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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Obstruction of Justice

I don't get it.

Here is an excerpt of Jody Wilson-Raybould's testimony yesterday:

“For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 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.”

So senior government officials, including the prime minister and Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, were pressuring Wilson-Raybould to reverse her decision last fall not to shelve the criminal bribery and corruption prosecution of Montreal-based construction giant SNC-Lavalin. Her testimony yesterday was delivered with great poise and she was entirely credible.

Some will say this is politics as usual--crass influence peddling or party politics at its worst. Others will say it doesn't matter because the PM was not successful in getting SNC-Lavalin off the hook. But let's be clear, if you are caught in the middle of a robbery, you don't get off the hook because you were 'unsuccessful'!

One might also argue that the PM's actions--both the pressure and threats on Wilson-Raybould and the retaliatory removal of her from office, incontrovertibly demonstrate Contempt of Parliament:

"...the House also claims the right to punish, as a contempt, any action which, though not a breach of a specific privilege, tends to obstruct or impede the House in the performance of its functions; obstructs or impedes any Member or Officer of the House in the discharge of their duties; or is an offence against the authority or dignity of the House, such as disobedience of its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its Members, or its Officers." (House of Commons Procedures and Practice Manual)

However, in my view this is not an internal or House matter. What Trudeau and the PMO did was clearly and unambiguously, something much more egregious: Obstruction of Justice.

Obstruction of Justice is a criminal offence:

Section 139 2) Every one who wilfully attempts in any manner other than a manner described in subsection (1) to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

Obstruction of justice is a serious offence because it puts the entire administration of justice into disrepute--essentially, it is as if the PM said to his Attorney General: 'We need to exempt SNC-Lavalin from the rule of law because they're friends of ours.'

That may be great for the Mafia, but it is not really the way one should operate in a constitutional democracy.

Here's what the PM said:

"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."

But no one should give a shit about what Trudeau 'maintains' or whether he agrees with Wilson-Raybould's 'interpretation' of what happened. If there were prima facie evidence that you stole something or committed fraud, and you said to the arresting cop, "I maintain I acted appropriately and disagree with your characterization of the events', what do you think would happen?

Would the cop say "Well when you put it that way, your right--you're free to go and sorry about all this"?

No. The cop would likely laugh in your face and say "Yeah, yeah, tell it to the judge or jury".

That is what should be said to the PM. It may sound extreme but Justin Trudeau should be criminally charged with obstruction of justice, and an immediate criminal investigation by the RCMP should ensue.

By the way, you can, in fact, impeach a Prime Minister.

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