Martyn Brown: For Canada’s sake, just GO, Trudeau

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      [This is a long article.]

      Oh, Canada. No need to worry our pretty little heads any further about the Trudeau administration’s potentially criminal political interference in the SNC-Lavalin criminal prosecution.

      Jody Wilson-Raybould’s new testimony to the Commons justice committee, including her mind-blowing recording of her December 19 telephone conversation with Michael Wernick answers it all.

      So sayeth the man who orchestrated Canada’s worst-ever attack on a sitting attorney general, on the rule of law, and on its central tenet of prosecutorial independence: our once beloved prime minister, whose approval ratings are now lower than Donald Trump’s.

      We’ve reached the end of his tortuous road to nowhere on LavScam, according to the statement put out late Friday (March 29) by PMO communications director Cameron Ahmad, in response to JWR’s latest evidence.

      All the facts are on the table now, and everyone involved has shared their perspective, including the Prime Minister,” it declared [Emphasis added.]

      “We are focused on moving forward as a team on the issues that matter to Canadians and governing in the best interests of the country.”

      As opposed to moving even further backward through a misplaced focus bent on further ripping Team Trudeau apart, by throwing its most popular MPs out of caucus over their principled conduct on this issue that its leader has concluded doesn’t really much matter to Canadians.Though I would not for one second bet against the prospect that the Liberals hungry for revenge are so bat-shit crazy as to conspire to boot JWR and Jane Philpott out of caucus this Wednesday (April 3).

      Every step of the way, they have proven that they are too dim to realize how their actions have added insult to their own collective injury.

      Why should we expect them not to further aggravate that reality by kicking JWR out of their “family”?

      Especially after the feast on Saturday attended by some 500 people, who came out in Campbell River, B.C. to the Kwakwaka'wakw nation feast hosted to celebrate and honour Puglaas, whose Indigenous name translates as "woman born to noble people". 

      And considering that the NDP has just nominated Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs vice-president Bob Chamberlin as their candidate for the upcoming federal byelection, just over 150 kilometres down the road, in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

      If this scandal has shown anything, it is surely that the Liberals’ nuttiness knows no bounds.

      Trudeau claims he was never fully briefed

      Enough is enough, the PMO pretty much declared in its statement.

      “The Prime Minister took responsibility for the situation..."

      The “situation” being how he marshalled his most senior hired guns to try to bend Puglaas to his unseemly will, and then fired her as AG, precisely as she feared he would, when he couldn’t get his way.

      Anyway, what’s done is done. And he swears he didn’t do it.

      Rest assured, we are told, he was never “fully briefed” by Wernick on how his conversation with Puglaas went and he was “unaware of the full contents of this recording before today”.

      After reading that, my first reaction was "right".

      Like we are all to believe that of the man who never lied when he said that "The allegations in the (February 7) Globe story are false. Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or by anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter."

      Believe it. Like Richard Nixon was “not a crook".

      Then again, according to a CBC story, a statement put out on Saturday from Wernick’s lawyer says that Wernick "never discussed SNC again with the PM or PMO until someone leaked the story to the Globe and Mail in early February." So that’s that.

      Stupid us, Canadians.

      And here most of us who listened to that recording, who read that new evidence, and who have been closely following this scandal might have thought that it all raises so many new questions and concerns that scream out to be formally scrutinized by the RCMP.

      How wrong we are. All our concerns should now be put to bed, Justin Trudeau says.

      Stupid, stupid us.

      How could we ever think that there is any more to the gross wrongdoing that is at the root of this story that might warrant a police probe, or a public inquiry, or further investigation from a parliamentary committee?

      Liberals are dreaming if they don't believe the expulsion of Jody Wilson-Raybould from caucus won't benefit NDP candidate Bob Chamberlin in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith by-election.
      Amanda Siebert

      In Trudeau’s mind, there is simply no need to ask any questions of the multiple witnesses who are central to this scandal who were never obliged to testify, let alone under oath.

      There is no need to ascertain whether anyone acted unlawfully in respect of s. 139(2), s. 423.1(1) and/or s. 122 of the Criminal Code, or may have violated the Lobbying Act.

