it was insulting to ask her to manage the Indian Act. What stopped JWR from saying that (if it's true)? I truly really do not get this stuff....

....She was on record from day one as opposed to the colonial Indian Act, I believe Director of one of the Native Federal organizations, opposed to the Indian Act for its racist and colonial character....

Am I really being that unclear????? My simple questions relate to why doesn't JWR just talk publicly?? So I gave an example of how Jane Philpott was able to say publicly why JWR turned down Indigenous Affairs - but JWR did not. Of course she's opposed to the Indian Act. But she never ever said why she turned down that appointment. Explain this to me: Isn't Jane Philpott also covered by cabinet secrecy? What's actually going on here?

And I repeat. JWR has shown a lot of courage and principle in coming forward publicly and in her testimony. Why doesn't she just ignore cabinet secrecy and solicitor-client privilege and all the other bullshit and just talk? Does anyone seriously think someone would have the nerve to throw her in prison? Or disbar her? Or what are the consequences anyway for violating those sacred things that no one understands?

She may believe that this single point that she could speak about is something she has already spoken about. Or she may feel that it is not related to the controversy but something else.

Why does she need to speak to this point as a part of the current controversy.

Sorry I do not see the connection at all. I think RWR considers this self-evident and not something that needs explanation. She believes the SNC Lavalin story needs more explanation but feels barred from going there.

I cannot be sure whether she is really barred or not other than to say it is far more complicated than anyone in the media or the Liberals are making out and without knowing the content we cannot even speculate as to whether she is correct. I beleive that she is terrified of breaking the law on this and I think that is a reasonable position. She also feels she cannot trust the PM on whether she can speak and she is likely correct since he is saying she can speak without knowing what she wants to say.

I saw an article today saying that the waiver she has from Trudeau is about SCN Lavalin only and that it only covers a limited period of time that she does not think covers what she wants to say. Further as I pointed out the exception to this is also information regarding another discussion so some of her conversation even on this topic and even during this time is still barred. She is alone on the risk as well -- Liberals or the public will not cover her legal bills.

She is clear that she does not trust the Liberal leadership with respect to legal advice they are giving her in public.

I cannot say that she is right or wrong, but the legal advice given publicly does not look right -- is more political games agaisnt her. I believe her that she is worried about her legal jeapardy. That said it is also possible that the PM is telling the truth but that she cannot trust him enough to believe it.

It is obvious to me that this is a personal drama as well as a public and political one. It is being used by everyone -- as it should be as it is the job of people to hold a government to account. However, the truth may be difficult for all to determine. It is also obvious that these two ex-ministers are still for now committed to the Liberal party. This is not hard to see. The amount that a person at that level invests is considerable and both want to make a difference. I do not think they want to defeat the goverment that they are damaging but I think they are driven by a principle they cannot ignore. I suspect their personal positions are awful in this.

I am trying to provide some answers here without partisan spin.

Sean in Ottawa

I will also add for people here that their positions are complicated politically as not only are they likely committed to their party and to making a difference but the NDP and Greens do not exhibit enough strength at the moment for them to believe they can make a difference in one of those parties or any confidence they could get elected under those banners. They may also dislike the NDP or Greens or their leaderships. More to the point, they may feel that the incentive for the LPC to listen to them would go away should they leave the party. Ultimately it is the pressure on the Liberal party that is the only way to get the truth out. Should they leave, the LPC would have nothing to gain by dealing with them. I supect there is some residual hope that some rapprochement could happen with this leader or the next.

Another point: I think that Freeland may be a front runner but as long as these two remain in caucus, it would be wrong to count them out. On the one hand they may be blamed for electoral defeat in October. On the other, they may be seen as untainted and they might be able to sign up more new members in a race as they are both more popular in the public. In a race with the NDP -- they are more threatening to the NDP than Freeland is and the Liberals may feel that ultimately it is losing votes to the NDP that is their greatest risk of coming below the Conservatives than losing votes to the Conservatives directly. Further, I think that the potential Liberal voters most angry with the Liberals are those who may consider the NDP or Greens or staying home. The greatest noise is coming from Conservatives who likely would oppose them regardless of the leader they put up so these are not potential Liberal voters. In fact I suspect that the Conservative vote totals are going up more due to Liberal 2015 voters tuning out than those changing parties. The Conservatives could get a majority government without any new voters just by the new voters of 2015 not voting. If the Liberal rank and file beleive this (and if the results in October bear it out showing Conservative vote not increasing so much as Liberals falling) then one of these two could promise to bring those voters back and be rewarded. Liberals like most parties (including the NDP) - will seriously consider running to the leader who offers the most hope of winning.

Unionist

Sean - I'm trying to keep this simple. What partial "waiver" does she have from Trudeau - on solicitor-client privilege (which is what I thought all along, but which you haven't discussed) - or on cabinet secrecy? These are entirely different and unrelated issues.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

cco wrote:

She did hire a former Supreme Court justice to tell her exactly what the consequences could be. He knows better than I do. But my hypothesis is that she's not done with politics. She probably sees a future for herself in the Liberals after Trudeau, or maybe in provincial politics in BC. It might be hard to get to take the cabinet oath again after having violated it the first time. Note that this isn't me saying she's only sticking the knife in Trudeau's back for conniving selfish reasons. Politicians, being human beings, don't have to fall into the caricatured roles of the Noble Dissenter and the Snake In The Grass, as convenient as it is for both the government and the opposition to paint her as those. Who knows, she might even take the oath seriously in and of itself. I do think she's thought out the endgame for this more seriously than the punditry has.

