SNC scandal points to signs of political interference: Former attorney general
A former Canadian justice minister says the Trudeau government’s handling of the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal fits with other allegations of "political interference" in Ottawa.
“You have a narrative around political interference in our judicial system,” former justice minister Peter MacKay told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday when asked about Jody Wilson-Raybould's resignation from cabinet.
“As we have with the Huawei executive who was going through an extradition hearing, and we saw an ambassador step down over inappropriate comments there. It is beginning to undermine the government’s credibility, the government’s claim of ethics and arms-length respect for the rule of law.”
Wilson-Raybould – who had been serving as Minister of Veteran Affairs and associate Minister of National Defence – resigned from cabinet on Tuesday amid questions about whether the Prime Minister’s Office pressured her in her previous roles as justice minister and attorney general to help the Quebec-based engineering company avoid criminal prosecution over corruption allegations.
Wilson-Raybould did not specify a reason for her resignation in the letter submitted to Trudeau. She has refused to comment on the allegation, citing solicitor-client privilege.
However, Trudeau’s partial disclosure of conversations with Wilson-Raybould may have waived the issue of privilege, said Mackay who served as justice minister from July 2013 to Nov. 2015 under Stephen Harper.
He added that clarification from Wilson-Raybould – who Tuesday said she is obtaining legal advice on topics she is allowed to discuss – needs to be heard if the Trudeau government continues to deny its possible role in the SNC-Lavalin affair.
“We need to know what she felt, how she interpreted [the discussion],” MacKay said.
“She could have ended this entire controversy some time ago by simply saying: ‘I wasn’t pressured. I wasn’t influenced. There was at no time a sense that the Prime Minister’s Office, somebody on his staff, or anyone made me feel like I had to do something.' What we have is the circumstantial evidence that she was shuffled out, and clearly not happy about it.”
MacKay said that the mounting pressure on the Trudeau Liberals is unlikely to dissipate with a trip to the polls slated for the fall.“This is very detrimental and very serious, and I suspect that this is going to play out now over many weeks and months leading into an election in October,” MacKay said.