The damning revelations made by former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould put the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in jeopardy this fall.
That’s as it should be — not to witness the comeuppance of a prime minister who has little regard for the West, but because the alleged behaviour should prevent a person from holding public office.
Wilson-Raybould told the Commons justice committee Wednesday that she was repeatedly pressured by senior members of the federal government to go lightly with a Montreal-based engineering and construction giant.
SNC-Lavalin is accused of resorting to bribery and fraud to win contracts in Libya.
If found guilty by Canadian courts, SNC-Lavalin would be unable to bid for lucrative federal government contracts for a decade.
The possibility of such an outcome, and the ensuing blow to the company’s profits and workforce, was reportedly enough for Trudeau, his senior staff and at least one other cabinet minister to try to politically meddle in a serious criminal matter.
The prime minister, it’s clear, preferred that accusations against SNC-Lavalin be settled in a fashion more favourable to the Montreal company. A remediation agreement would entail simply admitting blame, paying a fine and meeting other conditions. There would be no ban on bidding on federal contracts.
Said Wilson-Raybould: “For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people in the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”
In January, Wilson-Raybould lost her position as justice minister to David Lametti, who represents a Montreal riding, the same Quebec city where SNC-Lavalin is based.
A month later, she resigned as veterans affairs ministers soon after reports of Trudeau’s political interference surfaced.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has called on Trudeau to resign, but it will likely be left to federal voters to issue their own verdict in this fall’s federal election. Albertans, more than any other Canadians, have reason to be disgusted by the allegations levelled at Trudeau.
Albertans understand that laws must be obeyed. They also know that politics and the judicial system must be kept apart. They would never want a prime minister to favour a company and attempt to shelter it from proper legal process, which Wilson-Raybould has accused Trudeau of doing.
But neither would Albertans welcome a government that has acted against their economic interests at every turn. Far from working to create conditions that would allow energy companies to succeed, Trudeau has shown disdain for a leading source of national wealth.
He has exhibited indifference to expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and crafted laws that make future applications unimaginable.
Trudeau could have declared expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline in the national interest and got construction underway. Instead, he appears to have acted in his own interest and the narrow interest of his party.
David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.