If it's about the cabinet oath (and up till now, the media have always reported that it's about solicitor-client privilege in her capacity as AG, no? - not about cabinet secrecy) - then I asked upthread, how can the PM relieve her of an oath she has taken, as claimed by Sean? Anyone have an answer to that? Can he wave a wand and "unswear" what she has solemnly sworn? I'd need a source for a claim as unintuitive as that.

I have tried to explain this:

It relates to both: the issue of solicitor-client and cabinet secrecy. In the case of solicitor-client - the client is the executive. In the case of cabinet secrecy it is also the executive who retains privilege.

This is universal in law -- the one benefitting from the privilege can always waive it.

The executive in Canada is very powerful -- it is the one with this power and can waive it. The PM is the executive.

I think few in Caanda are fully aware of what executive power really is in Canada. It is actually more powerful here than it is in other countries that come from the same tradition. It can be argued that this is in part a left-over from our Colonial design.

***

The executive has waived privilege on a single topic over a period of time. The exception is any infomration contained in other conversations that have not been waived.

As things are now JWR beleives that there is more she can say now and plans to release more but this was not the simple question some suggest as she does not have a blanket waiver covering all periods and all information. She has sought the advice of experts on this matter as even though she is a lawyer herself, this is not straight forward. The advice from non-lawyers is really a pile of noise.

The debate is also not simple either as a PM would be irresponsible to give a full blanket waiver. It is right that she is concerned and the PM may be right not to give it to her. The problem here is the Liberal spin crew pretending that this is oh so simple.

cco

It's legally the Privy Council Office that can waive cabinet secrecy, recently passed along to Ian Shugart. Michael Wernick's recent testimony has made pretty clear how much independence that office has.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Sean - I'm trying to keep this simple. What partial "waiver" does she have from Trudeau - on solicitor-client privilege (which is what I thought all along, but which you haven't discussed) - or on cabinet secrecy? These are entirely different and unrelated issues.

Since both reside in the executive, Trudeau, the distinction between the two really does not exist. She is allowed to speak about a certain time on a certain subject so long as it does not include information

The waiver is these words of the PM:

“We took the unprecedented step as a government of waiving cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege so that the former attorney general could share her perspective on the Lavalin matter in a free manner because we know that people need to understand her perspective on this,” Trudeau said on his way into a Liberal caucus meeting.

The waiver is time -limited:

"The waiver covers Wilson-Raybould’s time as justice minister and attorney general"

"Wilson-Raybould says the waiver does not apply to anything said or done after she was shuffled on Jan. 14 to the veterans-affairs post — including her resignation from cabinet a month later and her presentation to cabinet last week about her reasons for resigning."

During question period, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer suggested something was said to Wilson-Raybould during that period “that proved she lost her job because she stood up to” Trudeau on SNC-Lavalin.

It does not cover what was said after she was demoted .

The order specifically notes, however, that Wilson-Raybould cannot speak publicly about any information or communications she had with director of public prosecutions Kathleen Roussel about the case.

The problem here relates to interpretation: anything she discussed with both Trudeau AND Roussel woudl be infomration that is till secret. It might be a lot.

Does this help?

(BTW -- the quotes come from two National Post articles which explain the issues. Any bias in interpretation does not seem to relate to this aspect of things)

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-should-be-...

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/wilson-raybould-wa...

Sean in Ottawa

cco wrote:
It's legally the Privy Council Office that can waive cabinet secrecy, recently passed along to Ian Shugart. Michael Wernick's recent testimony has made pretty clear how much independence that office has.

This example relates to a situation in that the executive with privilege is no longer the executive. The former PM no longer has authority to waive anything and the present does not have authority to waive for a previous executive. Note this from your article:

"Typically, the federal government does not enable judges to examine cabinet confidences and decide whether or not they should be disclosed in the public interest," he said. "On the contrary, the federal government usually makes the final determination itself, thus preventing judges from examining the documents and assessing the competing aspects of the public interest."

By Federal government in this quote -- it is the executive with that power.

--and this

Norman's lawyers were seeking a "blanket waiver" to see all the records, and government officials had previously asserted that only the prime minister under whom the documents were created could authorize their release.

 

 

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Absolute fantasy. Again if Trudeau lost confidence IN HIS GOVERNMENT there would be an imediate election. There is no mechanism for leadership confidence in Canada to be expressed in the house. Your example is ridiculous. Dion going was a simple leadership resignation following an election defeat. We do not live in your alternate reality where something else happened. There was no test or measure of caucus or House confidence in Dion's leadership. He brought  the party to a massive defeat and resigned. This is how it works. The leader resigns or the party is defeated. There is no other means.  

