Sheila Copps, former deputy prime minister in the Jean Chrétien government, has become the mouthpiece for the Liberal party judging from her many opinion columns in the Hill Times during the last month.
I believe she must be sipping too much tequila at her winter estate in Mexico.
Katie Telford, the prime minister’s chief of staff in her Dec. 18 meeting with Jody Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff, Jessica Prince is quoted as saying “If Jody is nervous, we would of course line up all kinds of people to write op-eds saying that what she is doing is proper.”
Copps is obviously one of Telford’s standby Liberal soothsayers. In her op-ed she states, “To the unschooled ear, Wilson-Raybould’s testimony was devastating.”
As an “unschooled ear,” I found Wilson-Raybould’s recent testimony to be thorough, truthful and convincing leaving little to the imagination. She basically corroborated, enhanced and to some extent refuted the earlier testimony of the Clerk of the Privy Council. And yes, her testimony was devastating – devastating to the credibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, members of the PMO and the Liberal cabinet.
Copps indicates that she had a “duty to consult caucus and cabinet colleagues” and is “duty bound to consider their opinions.” Based on the Shawcross Doctrine, she had no such “duty” and was not even obliged to consult with any of her colleagues. It was her decision to make and she made it. And once she made the decision, the PM and his staff were meddling in her responsibilities as Attorney General of Canada. And what is more glaring in this case, is that even after she told the PM to back off, he and his colleagues persisted in attempting to get her to revoke her decision.
It is clear, even to the unschooled that SNC-Lavalin does not qualify for a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, as they did not come forward and make “voluntary disclosure” before they had been charged; and in fact the Libyan scandal only came to light as a result of an RCMP investigation which resulted in charges being laid in 2015. The history of this company globally and even in Quebec shows a history of bribery, corruption and other bad behaviour over a period of many years.
Furthermore under a DPA, a “prosecutor must not consider the national economic interest” and certainly must not consider political interests (political influence just compounds the bribery). It is also clear from the testimony to date that she was pressured to change her decision and place the political considerations of the prime minister above her duty to uphold the rule of law.
I am amazed that a former cabinet minister and deputy prime minister has such little understanding of the role of the attorney general and the role of that office as to its obligation to maintain the rule of law, irrespective of the political wishes of the governing party.
Pour yourself another tequila, Sheila!
Ken Allred is a former St. Albert alderman and MLA.