Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board President Jane Philpott from Liberal caucus this week. The Prime delivered the news to federal MPs on Tuesday afternoon, saying, "The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken. Whether it's taping conversations without consent or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government and in me personally as a leader, it's become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team."
Ms. Wilson-Raybould gave the Justice Committee written statements and a 17-minute audio recording of her speaking with outgoing Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick in the intention of corroborating and elaborating on her February 27 testimony to the committee. In Canada, it is legal to record a conversation as long as one person has knowledge of it. PM Trudeau said it's wrong for a politician to secretly record "a conversation with anyone" and that for an Attorney General to do it with Canada's top bureaucrat was "unconscionable." Ms. Wilson-Raybould replied, “Trust is a two way street… It is unconscionable to tread over the independence of the prosecutor, it is unconscionable not to uphold the rule of law,” adding that she was alarmed that it seemed more people were concerned about the existence of the tape rather than the contents of it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s close friend and former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts also testified before the committee, on March 6, where he disputed Ms. Wilson-Raybould's recounting of events. This week, Mr. Butts handed over texts and notes to the House of Commons Justice Committee days after new evidence submitted by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould was made public. The question is, how did Mr. Butts obtain these texts and notes, which would have been on a government-provided cell phone and supposedly left behind the day he resigned from the Prime Minister’s Office?
Ms. Wilson-Raybould now says that blowback from the affair could have been entirely avoided had PM Trudeau apologized for what she says was political interference in a prosecution. Sources said that after Ms. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her role as Justice Minister in January, she told the Prime Minister she would stay in Cabinet under certain conditions, including firing PM Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, and senior legal adviser Mathieu Bouchard. All three were named in her testimony as involved in the sustained and inappropriate pressure she says she faced on the SNC-Lavalin file. Ms. Wilson-Raybould also wanted PM Trudeau to apologize, either publicly or before Cabinet. Finally, she wanted assurances that her replacement as Justice Minister and Attorney General, David Lametti, would be directed to not authorize a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) for SNC-Lavalin.
PM Trudeau removed Ms. Philpott despite the fact that she had nothing to do with Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s audio recording. Following PM Trudeau’s announcement removing the two women from caucus, Ms. Philpott posted a statement on her Facebook page, commenting: “I was accused publicly by people in caucus of not being loyal, of trying to bring down the Prime Minister, of being politically motivated, and of being motivated by my friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould. These accusations were coupled with public suggestions that I should be forced out of caucus. These attacks were based on inaccuracies and falsehoods. I did not initiate the crisis now facing the party or the Prime Minister. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould… On the contrary, I recommended that the government acknowledge what happened in order to move forward. This was an expression of loyalty, not disloyalty — in the same way that Jody Wilson-Raybould attempted to protect the Prime Minister from the obvious short-term and long-term consequences of attempts to interfere with prosecutorial independence — but to no avail.”
Adding an interesting perspective to the whole affair, the notable Conrad Black wrote the following excerpts in his article for the National Post:
"Wilson-Raybould was seriously underqualified to be minister of justice, a post historically occupied by some of Canada’s leading statesmen, including prime ministers or future prime ministers …
“Wilson-Raybould was a Crown prosecutor for three years and then spent 12 years as a native rights activist-administrator and politician. But she personified the fusion of two groups to which the Justin Trudeau Liberal party and regime prostrated themselves like postulants before Pope Alexander (Borgia) VI (seeking to kiss a foot, nothing so egalitarian as a ring)…
"As a chief commissioner of the British Columbia Treaties Commission, and as regional chief of the Association of First Nations in British Columbia, Wilson-Raybould and her husband authored an 800-page book called the British Columbia Association of First Nations Governance Toolkit — a Guide to Nation-Building. It was a toolkit for the self-emasculation of Canada as a sovereign jurisdiction, and a guide to the jurisdictional destruction of Canada as a nation and its voluntary submission, on grounds of the alleged moral turpitude of the European discoverers and settlers of this country, to the overlordship of the notoriously ragged self-defined communities of partially pre-European descended people in Canada. Her declared objective was to “take back” what the natives had lost...
"Some of us warned where this was going. The prime minister and his senior collaborators, including the former principal secretary (Gerald Butts) and the clerk of the Privy Council (Michael Wernick, a non-political figure and the country’s senior civil servant), finally, after warning signals had become more frequent than a healthy jogger’s heartbeat in mid-run, and louder than the foghorn of R.M.S. Queen Mary, tried to put on the brakes. The prime minister shuffled the justice minister to veteran’s affairs (for which she was even less qualified than she was to be attorney general — I don’t like to imagine what her conception of war veterans was)."