I'm pretty sure at the time of the possible Dion/Layton overthrow people referred to Harper maintaining the confidence of the house. Of course if you want to be formal it is confidence in the government not Harper personally but in practice, in terms of the actual English definition of words, when the government loses the confidence of the house it is laid on the shoulders of the leader. They failed. Not the party. There is a mechanism. It's called confidence votes which you have clearly laid out. I never claimed any MP could just waltz into the GG's office and demand to be considered as PM or that MPs could instantaneously express non-confidence. Of course not all votes are confidence votes. Duh. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
 

​This issue is important because you derail a possibly interest question about why Canada does not have the mechanism that exists in most other examples of the British system. Instead of a practical discussion about the merits of the policy we have an extended discussion about the fantasy world you live in where you imagine this exists already.

 

I feel that my comments are jumped on and interpreted as literal. Unionist said the GG has the power to impose a PM on the House. Do you agree? If not why didn't you jump on it?

It takes two to tango and there are a good deal more than two people involved in this conversation. My rabbit hole is getting awfully crowded. 

You guys actually get to discuss whatever you want. If you aren't discussing something it's because you are choosing not to not because I am preventing you.

What is preventing you is your need to have me agree with you. You just can't fathom that I actually just fundmentallly disagree with you about how this conversation developed. I certainly didn't want all the procedural nit-picking. 

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Absolute fantasy. Again if Trudeau lost confidence IN HIS GOVERNMENT there would be an imediate election. There is no mechanism for leadership confidence in Canada to be expressed in the house. Your example is ridiculous. Dion going was a simple leadership resignation following an election defeat. We do not live in your alternate reality where something else happened. There was no test or measure of caucus or House confidence in Dion's leadership. He brought  the party to a massive defeat and resigned. This is how it works. The leader resigns or the party is defeated. There is no other means.  

I'm pretty sure at the time of the possible Dion/Layton overthrow people referred to Harper maintaining the confidence of the house. Of course if you want to be formal it is confidence in the government not Harper personally but in practice, in terms of the actual English definition of words, when the government loses the confidence of the house it is laid on the shoulders of the leader. They failed. Not the party. There is a mechanism. It's called confidence votes which you have clearly laid out. I never claimed any MP could just waltz into the GG's office and demand to be considered as PM or that MPs could instantaneously express non-confidence. Of course not all votes are confidence votes. Duh. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
 

​This issue is important because you derail a possibly interest question about why Canada does not have the mechanism that exists in most other examples of the British system. Instead of a practical discussion about the merits of the policy we have an extended discussion about the fantasy world you live in where you imagine this exists already.

 

I feel that my comments are jumped on and interpreted as literal. Unionist said the GG has the power to impose a PM on the House. Do you agree? If not why didn't you jump on it?

It takes two to tango and there are a good deal more than two people involved in this conversation. My rabbit hole is getting awfully crowded. 

You guys actually get to discuss whatever you want. If you aren't discussing something it's because you are choosing not to not because I am preventing you.

What is preventing you is your need to have me agree with you. You just can't fathom that I actually just fundmentallly disagree with you about how this conversation developed. I certainly didn't want all the procedural nit-picking. 

This post is really problematic Pondering. Here you are responding to something from quite a while ago and very much out of context. You are forcing me to go back and put back the context despite having responded at length several times.

You started this tangant on the suggestion that a different Liberal could be picked by the House than the one that is leader. This is what I was responding to. We refer to the Trudeau government, and the Harper government before it, based on the fact that these people had been selected by their parties to lead them. There is no mechanism for the House to make a person who is not leader of a party a PM. It is frustrating when you start in one context and then drop it and then come back out of context.  Here are your words that I was responding to:

Yup. This is amazing. The situation just went critical. In my opinion this is about more than just SNC-Lavelin. That they are both leaving cabinet but remaining in caucus makes me wonder if there is a coup in the offing. As I understand our system, The House of Commons "elects" the PM. That is, if Trudeau loses the confidence of the house the house can choose someone else to support even if Trudeau remains the leader of the party.

You said that the House elects a PM -- it does not.

You say that the House can choose someone else to support even if Trudeau remains leader of the party. Clearly you are referring to another Liberal as they have the majority (otherwise you would not say even if he remains leader of the party). As I said, there is no mechanism for that. Only another party leader, who could get confidence would be able to become PM and only when an election ahd been recent. Practically, this is not even an option as a loss of confidence in a government normally means an eleciton if one has not been recent. There is no mechanism for the House to show no confidence in a PM while still providing confidence and the opportunity for the government to continue under a new leader. No mechanism for the House to selct individuals.

We had this discussion -- here you are trying to regenerate it - while ignoring all previous responses -- except this one out of context.

The second paragraph you are quoting was from my objection that you incorrectly suggested a party could pick a different PM in Canada while I was raising the fact that a party caucus in other countries can in fact depose a leader. I wanted to discuss the merits of that in Canada but your insistence on a fantasy completely derailed any chance to discuss what exists here and the possible change that exists elsewhere. You fought this completely bogus losing argument until the suggestion that a caucus ought to be able to dump a leader was forgotten.

You probably noticed how irritated I was at how you derailed a worthy question with something that was not true -- over and over again.

Now its back. Shit.

