Ethics czar's SNC-Lavalin report 'affirms the position I have taken': Jody Wilson-Raybould
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2019 3:11PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 14, 2019 6:40PM PDT
Jody Wilson-Raybould spoke out Tuesday just hours after a report from the ethics commissioner found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke federal conflict of interest rules in connection with the SNC-Lavalin scandal by trying to influence the Vancouver Granville MP in her role as attorney general.
After months of review, Mario Dion's report—which was made public on Wednesday—found Trudeau's actions had gone against section nine of the Conflict of Interest Act.
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"It represents a vindication of the independent role of the Attorney General and of the Director of Public Relations in criminal prosecutions—and reinforces for Canadians how essential it is to our democracy to uphold the rule of law and prosecutorial independence," Wilson-Raybould said in a statement addressing report.
"The Report confirms critical facts, consistent with what I have shared with all Canadians and affirms the position I have taken from the outset."
Wilson-Raybould delivered explosive testimony before the House Commons Justice Committee back in February accusing the prime minister, his senior staff and the country's top public servant at the time of trying to pressure her and even making "veiled threats" in an effort interfere with the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin when she was attorney general.
In early April, she and Jane Philpott were booted from the Liberal caucus as the party dealt with the fallout of the scandal.
Trudeau all the while maintained "that I and my staff always acted appropriately and professionally."
Dion's report, however, tells a different story.
The ethics commissioner said evidence showed the prime minister directly and indirectly sought to influence Wilson-Raybould's decision on the SNC-Lavalin file.
On Wednesday, the former attorney general expressed concern over what the debacle means for democracy and government transparency in Canada.
"In a country as great as Canada, essential values and principles that are the foundation of our freedoms and system of government should actively be upheld by all, especially those in positions of public trust," she said. "We should not struggle to do this; and we should not struggle to acknowledge when we have active in ways that do not meet these standards."
Wilson-Raybould also reaffirmed her commitment to "doing politics differently and engaging in important discussions in a way that honours what is best about Canada."
In Wilson-Raybould’s riding, where she plans to run as an independent, voters approached the news of the prime minister's ethics violation with skepticism and scrutiny.
“If you’re not supposed to do something in a certain position of power, you don’t do it, period,” said Roger Nourjeim from North Vancouver.
Vancouver resident Nash Charbonneau said he didn’t plan to vote Liberal anyway, but said the prime minister needs to get his house in order, adding “there has to be a black and white line.”
And Gayle Stevens who voted for Wilson-Raybould under the Liberal banner in 2015. Stevens plans to vote independent this October, bluntly calling the prime minister reasoning that he somehow put ethics aside for jobs “wrong.”
“You blew it, man,” Stevens said. “You’re not going to get in, in the next election. You might as well get out now and give someone else a chance.”
Wilson-Raybould had previously said the election would be a referendum on a different kind of politics, rather than on her or the prime minister’s track records
And because ethics violations don’t come with fines or charges, the final decision rests with voters October 21, on who they believe, and among other issues like jobs, infrastructure, and climate change, how much this chapter of the SNC-Lavalin scandal matters.