      The RCMP should know that all the facts are now on the table and should reject the appeals from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and from the five former attorneys general who have all urged it to get to the bottom of the matter that Trudeau’s Liberals are trying so hard to bury.

      No need to investigate how and what privileged information might have been possibly illegally shared and used to try to pressure JWR into politically intervening in a criminal prosecution in a way that might never been done before in Canadian history.

      No need to investigate what, if any threats SNC-Lavalin did or did not make in respect of moving its head office from Montreal, costing Canada 9,000 jobs—both of which, its president and CEO, Neil Bruce, emphatically denied having ever made.

      “Yes, the 9,000 people will get a job,” Bruce said. “I have no doubt whatsoever about that … But they’ll be working probably for a U.S. company.”

      No need to investigate what the company or its agents really did or said in lobbying for a special deal to avoid a criminal trial, which Bruce suggested he never requested on economic grounds. A claim that would seem to contradict his company’s presentation to federal prosecutors last fall on options it was considering if it failed to get a DPA.

      No need to investigate how those false threats about Canadian job losses and SNC’s potentially imminent HQ closure in Canada were used—either deliberately or unintentionally—as “public interest” arguments to justify a DPA.

      No need to investigate, as Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre wondered, whether anyone endeavoured to “trick” JWR with specious public interest arguments into overruling the director of public prosecutions in order to save the company from a criminal trial.

      No need to investigate how or if cabinet might have been deliberately misled in that regard, or what it may have been told before or after the January 14 cabinet shuffle, about any plans by the government to give SNC-Lavalin its multi-million-dollar wish for a DPA.

      No need to investigate the degree to which the prime minister’s personal partisan interests and his party’s electoral interests factored into the inappropriate pressure repeatedly exerted on Canada’s top law officer, to give that company a DPA.

      A company that also donated over $100,000 in illegal contributions to the Liberal party over the span of a decade.

      A company facing fraud and corruption charges that neither the AG nor the DPP considered it appropriate not to prosecute—alleged crimes that the OECD has now put Canada on notice it is deeply concerned about, given what has so far surfaced in this scandal.

      No need to search for any more truth, when the truth that has emerged is so damning in its own right.

      You can only go to hell once. Trudeau’s better angels have told him, salvation awaits those who deny what they’ve done and lie to themselves that all their alleged sins have been exposed. No reason for him to admit anything or to beg for mercy.

      The facts are all known. There is nothing more to be found out.

      The Great Oz has spoken.

      Video: Watch the famous "Surrender Dorothy" scene in The Wizard of Oz.

      Trudeau wants us to look the other way

      There is no wickedness here. “Surrender Dorothy” was never written in the sky in black smoke. There were no flying monkeys dispatched to terrorize the brave figure who led us all down her fantastical yellow brick road.

      It is as true as the conclusion that Canada’s unapologetic wizard of his own misfortune is not at once the dishonest and bewildered little bully behind the curtain, the cowardly lion, the tin man without a heart, and his own straw man without a brain.

      Poppies. Poppies. That’s the ticket, Canada.

      Best we all just lie down now and go to sleep on this scandal that has dragged on for two months.

      Let’s all turn the page and move on, Trudeau urges with mock humility and healing calm.

      Time to focus on what’s really important.

      Like the prime minister’s heroism in resisting those truly evil attempts by JWR to wish upon Canada that charter-hating judge as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

      That is, so long as it does not involve formally investigating the possibly criminal leak behind that false proposition.

      So long as it does not mean identifying and potentially prosecuting that unknown person, who attempted to smear the “true villain” in this piece by deliberately smearing Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench with false and highly privileged information.

      No need to investigate that action by someone whom we are assured—no fingers crossed—is not in the prime minister’s office, nor who is his official agents’ secret agent.

      An asserted fact about which they are so sure they see no reason to prove it about an action, it must be said, that both Trudeau and his current attorney general so “strongly condemn” they have decided it’s not worth investigating.