 

swallow swallow's picture

JWR / Puglaas has said why she feels she can't speak fully. Maybe her words are the ones worth listening to on the question? 

Unionist

swallow wrote:

JWR / Puglaas has said why she feels she can't speak fully. Maybe her words are the ones worth listening to on the question? 

I don't think so, swallow. She went public with this scandal. She should just tell all. Tell me again why she feels she can't speak fully? I must have missed it. Seriously.

Unionist

Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould's conservative pick for high court, CP sources say

Quote:

Wilson-Raybould's advocacy of Joyal for the top judicial job may not come as a total surprise to some Liberals, who've privately noted what they consider her conservative, restrictive approach to charter rights in a number of bills, including those dealing with assisted dying, impaired driving and genetic discrimination.

NorthReport

JWR is being advised by a former Supreme Court Justice about what she can comment on but you Unionist know better than him what she can and cannot comment on 

Thanks for sharing

Unionist

NorthReport wrote:

JWR is being advised by a former Supreme Court Justice about what she can comment on but you Unionist know better than him what she can and cannot comment on 

She can say whatever she wants - if she believes what she's saying and has any principles and a little bit of nerve.

You tell me, NR, what the consequences would be if she talks. Jail? Torture? Disbarment? You don't know? Didn't think so.

Oh, gee, well, she's being advised by a former Supreme Court Justice, let me tell you how impressed I am by the high-priced legal advice she's getting!

What a farce.

NorthReport

.

NorthReport
swallow swallow's picture

Unionist wrote:

swallow wrote:

JWR / Puglaas has said why she feels she can't speak fully. Maybe her words are the ones worth listening to on the question? 

I don't think so, swallow. She went public with this scandal. She should just tell all. Tell me again why she feels she can't speak fully? I must have missed it. Seriously.

Asked and answered, I think. You disagree with her. Fine. But she's stated her reasons pretty clearly, even if you don't accept that they're valid. 

Pondering

Sometimes it takes me time to respond to a post. When that post is being critical of one of mine I reserve the right to respond whenever. It does not mean you are forced to do anything. You choose to rebut my defense. You could just leave your original criticism to stand and drop it. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
  There is no mechanism for the House to make a person who is not leader of a party a PM.

You said that the House elects a PM -- it does not....  

I've been assuming people understand the meaning of quibble quotes. From Wikipedia

Scare quotes (also called shudder quotes,[1][2] sneer quotes,[3] and quibble marks) are quotation marks a writer places around a word or phrase to signal that they are using it in a non-standard, ironic, or otherwise special sense.[4]Scare quotes may indicate that the author is using someone else's term, similar to preceding a phrase with the expression "so-called";[5] they may imply skepticism or disagreement, belief that the words are misused, or that the writer intends a meaning opposite to the words enclosed in quotes.[6]

I used the quotes to indicate I did not mean literally.

The person whom the GG believes can command the confidence of the house becomes PM. Logically that is usually the leader of the party with the most seats. There is no rule or law stating that it must be leader with the most seats.

We have 338 seats in the house, hypothetically

  • Conservatives - 100
  • Liberals - 90
  • NDP - 75
  • Greens - 43
  • Independents - 30

You are telling me only the Conservative Leader can become PM and you are wrong. 

For the sake of argument, in the above situation, the largest parties decide to put the Conservative leader in the PM seat. The GG agrees. All of the parties are weak so have trouble whipping votes for the first confidence vote. 

The government falls. The GG thinks another election would lead to approximately the same situation.

The main parties all refuse to work with one another. In the meantime MPs are hustling. The Greens finally have lots of seats so they don't want another election. The Greens suggest one of the independents who is widely admired. 

Are you telling me the independent would not be eligible to be PM because they don't belong to a party nevermind the one with the most seats?

The ultimate power to determine who can be PM lies in the hands of MPs because only MPs can bestow their confidence on a proposed leader.

It is true the GG doesn't have to accept the individual proposed by the MPs but if that individual had the confidence of the house it would cause a constitutional crisis. The GG knows they are primarily a figurehead. 

edited to add

P.S. I don't actually expect any of you to admit you were wrong although it would be nice.

Pondering

I think anyone who isn't willfully blind accepts that The Trudeau government pressured JWR on the SNC-Lavalin case.

JWR stated that what happened did not rise to the level of illegality. She should know. 

The press and the opposition parties are chomping at the bit but there is nothing they can do. The press is reduced to reporting on rumors. 

Trudeau is just brazening it out, ignoring it for the most part, and it might work. 

 The conflict of interest and ethics commissioner is investigating the SNC-Lavalin case. If they come up with something it might keep the story alive. 

The pressure on JWR is that people are expecting something more if this is such a big deal. 

What happened after she left the position of AG is rather immaterial. At most it would seem to be something like this person or that person confirming that she was removed because of her stance on SNC-Lavalin. I very much doubt Trudeau would have said it. We all believe it anyway. JWR said what he did did not rise to the level of illegal so I doubt comments he made after she was removed from office could be that serious. 

At this point it feels like a tease. People are waiting for the other foot to drop. 

Now we have been told she can speak freely in the HoC. So far no has said that isn't true so why isn't she speaking?

