Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this and I will be concise. I will stick as closely as I can to my notes and hopefully we will be able to get through that. I appreciate the opportunity to state this because it is relevant at this time.
On February 7 and 8, the Minister of Justice and his parliamentary secretary offered flat, bald denials of an article that appeared in The Globe and Mail. They referred to the allegations as false. The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton has referred to some of these so-called allegations and the subsequent justice committee evidence that confirmed them.
I want to speak to two of the allegations, just very quickly, particularly in light of the evidence that was posted late Friday afternoon on the justice committee's website, which adds to a further corroboration of the reporting of Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Sean Fine. The original newspaper article's sixth paragraph informed readers that:
Sources say [the hon. member for Vancouver Granville], who was justice minister and attorney-general until she was shuffled to Veterans Affairs early this year, came under heavy pressure to persuade the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to change its mind.
At page four of the committee's February 27 evidence, the hon. member for Vancouver Granville said, “The Clerk then said that he spoke to my deputy and she said that I could speak to the director."
Later on page four, she recounted:
Mathieu and Elder also raised the idea of an “informal reach out” to the DPP. My chief of staff said that she knew I was not comfortable with that, as it looked like and probably did constitute political interference. They asked whether that was true if it wasn't the Attorney General herself, but if it was her staff or the deputy minister. My chief of staff said “yes”, it would....
Meanwhile, on the morning of March 6, Gerry Butts, the Prime Minister's ex-principal secretary, tried to spin all of this heavy pressure, saying, on page 26 of the evidence:
We thought that the more thought and advice and process that could go into this and the more transparency we could bring into the decision-making process, the better off we all were going to be, going forward.
In the sensational audio recording filed with the justice committee last week, we heard from Michael Wernick, the Prime Minister's hand-picked Clerk of the Privy Council, in his words saying, “Is there anybody that can talk to Kathleen then about the context around this or to get her to explain why”.
Recall again that the Attorney General and his parliamentary secretary called these allegations false. The evidence patently begs to differ. Again, these two government spokespersons misled the House or were themselves misled to that end.
The other allegation to address is the one at The Globe and Mail article's 23rd paragraph, where we read:
Sources said the justice minister was also encouraged to hire an outside legal expert to furnish an opinion on the suitability of a remediation agreement.
The allegation was also, as the Chair will remember, called false by the current justice minister and his parliamentary secretary. However, the former attorney general gave the following testimony to the justice committee on February 22, on page four of the evidence:
We did not hear from anyone again until October 18 when Mathieu Bouchard called my chief of staff and asked that we—I—look at the option of my seeking an external legal opinion on the DPP's decision not to extend an invitation to negotiate a DPA.
This would become a recurring theme for some time in messages from the PMO, that an external review should be done of the DPP's decision....
However, on October 26, 2018, when my chief of staff spoke to Mathieu Bouchard and communicated to him that, given that SNC had now filed in Federal Court seeking to review the DPP's decision, surely we had moved past the idea of the Attorney General intervening or getting an opinion on the same question. Mathieu replied that he was still interested in an external legal opinion idea. Could she not get an external legal opinion on whether the DPP had exercised their discretion properly, and then on the application itself, the Attorney General could intervene and seek to stay the proceedings, given that she was awaiting a legal opinion?
The Prime Minister's former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, corroborated this repetitive series of exchanges when he appeared at the justice committee's March 6 morning meeting. On page two of the evidence, he is recorded as saying:
So what, exactly, was staff talking to the minister about? We had a view, which was informed by Department of Justice advice, that it would be appropriate for her to seek independent advice from an eminent Canadian jurist or panel of jurists. We believed that this was appropriate....
Later, on page three, he said:
When you boil it all down, all we ever asked the Attorney General to do was to consider a second opinion.
Then in that audio recording filed with the justice committee we heard Michael Wernick saying, “I think [the Prime Minister] is thinking about getting somebody else to give him some advice.... He just wants to understand more at this point of why the DPA route is not taken up...he is thinking of bringing in someone like Bev McLachlin to give him advice on this or to give you advice”.
This blows a huge hole in the side of any claim that The Globe and Mail story on February 7 was false. It was just the opposite in fact.
Once again, the Attorney General and his parliamentary secretary misled the House or were misled by someone who wanted to achieve that same result.
In conclusion, I want to turn to the possibility raised by the House leader of the Official Opposition in her preliminary remarks that the Attorney General and his parliamentary secretary were merely victims of a poor briefing from the Prime Minister or the Clerk of the Privy Council and were fed falsehoods to be spread in the House of Commons.
I would urge you, Mr. Speaker, to consider the ruling of Mr. Speaker Jerome on December 6, 1978. The case is summarized at footnote 249 of page 116 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, where it says:
On November 3, 1978, Allan Lawrence... charged that he had been deliberately misled by a former Solicitor General. Acting on behalf of a constituent who suspected that his mail had been tampered with, Mr. Lawrence had written in 1973 to the then Solicitor General who assured him that as a matter of policy the RCMP did not intercept the private mail of anyone. However, on November 1, 1978, in testimony before the McDonald Commission (a royal commission created by the federal government in 1977 to look into the illegal activities of the RCMP, and headed by Justice David McDonald of the Supreme Court of Alberta), the former RCMP commissioner stated that they did indeed intercept mail on a very restricted basis and that the practice was not one which had been concealed from Ministers. Mr. Lawrence claimed that this statement clearly conflicted with the information he had received from the Solicitor General some years earlier...On December 6, Speaker Jerome dealt with a number of points raised in the presentations on the question of privilege and ruled the matter prima facie.
In considering the testimony heard at the McDonald Commission, Mr. Speaker Jerome said in his ruling at page—