      Nope. We have heard and learned all there is to know. Which is more than Trudeau’s nefarious leaker(s) ever wanted us to know, thanks to the swift and brutal responses from Justice Joyal, from the Law Society of Manitoba, and from the Canadian Bar Association.

      No need either to let former cabinet minister Jane Philpott speak and tell us what she is not at liberty to share, solely because the prime minister in whom she could no longer serve in good conscience as a member of his cabinet has refused to waive her oath of cabinet confidentiality.

      Even though she assures us that there are, in fact, “further issues of concern that I’m not free to share … There’s much more to the story that should be told.”

      No need to “put up or shut up”—as Liberal MP Judy Sgro so famously chided both Philpott and JWR.

      The latter has now royally “put up” and the prime minister has again concluded for the umpteenth time that “shut up” should suffice.

      Former cabinet minister Jane Philpott says there's more to be learned about the SNC-Lavalin story.
      Jane Philpott

      PM insists he didn't know about phone conversation

      Despite his best efforts to silence JWR from offering her most recent testimony, with the help of his Liberal flunkies on the Commons justice and ethics committees, more facts materialized and that should be the end of it.

      “Thank you very much for your donation”, Trudeau may as well have said in response to JWR’s latest protests. “I really appreciate the donation to the Liberal Party of Canada.”

      Now kindly leave the room and take your mercurial poisoning of our “more united than ever” Liberal “family” with you.

      “Reconciliation” is simply not part of his vocabulary in any honestly meaningful sense. The video proved that point.

      Crocodile tears at best is all we can expect, especially in this instance, where the victim of his abuse caused us all so much grief by speaking her truth to power.

      In Trudeau’s apparent takeaway of all that has unfolded, it’s so sad that she created that “erosion of trust” by opening her big mouth instead of shutting up and doing what she was asked, even though she was studiously never explicitly told to do it.

      It’s so sad that she misinterpreted his meaning and intent, before he fired her as his AG.

      He “should have spoken directly with [her] about this matter—and wishes that she had come to him.” Poor, negligent, Jody.

      For Heaven’s sake, how many more times does Trudeau or his apologists need to say that?

      Don’t we get it?

      She failed him and her party by never putting her concerns about the veiled threats, bullying, and inappropriate and sustained political pressure in writing.

      She could have spared our country so much unnecessary pain if only she had come to him (OK, besides on September 17) and told him how she really felt.

      Because, after all, why on Earth would she ever surmise that expressing her concerns directly and repeatedly to his top bureaucrat, to his top political adviser, to his office’s most senior political staffers, or to his finance minister would ever reach his ears?

      Why, it is as unduly presumptive as imagining that Michael Wernick would ever fully report to him on his nonthreatening, most forgettable conversation that he initiated on Trudeau’s behalf to make JWR see the sensible light of day that had somehow escaped her ill-advised attention.

      The conversation in which Wernick said, “I think they [SNC-Lavalin] have made direct representations to the prosecutor though...and they tried to make the public interest argument and so on and so on. But they gave the impression that they are not being listened to so...”

      (A fact that he would know, how? And from whom? About a “public interest argument” that he apparently personally counselled the company should take to the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, according to handwritten notes of the meeting he had with its CEO on September 18.)

      Shudder the thought that the prime minister was ever “fully briefed” about that conversation in which Wernick repeatedly ignored JWR’s advice that “I am trying to protect the Prime Minister from political interference or perceived political interference or otherwise.”

      Which prompted him to respond, “Alright, I understand that... but he does not have the power to do what he wants... all the tools are in your hands so...”

      The December 19 recorded phone call between Jody Wilson-Raybould and top civil servant Michael Wernick has kept the SNC-Lavalin story at the top of newscasts.

      JWR raises spectre of Saturday Night Massacre

      Perish the suspicion that the prime minister was ever apprised of that final attempt at simple reasoning, in which Wernick said, “He [Trudeau] is asking you to use all the tools that you lawfully have at your” [Emphasis added.]

      Including the one “tool” of directing the DPP to do something that both Roussel and JWR had decided would not be appropriate to use—as Wilson-Raybould had personally told the prime minister and all who were sent to convince her to use it anyway.