Cabinet confidentiality is an important principle. They do need to be able to speak freely and know they won't be faced with innuendo from other cabinet ministers on what was said. It is very significant that it was lifted for the period she was AG concerning SNC. To lift it for when she was no longer AG requires an important reason. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of having cabinet confidentiality. Minsters would feel they had to watch their words. She hasn't offered an important reason other than she has more she wants to say. Well that is not a reason to waive cabinet confidentiality. 

I presume she can speak freely to the the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner during the investigation.

JWR is a very impressive woman but she is still a dedicated Liberal. She still supports the party. How progressive can she be? What is her agenda? Surely she doesn't want to be a backbencher for the rest of her career as an MP if she plans to run again. 

JKR

Pondering wrote:

edited to add

P.S. I don't actually expect any of you to admit you were wrong although it would be nice.

Why is it so vital to be right?

Pondering

JKR wrote:

Pondering wrote:

edited to add

P.S. I don't actually expect any of you to admit you were wrong although it would be nice.

Why is it so vital to be right?

OMG that is hilarious. You guys discussed in this thread how frustrated you are that I won't just admit you guys are right as thought it is fact. You can't even comtemplate the possibility that you are wrong when you are. That's what prompted my statement. 

The comments criticizing me assumed that I agreed that I was wrong and was just unwilling to admit it which is both insulting and arrogant.

You guys have spent pages insisting on interpreting my statement literally even though the word was in quibble quotes and even though I clarified specifically that I did not mean it literally. 

But Unionist can say, without quibble quotes, that the GG can impose a PM on the house and not a peep from anyone. 

Unionist put no conditions on his statement. If you interpret it literally (the way my statements are interpreted) it means we don't need elections in Canada because the GG can simply impose whomever they want on the house. It doesn't matter who wins. It's all up to the GG. 

Sean on the other hand claims it has to be the leader of the party with the most votes. If I take his statement literally we couldn't have a PM if we elected all independents and Dion could never have become PM even if he made a deal with Layton because the Conservative party had more seats than any other party. I guess that goes to Unionist's claim that the GG just imposes a PM. 

Unionist was lamenting that I wouldn't admit to being wrong because he felt compelled to continue posting on the error of my ways which is just so hard on him. Sean has complained twice that he is being forced to post. 

It is bizarre. Apparently they are forced or compelled to post whereas for me it's a choice which is why it is my fault alone for derailing the thread. I had no idea I am so powerful. 

 

Unionist

Pondering wrote:

But Unionist can say, without quibble quotes, that the GG can impose a PM on the house and not a peep from anyone.

Correct. When a government (NOT the PM) loses the confidence of the House, the Governor-General can ask anyone to assemble an executive committee (which we like to call a cabinet, or a government) and try to gain that confidence, propose legislation, etc. The House, of course, will decide - if it doesn't like the results, it can again vote non-confidence. Or, the G-G may decided it's time to dissolve and call elections.

Pondering wrote:

Unionist put no conditions on his statement. If you interpret it literally (the way my statements are interpreted) it means we don't need elections in Canada because the GG can simply impose whomever they want on the house. It doesn't matter who wins. It's all up to the GG. 

The Governor-General has zero say over who sits as a Member of Parliament. Zero say. Zero. (Sorry, I'm being repetitious, so that when you're interpreting me "literally", there's a better chance that you'll read what I say.)

Similarly, the House has zero say over who the PM is. Zero say. Zero.

I assume you're aware that the PM does not need to be a Member of Parliament? Yes? No?

Are you reading me? Hello??

Pogo Pogo's picture

The Governor General has no strict constraints.  However the Governor General is mandated (unwritten constitution stuff) to choose the person best suited to command the confidence of the house. So there is a role of the members of the house, not to formally nominate candidates, but through agreements and such (Layton/Dion) to demonstrate to the GG that a person is the best candidate to choose.

To Unionist's point looking through history there were two times when a Prime Minister was chosen from the Senate.  They may also lead the majority party after an election, but have lost their own seat as well. There is an obligation though for the Prime Minister if not an MP to enter the House as soon as possible. 

NorthReport

What are the Liberals afraid of, what are they hiding from by shuting down all these House of Commons Committees? First the Justice Committee, and now the Ethics Committee are closed for the nation's business

I know they wish they could, so are the Liberals going to close Parliament next?

This is indeed sad times for Candian politics!

Liberals block push for ethics committee probe of SNC-Lavalin scandal

 

 

https://globalnews.ca/news/5096806/snc-lavalin-scandal-ethics-committee-justin-trudeau/

Unionist

Pogo wrote:

The Governor General has no strict constraints.  However the Governor General is mandated (unwritten constitution stuff) to choose the person best suited to command the confidence of the house.

Exactly correct.

Pogo wrote:

So there is a role of the members of the house, not to formally nominate candidates, but through agreements and such (Layton/Dion) to demonstrate to the GG that a person is the best candidate to choose.

Exactly correct.

Pogo wrote:

To Unionist's point looking through history there were two times when a Prime Minister was chosen from the Senate.  They may also lead the majority party after an election, but have lost their own seat as well. There is an obligation though for the Prime Minister if not an MP to enter the House as soon as possible. 

