Musings —09.10.2019 09:54 PM—
I’d say the election just found its defining moment, wouldn’t you?
These guys make Donald Trump look like a rank amateur.
The RCMP has been looking into potential obstruction of justice in the handling of the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., but its examination has been stymied by the federal government’s refusal to lift cabinet confidentiality for all witnesses, The Globe and Mail has learned.
This means individuals involved in the matter cannot discuss events or share documents with police that have not been exempted from the rule of cabinet confidentiality, according to sources, who The Globe agreed not to identify so they could discuss the RCMP inquiries.
In Canada, the principle of cabinet confidentiality is intended to allow ministers to debate decisions freely in private. As a result, discussions involving cabinet matters must be kept secret unless a waiver is granted. In the SNC matter, the Liberals say that the Clerk of the Privy Council, who heads the bureaucratic agency that serves the Prime Minister’s Office, made the decision not to offer a broad waiver to either the RCMP or to the Ethics Commissioner, and that the PMO played no role.
A source who was recently interviewed by the RCMP told The Globe that investigators indicated they are looking into possible obstruction of justice. The Criminal Code says obstruction of justice occurs when an effort is made to “obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding.”
The national police force will pause the operation because of the coming election campaign. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to go to Rideau Hall Wednesday to ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and call the vote for Oct. 21, and the RCMP has a policy to suspend politically sensitive operations during campaigns.
Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said the decision not to offer a broader waiver for the RCMP “was made solely by the Clerk of the Privy Council as guardian of cabinet confidences.” Mr. Trudeau’s director of communications, Cameron Ahmad, said the PMO was not involved in the decision.
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion faced the same obstacle as the RCMP in his investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair earlier this year, stating in his final reportthat nine witnesses were unable to provide full testimony because government allowed only a limited waiver on cabinet secrecy.
Mr. Dion found that Mr. Trudeau breached the Conflict of Interest Act. His report said the Prime Minister and senior federal officials improperly pressed Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister and attorney-general to order the director of public prosecutions to settle bribery and fraud charges against SNC-Lavalin without a trial.
The Department of Justice confirmed Tuesday that the RCMP received “the same access to cabinet confidences and privileged information” as the Ethics Commissioner and the justice committee of the House.