      Sure, to we—the great unwashed—that might sound a lot like the prime minister actually tried to direct JWR to do the one thing she would not agree to do. But it wasn’t meant as such, it always being “her decision” and all.

      All an unfortunate misunderstanding of so many conflicting personal “interpretations” of fact and perceived experience, best swept under the rug for good.

      Why should we ever imagine that Wernick would personally fill his boss in on every nitty-gritty uttering from that telephone call? I mean, apart from the fact that he “never wore a wire” and all.

      And apart from the fact that he actually said, “well, I am going to have to report back before he [Trudeau] leaves...he is in a pretty firm frame of mind about this so...I am a bit worried...”

      We can all sleep so much easier now, confident that the prime minister was never told by his most senior civil servant that Wernick had suggested to JWR “it is not a good idea for the prime minister and his attorney general to be at loggerheads.

      That he was never told of Wernick’s warning to JWR that “he [Trudeau] is quite determined, quite firm but he wants to know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn't being used.” A question Trudeau never dared again put directly to his attorney general after her admonition in his September 17 attempt to convince her to change her decision.

      No sirreee, Wernick never apparently told the PM about his gentle and almost apologetic threat-that-wasn’t to JWR: “I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another. So, he is in that kinda mood and I wanted you to be aware of that.”

      We can all hold Trudeau harmless, knowing that he was never briefed about his beleaguered attorney general’s most colourful comment: “So I am having thoughts of the Saturday Night Massacre here Michael to be honest with you and this is not a great place for me to be in—I do not relish this place—but what I am confident of is that I have given the prime minister my best advice to protect him and to protect the constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.”

      Once again, Trudeau would have us believe that he is innocent of all he never knew and that he doth not protest too much.

      If only because neither his right-hand man nor his top legal adviser ever directly protested (for a second time) to him that something very rotten was taking place in his Denmark.

      Except, perhaps, for this telling comment in that call made by JWR, which we are assured Wernick also failed to relay to his boss:

      “I made it very clear at the cabinet table and other places that these tools are at the discretion of the prosecutor—and everybody agreed to that and that there was no guarantee that there would be a DPA in this or any other case.

      “So we are treading on dangerous ground here —and I am going to issue my stern warning—um—because I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn't independent, I cannot act in a partisan way and I cannot be politically motivated. All of this screams of that.”

      Poor, Jody.

      “I am waiting for the … other shoe to drop, so I am not under any illusion how the Prime Minister … gets things that he wants,” she told Wernick.

      And drop, it did, exactly as she anticipated, as Jane Philpott warned Trudeau that JWR feared it would, before he lowered the boom and turfed her from the office that she never called “her dream job”.

      Before he “offered” her the Indigenous Services portfolio that she had specifically “told his transition team and others that I could not and would not in good conscience ever be able to take on the Ministerial role of delivering services to ‘Indians’ and Indian Act bands…” A role that she explained in her latest testimony “is understood as that of the ‘Indian Agent’ ”—a term typically used in “a derogatory fashion”.

      Poor us, the PM would have us now believe, if we are also waiting for other shoes to drop and are still operating under the illusion that he won’t get what he wants.

      Don’t we get it?

      The PMO statement essentially declares that the final shoe has already dropped.

      Trudeau doth command it. And above all, what he wants now is to get beyond this distraction that only really amounts to a bunch of contested facts that are now “all…on the table”.

      Never mind that we know only a handful of facts about that December 18 “emergency meeting” between JWR’s chief of staff, Jessica Prince; the prime minister’s former principal secretary, Gerald Butts; and the PM’s chief of staff, Katie Telford.

      Facts that include the email to Prince with the subject heading “URGENT” that was sent precisely 44 minutes before she was summoned to attend that 5 p.m. meeting.

      Which makes hash of Butts’s testimony that he did not regard that as an emergency meeting.

      What more would we hope to accomplish by asking the RCMP or others to explore what was really said in that meeting?

      What of it, if Butts and Telford pressured Prince to convince Wilson-Raybould to hire an external counsel—“someone like Beverly McLachlin”—prompting Prince to tell them “that would be interference”?

