Many were wondering if the supplementary information that former Justice Minister and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Reybould, provided to the commons justice committee would contain a proverbial smoking gun that would shoot holes in Prime Minister Trudeau’s position on the SNC-Lavalin matter. Not only was there a smoking gun, there was also a bundle of TNT that pretty much blew Trudeau’s position to pieces; so much so that it’s hard to determine where to begin. So, in no particular order, here’s what I gleaned from her written documents and explosive tape.
Justin Trudeau’s statement that JWR’s demotion from justice to veterans affairs stemmed from Scott Brison’s resignation from cabinet was an outright lie, as was Trudeau’s position that the pressure exerted by him, his principal secretary Gerald Butts, his chief of staff Katie Telford and the disgraced privy council clerk Michael Wernick was simply normal politics.
Wernick, who made it clear on the taped call that he was speaking directly on behalf of Trudeau, obviously threatened JWR and refused to back off even when she repeatedly told him she would not change her mind and that she was really trying to protect the PM. She also repeatedly cautioned Wernick that she felt this conversation, and others she’d had to endure, were inappropriate and would be considered by any objective observer as political interference in a judicial matter. She even went so far as to ask Wernick if anyone had explained the possible ramifications to Trudeau.
But even then, Wernick, proving that he was nothing more than a Liberal lackey when his actual job was to be non-partisan, wouldn’t back off and warned her that Trudeau was in “no mood to be denied,” would “one way or another” get his way, and that she was on a “collision course” with him. It’s difficult to choose whose behaviour was more reprehensible: Wernick or Trudeau.
Liberal wails of how “unethical” it was for her to have taped and released the conversation are pretty precious considering the number of ethical breaches Trudeau himself has already been found guilty of. Also, given the harassment JWR was suffering from Trudeau’s puppets, it’s hard to blame her for taping the conversation. She said that she recorded the call because she feared that the conversation with Wernick would probably be inappropriate; which it indeed turned out to be.It’s also my understanding that the only rule she broke was a Law Society regulation requiring her to have told Wernick that he was being taped. He probably suspected he was; after all, he was the only one at the justice committee hearings who mentioned anything about “wearing a wire.” JWR is receiving advice from a former Supreme Court justice, so it’s my guess that she revealed the contents of the tape after weighing all consequences and deciding, as she has all along in this sordid affair, that she was going to do the principled thing and suffer whatever consequences ensue. That’s the hallmark of a principled person, something which seems to have completely escaped the notice of Justin Trudeau.
So much commentary has been focussed on JWR’s tape that a couple of points in her written submission have been so far largely overlooked. First there’s her re-assertion that Gerald Butts told JWR’s chief of staff, Jessica Prince, “There is no solution here that does not involve some interference.” And Katie Telford told her, “We don’t want to debate legalities any more.”
JWR also explained why she didn’t immediately resign from cabinet. She said that she decided to resign only after Trudeau had asserted that her remaining in cabinet was an indication that she didn’t think anything was really amiss. The way she put it was that her resignation “speaks for itself.”
Also blown to smithereens are Liberal assertions that JWR was demoted because she was (take your pick): difficult to get along with; wasn’t a team player; didn’t speak French well enough; had a major disagreement with Trudeau over a Supreme Court appointment, or didn’t move files along quickly enough. It remains to be seen if the Liberals are sufficiently arrogant to float some other canards about why she was booted even though the reason is now abundantly clear: she wouldn’t bow to unwarranted political pressure from an unprincipled prime minister who seemed to be trying to obstruct justice.
Let’s also not forget that Trudeau’s first response to the original Globe and Mail revelations about inappropriate political interference in a judicial matter was that the story was “completely false.”