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Transparency needed to ensure proper charges and prosecution in Wright-Duffy cases

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Today, Democracy Watch called for transparency in the Wright-Duffy situation in order to ensure that Canadians can be confident that those making decisions relating to charges and prosecution are fully independent and cannot be influenced by the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s Office, or any federal politician.

The RCMP recently revealed that the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, gave Senator Mike Duffy $90,000 in return for two things, which means that it is fair to say that Wright should be charged and prosecuted for bribing Senator Duffy, and Senator Duffy for taking the bribe.

The problem is that, in a widely criticized new policy, the RCMP Commissioner has aligned his office with the office of the Minister of Public Safety in all communications about the RCMP’s actions.  Many commentators have raised concerns about how this policy affects the ability of the RCMP to make independent law enforcement decisions (See criticisms here, and here, and here).

“The public has a clear right to know who is making decisions relating to whether to charge and prosecute in the Wright-Duffy situation,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. “Transparency is essential to this process so that Canadians can keep a close eye out for any signs that anyone is attempting to influence key decision makers. This is especially important with reports relating to Duffy having been watered down already.”

To ensure that the decisions whether to prosecute anyone are made independently, the government must also verify that every prosecutor who will be involved in those decisions is fully independent from the federal Conservative Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and if they are not then the government should appoint a special prosecutor chosen with the approval of opposition party leaders to ensure the prosecutor’s independence from the government.

The evidence of violations in this situation is so clear that the watchdogs investigating should all be able to issue rulings charging and/or finding people guilty by the end of August at the latest.  Any delay should be viewed as a red flag as Canadians closely watch to ensure that the facts of this situation come to light and all parties involved are charged and prosecuted in accordance with the law.

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