      To which Butts allegedly responded with his most damning line, “Jess, there is no solution here that doesn’t involve some interference.”

      What of it, if the facts support Prince’s report?

      Surely the RCMP would have no cause for concern if it was true that “KT thinks it gives us cover in the business community and in the legal community, and that it would allow the PM to say we are doing something. She was like, ‘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.’”

      What of it, if, as JWR testified “My [chief of staff] asked what if the [requested outside legal] opinion comes saying, ‘She can review it, but she shouldn’t’ or simply, ‘She can’t review it’ end of story?”

      To which, Mr. Butts allegedly stated, “it wouldn’t say that.” No alarm bells, there.

      A question of fact that JWR went on to stress “My COS informed me that she remembered this very clearly because this response made her nervous.” As indeed it would, for all its implied suspicions of such “independent” advice being initiated for its foregone conclusions.

      What of it, if Prince accurately reported to her boss that “Katie was like ‘we don’t want to debate legalities anymore' ”?

      No need for the RCMP or anyone to ask any of those attendees about those facts as asserted in Prince’s text message and in JWR’s testimony. Unless Canada’s law enforcement officers think it worthwhile to ascertain what was actually said and meant, in weighing any evidence pointing to a possible obstruction of justice.

      Former prime minister and ex-attorney general Kim Campbell was mentioned by Gerald Butts in defence of Trudeau's wishes.
      Martin Dee/UBC

      Kim Campbell's name pops up

      Ditto for Prince’s report that “Gerry told some story about how Mulroney met with David Milgaard’s mom, walked into the cab[inet] room and told Kim Campbell she had to fix it.

      “She gave him all these [attorney-general] reasons why she couldn’t interfere but then she ultimately did what Mulroney wanted”, “By Gerry’s telling, it was because Mulroney told her that she had to find a solution.”

      According to the PMO’s statement, it should be enough to know that, as JWR has now testified, she personally met with the Right Honorable Kim Campbell the very next day after that meeting, to check out that outrageous claim.

      That would be the same Kim Campbell who is currently the chairperson for Canada's Supreme Court Advisory Board.

      Who cares that she was “quite offended and outraged by the comments” and told JWR that they were utterly untrue?

      Pish, posh.

      What’s another assault on the tenet of prosecutorial independence with yet another alleged and potentially defamatory fabrication, aimed at justifying an intervention that the prime minister wanted?

      In this case, by sullying the name of a former Conservative AG and prime minister in the process.

      Butts is gone. Wernick is going. Wilson-Raybould and Philpott have both resigned.

      It’s all good.

      Except that none of it is.

      All of it is not just bad; it as rotten as can be—and quite possibly criminal at its core.

      As Wilson-Raybould put it to Wernick:

      “Does [Trudeau] understand the gravity of what this potentially could mean—this is not about saving jobs, this is about interfering with one of our fundamental institutions. This is like breaching a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence." 

      Evidently not, for as Trudeau’s clerk answered, “Well I don't think he sees it as that...” And besides, the prime minister was never fully briefed on that conversation.

      I submit, it is the facts we still don’t know and that the prime minister still hopes to hide that cry out to be exposed.

      The one thing we should all know enough by now is this sorry reality.

      Never has any Canadian prime minister been so dishonest, deluded or factually discredited in his “version” of events in a scandal of such significance in the dangers it poses to the rule of law.

      That fact is clear. And it is why for Canada’s sake, Trudeau must just go.

      His actions and cover-up are beyond redemption.

      His leadership is an embarrassment to our country and an affront to the highest values of his office.

      His command of the truth is as lacking as the honesty of his office’s response to JWR’s latest evidence.

      I hope and pray that the RCMP is not content to do nothing. Indeed, I predict again that it will not be content to dismiss the limited truths that are now on the table as “just” a political controversy that warrants no further investigation.

      All the facts of what really transpired beg to be rooted out, publicized, and prosecuted—or not—as the law demands.

      Come what may, the truth will out.

      And when it does, one way or another, Trudeau will be out.

      If there is any justice in Canada, at the very least, politically.

      Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, and in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact him via email at