March 4, 2019 12:48 pm

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick must resign over SNC-Lavalin affair testimony: Angus

Canada's top civil servant, Michael Wernick, has told the House Justice Committee that allegations that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured into shelving the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin are wrong. David Akin reports on what this testimony means for the Trudeau government.

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New Democrat MP Charlie Angus says Canada’s top civil servant is “deeply compromised” by his testimony in the SNC-Lavalin affair and has to resign.

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In an open letter today to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Angus says Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council, was inflammatory and sensationalist when he told the House of Commons justice committee almost two weeks ago that he worries angry political rhetoric could lead to an assassination in Canada.

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Wernick also spoke up for the Liberal government’s Indigenous agenda and integrity, which Angus says is inappropriate for a non-partisan public official.

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testified that Wernick leaned on her to head off a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin over allegations of bribery and fraud in its dealings in Libya, including allegations that he conveyed to her that Trudeau would find a way to get a deal for the company even if she disagreed.

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She said in her testimony that Wernick also raised partisan political considerations in discussion of the matter, and that he made “veiled threats” to her.

“It is wholly inappropriate for the Clerk to bring up these partisan considerations, particularly in the sensitive context,” Angus wrote in the open letter.

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Angus says that made Wernick “a central player in a very political controversy.”

“Mr. Wernick has overstepped his role,” Angus continued. “He cannot remain Clerk of the Privy Council and I urge you to ask for his resignation immediately.”

Wernick has been clerk of the Privy Council since 2016, after a long career in the federal public service.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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