Exactly correct.

Thank you, Pogo.

But I don't expect Pondering to say: "Thanks, I wasn't aware of that, I stand corrected." Sadly.

JKR

Pondering wrote:

For the sake of argument, in the above situation, the largest parties decide to put the Conservative leader in the PM seat. The GG agrees. All of the parties are weak so have trouble whipping votes for the first confidence vote. 

The government falls. The GG thinks another election would lead to approximately the same situation.

The main parties all refuse to work with one another. In the meantime MPs are hustling. The Greens finally have lots of seats so they don't want another election. The Greens suggest one of the independents who is widely admired. 

I think without MP’s advising the GG that another person is able to attain the confidence of the House, the GG has to call an election when a government loses the confidence of the House. I think a GG would not keep a PM in power that has lost the confidence of the House just because they thought another election would produce similar results. There’s no way a GG could base their actions on that kind of presumption.

Pogo Pogo's picture

Unionist wrote:

Thank you, Pogo.

But I don't expect Pondering to say: "Thanks, I wasn't aware of that, I stand corrected." Sadly.

I kind of knew all this, much of it was the high drama points of Canadian politcial history.  But I was amazed at the wealth of information that is on the web.  That we are even discussing it reflects badly on us (we are the sum of our parts).

Pondering

Unionist wrote:

he Governor-General has zero say over who sits as a Member of Parliament. Zero say. Zero. (Sorry, I'm being repeTtitious, so that when you're interpreting me "literally", there's a better chance that you'll read what I say.)

I said ......IF........ I interpret you literally which I do not (and/or take it out of context).  Now I could continue this conversations with but you said the GG can impose a PM on the house now admit you were wrong, admit it, admit it that's what you said.  You can't change it now, now you are just avoiding blah blah blah. That is what I think derails conversations and turns them into ridiculous exchanges that few people can follow or bother to follow. 

Pogo Pogo's picture

When we are at a point where splitting hairs is the point, then really is there a point to it all?

No one in particular, though some are worse than others.

Unionist

Pondering wrote:

Now I could continue this conversations with but you said the GG can impose a PM on the house now admit you were wrong, admit it, admit it that's what you said.  You can't change it now, now you are just avoiding blah blah blah

Let's dial this down. I never said what you're claiming. You just didn't read carefully, or didn't understand, or forgot.

First - the House doesn't have a PM. So no one can impose a PM on the House. The PM is the head of the government. That's the executive branch. The House is the legislative branch.

Having said that, let's review what I said on March 4 - because what I said then was accurate, and I can repeat exactly the same thing now if you like. But I will not accept your distortion of my very clear comments.

========================================

Pondering, on March 4, 2019 wrote:

As I understand our system, The House of Commons "elects" the PM.

Unionist wrote:

Wrong. The House has no say in the matter. In "normal" situations, the PM is the leader of the party which forms the government. S/he is appointed by the governor-general, based on the latter's estimation of which party has the confidence of the House. The PM need not be a member of Parliament.

Pondering wrote:

That is, if Trudeau loses the confidence of the house the house can choose someone else to support even if Trudeau remains the leader of the party.

Unionist wrote:

Trudeau can't lose the confidence of the House (if he ever had it!), and the House has no say. It's up to the party, which would then normally be rubber-stamped by the G-G.

====================================

Paladin1

Unionist wrote:

But I don't expect Pondering to say: "Thanks, I wasn't aware of that, I stand corrected." Sadly.

 

Pondering please throw yourself at Unionists feet and tell him how smart and great he is so he stops pouting.

Pondering

LOL Paladin, I'm done anyway. I should probably be studying something important but I would prefer to try to learn this as I am in a Rudy Mancuso kind of mood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI59tjW6qSo 

Unionist

Pondering wrote:

LOL Paladin, I'm done anyway. I should probably be studying something important but I would prefer to try to learn this as I am in a Rudy Mancuso kind of mood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI59tjW6qSo 

I answered your question - didn't realize you weren't interested in my reply. Next time, think twice before asking please. Glad to see Paladin got a laugh out of you, though.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

P.S. I don't actually expect any of you to admit you were wrong although it would be nice.

How arrogant. Of course we would never expect you to admit you were wrong except that you skate away trying to change what you said by degrees until it is no longer recognizable. Why the hell do you do this????

You raised a speculation and here we are what a month later after it has been blown up coming back with bullshit scenarios that have nothing to do with what you suggested.

I know you are incapable of admitting your own fault but --

You started speculating about a different leader from the Liberal party being PM. You speculated about confidence votes. All this in the here and now. All bullshit.

Confidence vote would be won by the government or lost and an eleciton -- in this context.

There is no mechanism AT ALL for any party to have a say in the leadership and PM from another party. There is no mechanism for members of caucus to change their leader with or without other parties.

You bullshit on arrogantly thinking that if you are persistent anough with your bullshit that people will actually give up and say you were right. Arrogant you are.

