Scott Thompson: Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was right
A Quebec judge has ruled SNC-Lavalin must stand trial on charges of fraud and bribery.
A judge ruled Wednesday that prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed with a trial against the Montreal engineering giant, which stands accused of fraud and bribing Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011.
This was the centrepiece of the Jody Wilson-Raybould/SNC-Lavalin scandal, in which the former attorney general accused the PMO of pressuring her into giving the company a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) so it could avoid trial. If convicted at a trial, the company could be barred from projects in Canada for 10 years.
The company aggressively lobbied the government to make changes to the Criminal Code to allow for such a deal. It succeeded and the provision was deeply wedged into Justin Trudeau’s first budget legislation.
It appears Wilson-Raybould was demoted in cabinet for not caving to the PMO’s demands. She later resigned from cabinet and was eventually removed from caucus.
WATCH: (May 27, 2019) How Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott would operate if elected as Independents
She and collateral damage wing-person Jane Philpott announced this week they will run as independents in the next federal election.
The fallout saw some of Trudeau’s key staff tumble right out of the office, including the prime minister’s key adviser, Gerald Butts, and clerk of the privy council Michael Wernick.
It’s still possible that Justin Trudeau’s new attorney general, David Lametti, could waive everything and award SNC-Lavalin its golden ticket, but after the judge’s decision, that would seem like political suicide.
What this ruling also says is this: Jody Wilson-Raybould was right in not awarding SNC-Lavalin a special deal in the first place.
The judge confirmed that in court with his decision.
Perhaps if the Liberals had taken Wilson-Raybould’s advice on the file initially, we would have arrived at the same place, with a lot less damage to all those involved.
But that’s what happens when a party’s personal election agenda gets in the way of the rule of law.
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