Such stark statements: the ethics commissioner faults the PM

When he was the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, earlier than his present job as Ethics Commissioner, Mario Dion came in for sharp criticism for “procedural delays” in his workplace. Dion was contrite, saying on the time, “I wish to guarantee federal public servants that we’re doing our utmost to verify this doesn’t occur once more.”

Judging from his ruling Wednesday on Justin Trudeau’s behaviour in the SNC-Lavalin affair, Dion meant what he promised.

The timelines are breathtaking. We are going to get to extra consequential issues, however check out how briskly Dion has realized to maneuver.

The NDP writes to Dion on Feb. 7, alleging a breach of Part 7 of the Battle of Curiosity Act. He decides there’s been none—however decides on his personal that Part 9 may apply, and writes to Trudeau’s workplace the following day demanding “all related paperwork.” The Prime Minister’s Workplace strikes like molasses, taking seven weeks to ship the primary paperwork—and 5 extra to ship a written response from Trudeau. Dion interviews the prime minister the day after he will get Trudeau’s written response. He receives the ultimate “supplemental written submissions” from Trudeau’s attorneys on July 16; he sends a written draft of his factual findings — the majority of his remaining report — to the PMO three days later.

This may increasingly assist clarify why, after Trudeau introduced on Tuesday of this week that he wouldn’t release a different report from former Liberal lawyer basic Anne McLellan till after Dion launched his personal report, Dion took lower than a day to take action. The man’s new motto appears to be “Why wait?”

There will likely be a lot hypothesis in regards to the impact of this report, together with the timing of its launch, on the end result of October’s election. I’ve no clue. You vote how you want.

READ MORE: Trudeau breached federal ethics rules in SNC-Lavalin affair: ethics commissioner

But it surely’s a hell of a report. And the Prime Minister’s first response prolonged the incoherence of all the pieces he has mentioned in public in regards to the mess: how can he “settle for” the report whereas “disagreeing” with it, claiming to acknowledge that he “didn’t do it the precise approach” whereas dismissing each particular criticism from Dion? Trudeau is left, as soon as once more, bragging about SNC as proof that he takes severely “my job as Prime Minister… to face up for Canadians and defend their pursuits”—whereas blandly leaving any choice over a deferred prosecution settlement to the present attorney-general, David Lametti.

Loads of different writers will likely be parsing this report line by line. I wish to concentrate on two pairs of successive paragraphs—Dion achieves a lot of his impact via juxtapositions that reveal hypocrisy—after which to make a few basic observations.

At paragraph 89, Jody Wilson-Raybould has simply instructed her deputy minister, on Sept. 11, 2018, that she received’t instruct Kathleen Roussel, the Director of Public Prosecutions, to barter with SNC for a deferred prosecution settlement. Trudeau staffers Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques meet Wilson-Raybould’s chief of employees Jessica Prince to ask, in impact, what the hell. Dion notes that of their testimony to him, each Bouchard and Marques “emphasised” to Prince “that they didn’t wish to cross any strains and that they have been effectively conscious of the precept of prosecutorial independence.” Simply sharing concepts! Nothing inappropriate! It’s all so well mannered.

However within the subsequent paragraph, at paragraph 90, Dion notes that “on the similar time, the identical people” in Trudeau’s and Invoice Morneau’s workplaces “have been additionally participating in discussions with SNC-Lavalin representatives and their authorized counsel to help the corporate to find options with a view to provoke negotiations in direction of a [deferred prosecution agreement].”

That is wealthy. The general public prosecutor decides whether or not to prosecute. The lawyer basic decides whether or not to cancel such a choice. No AG in Canada has ever reversed a public prosecutor. So in the mean time that Bouchard and Marques are assuring Wilson-Raybould’s chief of employees that they’re not crossing strains, they’re huddling with the defendant in a scheduled legal trial to determine tips on how to cancel the trial. That’s daring.

Second couplet. Paragraph 189: On Nov. 26, Trudeau meets Frank Iacobucci, the retired Supreme Court docket justice who’s SNC’s lawyer, on one other matter. A briefing word tells the PM that if Iacobucci raises SNC’s trial, the PM had positive higher not talk about the matter, no sirree, as a result of it’s earlier than the courts and the general public prosecutor has made her choice. Once more, this looks as if a richly exculpatory second in an upstanding PM’s profession.

However once more, maintain studying. Paragraph 190: The subsequent day, Trudeau’s males Bouchard and Marques meet one other blue-chip SNC lawyer, former College of Toronto president and Torstar CEO Rob Prichard, to swap concepts about tips on how to keep away from a trial.

Look, solely one in every of two explanations is feasible. Both Bouchard and Marques are rogues sneaking round behind the PM’s again, or they’re performing on his behalf as his brokers to attain ends he needs. Dion considers the primary chance at size and rejects it. We have now unhealthy information for Justin Trudeau: he actually is the Prime Minister of Canada, even for the icky bits.

Studying Dion’s report (Ethics: Endgame) is, on this sense, like studying its prequel, Ethics: Infinity Conflict, written by Mary Dawson and explaining how the PM broke the identical conflict-of-interest regulation when he vacationed chez the Aga Khan. Each public servants discover themselves patiently explaining to the Prime Minister that he does, actually, make selections and so they do, actually, have penalties.

Standing beside his candidate in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Wednesday, Trudeau mentioned his “job as Prime Minister is to face up for Canadians and defend their pursuits.” Chatting with Dion this spring, Trudeau apparently sounded a bit extra stunned that when he does issues, different issues occur in consequence. The ethics commissioner requested Trudeau in regards to the December telephone dialog between then-Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick and Wilson-Raybould, the one she recorded, upsetting many Liberals. The Prime Minister’s personal delicate sensibilities, as an alternative, are shocked by the issues Wernick mentioned. Dion writes that the PM claimed to not know “what prompted Mr. Wernick to make ‘such stark statements.’” Dion, who we’re studying may be brusque, makes so daring as to recommend it’s as a result of Trudeau instructed Wernick to make them.

I wish to speak about McLellan’s wholly astonishing parallel report, which I learn as a considerable vindication of Wilson-Raybould’s work by one in every of her outstanding predecessors, however I assume that should wait a day.

For now, only a basic impression. Many times, Dion’s report describes shut working collaboration between essentially the most senior officers within the authorities of Canada and essentially the most senior executives and hirelings of SNC-Lavalin as all of them strive to determine, collectively, what to do about Jody Wilson-Raybould.

I assume I hoped to examine a authorities working collectively to determine what to do in regards to the engineering agency. However the circles within the diagram are drawn in another way. From years earlier than she made her choice on whether or not to turn into the primary Canadian lawyer basic to countermand a public prosecutor, Jody Wilson-Raybould was the outsider. The insiders all knew who they have been.