Of course there is a mechanism that I wanted to discuss that exists in other countries for a party in power to change leaders without losing government. I actually wanted to discuss this as a worthy option here. Your screaming fantasies completely derailed that conversation. I have been waiting for you bullshit train to slow down so we could actually talk about that as a real means to move some power from the PMO back to the House. Instead we engage in more bullshit.

Now Fucking please-- if you are going to rock on with this stupid train -- instead of waiting till things dies down and restarting the same crap that has been responded to in detail actually support with real facts how your ORIGINAL point could be a reality. This point is your contention that the House could somehow select a different MP of the Liberal Party to be PM in the here and now.

Or it is you who should ask forgiveness not trying to change the conversation to about the Greens and a compromise that may or might not exist in your fantasy about a newly elected hung minority parliament that has just about no chance of coming true and has nothing at all to do with what you presented as some hopeful idea of the House showing lack of confidence in Trudeau, picking a new Liberal leader and continuing without an election in this term.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Sean on the other hand claims it has to be the leader of the party with the most votes. If I take his statement literally we couldn't have a PM if we elected all independents and Dion could never have become PM even if he made a deal with Layton because the Conservative party had more seats than any other party. I guess that goes to Unionist's claim that the GG just imposes a PM. 

Unionist was lamenting that I wouldn't admit to being wrong because he felt compelled to continue posting on the error of my ways which is just so hard on him. Sean has complained twice that he is being forced to post. 

It is bizarre. Apparently they are forced or compelled to post whereas for me it's a choice which is why it is my fault alone for derailing the thread. I had no idea I am so powerful.

We are going down your rabbit hole to your imaginary scenario -- so fucking ridiculous -- that we might not elect a single party member to the House?

Yeah if in this fantasy that woudl never happen, we would end up with a constitutional crisis. We would have one in any number of other ways as well like if the House voted to abolish it self. Should we debate that as well?

The Thing about Dion is even more ridiculous. Where did you but this logic and can you get a refund? The example was a minority, opposition leader, who was appealling to the GG based on having a majority of MPs apparently behind him to be leader. With a majority of votes in the House. A party leader. So how the hell does this have to do with your fantasy about the House choosing a different Liberal to be leader, expresssing nonconfidence in Trudeau but allowing another Liberal MP to continue to govern in the third year of a mandate?

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:

Pondering wrote:

For the sake of argument, in the above situation, the largest parties decide to put the Conservative leader in the PM seat. The GG agrees. All of the parties are weak so have trouble whipping votes for the first confidence vote. 

The government falls. The GG thinks another election would lead to approximately the same situation.

The main parties all refuse to work with one another. In the meantime MPs are hustling. The Greens finally have lots of seats so they don't want another election. The Greens suggest one of the independents who is widely admired. 

I think without MP’s advising the GG that another person is able to attain the confidence of the House, the GG has to call an election when a government loses the confidence of the House. I think a GG would not keep a PM in power that has lost the confidence of the House just because they thought another election would produce similar results. There’s no way a GG could base their actions on that kind of presumption.

Wow. This is basic highschool civics. NOBODY keeps a government in power except the House so of course the GG cannot keep a government that lost confidence of the House in power under any circumstances except one: that is to allow the parliament to be prorogued for a limited period if a formal vote has not yet been held. When a vote has been held and the government has lost confidence formally the GG can only call a new election or ask another party leader to try to get confidence - like the leader of the opposition or even the third party. The obligation on the part of the GG is to find a stable government or call an election.

In the fantasy scenario where the House had - somehow -  only independents, the GG would call a new election since there would not be a STABLE government possible.

 

JKR

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
Wow. This is basic highschool civics.

That’s true. 

Pondering

Pondering wrote:

LOL Paladin, I'm done anyway. I should probably be studying something important but I would prefer to try to learn this as I am in a Rudy Mancuso kind of mood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI59tjW6qSo 

I said what I wanted to say. I'm not even reading the last posts on this topic. Rudy and I have better more self-indulgent things to do. Even if I am as bad as you say it doesn't matter. It isn't having any impact on the world besides, possibly, your blood pressure. Go inhale some cannabis. You will feel much better about it all. 

I'm going back in the music thread to explore what everyone listens too. I can find almost anything on Spotify. 

Unionist

Pondering wrote:

I said what I wanted to say.

More than once.

NorthReport
NorthReport

Legal team told Wilson-Raybould that intervening in SNC-Lavalin case would be unprecedented

 

OTTAWA –As former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould debated whether to intervene in the corruption prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, she received legal advice from her department that underscored what an unprecedented move that would be.

The legal advice prepared by the department set out her possible options on the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, including the ability to seek outside legal advice, but it stressed that no chief prosecutor has ever intervened in a specific case, and that any decision to intervene must be “hers alone.”

Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks with the media after appearing in front of the justice committee in February.

Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks with the media after appearing in front of the justice committee in February.  (ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

“Any decisions by the Attorney General of Canada are hers to make, independent of political considerations or processes, and in the public eye,” the document states.

The Liberal government is in the midst of a political firestorm over whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his officials exerted undue pressure on the Wilson-Raybould to overrule the director of public prosecutions, and direct her to negotiate a deal with the Quebec company under a brand new law to allow remediated agreements in certain financial crime cases.

Wilson-Raybould says Trudeau and his officials raised “inappropriate” political considerations – such as the possibility of job losses in a province where the Liberals are counting on seats to be re-elected. But she testified their actions did not cross any legal lines.

Trudeau and his team, including his Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick and former top aide Gerald Butts, have denied pressuring her, but insisted job losses were a proper public policy consideration that had to be weighed, and said they encouraged her to take outside legal advice.

Wilson-Raybould is seeking to bolster her testimony with copies of emails and texts.

Read more:

Liberals block new inquiry into SNC-Lavalin

We answer your most pressing questions

You might be interested in

Why SNC-Lavalin is so important to Quebec

On Friday, the House of Commons’ justice committee is expected to release her documents along with a new written submission from her, after Liberal MPs denied an Opposition request that Wilson-Raybould be recalled to rebut Butts and Wernick.

Wilson-Raybould’s package of material is about 44 pages in all, according to one committee source, but had to be translated before being publicly released.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, the committee chair, expects the package to be available Friday afternoon.

Quite apart from Wilson-Raybould’s personal notes and texts, the committee has already received a copy of the legal opinion prepared by her old department that was labelled as protected under “solicitor client privilege.”

The Star received a copy of the three-page legal opinion from the justice committee, although it has not been posted publicly on the committee website.

It says the Attorney General of Canada is ultimately responsible for criminal prosecutions.

“She must carry out those responsibilities independent of Cabinet and of any political considerations, and must be seen to undertake those responsibilities on objective and legal criteria,” the document said.

“Whether to initiate or stay a criminal proceeding is not a political matter, and the attorney general of Canada is acting in her capacity as chief law officer of the Crown, not a minister of the government of the day, when she makes such decisions,” it said.

“Policy considerations may be weighed in making decisions on criminal prosecutions. She may choose to consult members of cabinet at a general level on policy considerations but decisions related to the conduct of individual prosecutions must be hers alone and not the result of a Cabinet decision making process.”

According to testimony by deputy justice minister Nathalie Drouin, the legal advice was prepared after Sept. 4 when the Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussel advised Wilson-Raybould she would not enter negotiations with SNC-Lavalin to settle criminal charges of bribery and fraud.

Drouin said she gave Wilson-Raybould’s senior staff a copy of the draft legal opinion on Sept. 8.

Wilson-Raybould testified that by Sept. 16 she had made up her mind after reviewing advice by her department, her minister’s office “and work I conducted on my own, that it was inappropriate for me to intervene in the decision of the director of public prosecutions in this case and pursue a deferred prosecution agreement.” She says she told the prime minister verbally of her decision on Sept. 17.

Wilson-Raybould has never publicly identified her reasons for that decision. Nor has Roussel, the head prosecutor, outlined her rationale for denying a remediation agreement to SNC-Lavalin. Neither is obliged to under the statute or in common law, according to a federal court decision that rejected SNC-Lavalin’s attempt to force their hand.

The legal opinion prepared for Wilson-Raybould outlines clearly that although she could assume conduct of a prosecution, or direct a specific course of action in a particular case, it had never before happened.

“To date, the Attorney General of Canada has not issued any directives in respect of specific cases,” the department wrote.

It says if she did act under the various powers she has to take over a prosecution, notice must be published in the Canada Gazette, although publication can be delayed, but “not beyond the completion of the prosecution or any related prosecution.”

The memo says historically, “the practice of successive Attorneys General has been to refrain from becoming involved in the operational decision-making in specific prosecutions, even prior to the enactment of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act.”

That’s the law that took effect in December 2006 under the Conservatives, which created the independent prosecutions office, with the goal of explicitly establishing the independence of prosecutions from the political sphere.

The justice department’s legal opinion described an attorney general’s powers when it comes to the new law on remediation agreements — a law that SNC-Lavalin actively lobbied for and hoped to become the first beneficiary of. It was then set to come into force Sept. 19, 2018 — nearly two weeks later — and has never been tested in Canada.

The memo says the law sets out specific conditions that must be met before any deal can be negotiated, including that the prosecutor must believe that entering a negotiation towards an agreement “is in the public interest and appropriate in the circumstances.”

The document says if the attorney general disagrees with the director of prosecutions whether the conditions to negotiate an agreement are met, she may direct the prosecutor to reconsider her decision, direct that a specific prosecutor be appointed “to conduct a reassessment and to act on its results,” or take conduct of the prosecution, and appoint a prosecutor to act as her agent to negotiate an agreement.

She can also “seek advice” about the exercise of her powers, and the memo says she could “engage someone outside” the Public Prosecution Service “to assess the case and advise her as to whether the conditions for a remediation agreement are met.”

It is this latter course of action that the PMO officials – according to both Wilson-Raybould and Gerald Butts – were urging her to take, and that she refused.

The memo, which Butts said set out her “options,” says Wilson-Raybould is not bound to accept the outside advice — which Butts also stressed was the PMO’s understanding as well.

The Star has reported that her successor, David Lametti, has sought external advice in the SNC-Lavalin affair, but will not reveal what it is.

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/03/28/legal-team-told-wilson-raybould-that-intervening-in-snc-lavalin-case-would-be-unprecedented.html

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