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Something’s being overlooked in the controversy over contacts between the #PMO of @JustinTrudeau and former AG @Puglaas Jody Wilson-Raybould.

That something is JWR’s own highly unusual statement of Jan. 15. 1/ @cforcese @acoyne @bryan_leblanc @aleccast23 @lraitt
2 Ministers don’t normally make more than perfunctory “thanks to my former staff; I’m looking forward to new challenges” statements on these occasions.

But as she was being demoted to Veterans’ Affairs, JWR addressed Canadians in explicit terms about her tenure as AG. 2/
3 JWR welcomes her transfer, but adds: “I do, however, on leaving the office of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (MOJAG) wish to share with Canadians some reflections about my time in that office.” Again, highly unusual. Read it here:… /3
4 JWR’s tone is conversational, almost confessional. She explains the dual role she fulfilled as both Justice Minister and Attorney-General. Without mentioning the suddenly famous Shawcross principles, she dwells on the importance of the AG exercising independent judgment: 4/
5 In the next two tweets are the guts of what JWR said. Consider why she felt it was important to say it. Again, this is on Jan. 15 - a week after a prosecutor asked a court to toss out SNCL’s request for an order directing Ottawa to negotiate a remediation agreement. /5
6 JWR: “It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence. As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan ... 6/
7 JWR still: “... more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. This is how I served throughout my tenure in that role.”

“Always willing to speak truth to power.” While staying in the cabinet. 7/
8 JWR wraps up this part of her statement by noting global threats to democracy. She finishes:

“I know Canadians across the country expect such high standards to continue to be met – especially in the uncertain times in which we now live – and I expect this to continue.” 8/
9/ We can’t yet say there is proof of pressure or direction from the PMO, as opposed to advice or consultation. We can’t say for sure whether JWR had in mind the case of SNCL and its intense lobbying when she wrote about AG independence. But we can note the circumstances ... 9/
10 ... and ask whether there’s another plausible explanation for JWR going to such lengths *at this moment* to remind us of the rules. Are federal prosecutors dealing with any other case as sensitive as SNCL - one that might invite such a strong assertion of independence? /10
11 Some have asked why JWR would stay in cabinet if she felt the Shawcross line had been overstepped and her shift out of Justice was related to her handling of the SNCL file.

If that’s what happened, the answer can be found elsewhere in her Jan. 15 statement. /11
12 JWR lists her legislative and other accomplishments, which are impressive, and lays out an agenda for Indigenous affairs and rights. As an Indigenous senior cabinet minister she clearly feels part of her job is to continue pushing these files regardless of her portfolio. 12/
13 To me it seems JWR is in for the long game. No matter what happened at Justice, she feels she’s able to accomplish more at the cabinet table than on the outside. She’s also insulated from any adverse political consequences of the SNCL case, having left Justice while ... 13/
14 ... the prosecution of SNCL is still alive. This would be important were JWR to be a candidate to succeed Trudeau as Liberal leader. Her listing of accomplishments suggests she may already be thinking of broadening her appeal.

Would JWR have orchestrated the convos ... 14/
15 ... leading to the G&M story? Unlikely & unnecessary. A national party will always be divided on this file. Some will say SNCL must be saved to shore up QC electoral support. Others that special pleading shouldn’t be rewarded. G&M sources in the latter camp, presumably. 15/
16 What remains in doubt is whether any privilege or immunity attaches to JWR’s dealings with other officials, as she claims. Under Shawcross she’s forbidden to claim that prosecution decisions were anything but her own, so no cabinet privilege or immunity. 16/
17 JWR’s dealings with prosecutors are probably well protected, being confidential administrative discussions. Courts, we’re told, show deference to senior bureaucrats in this area. The same would probably be true in a public inquiry. 17/
18 But is there really any solicitor-client privilege? If so, who was JWR’s client? Surely it can’t be any PMO rando who shows up in her office. The chief of staff? Why, in the absence of a written agreement? The PM? Again, why - especially since he’s a cabinet member? 18/
18 Right now, JWR doesn’t need to claim any kind of privilege to stay quiet on the subject. She’s already said enough to suggest a need for vigilance. Only if a court or public inquiry rules she has no immunity from having to testify, will her silence be an issue. 18/
19 Thanks to all who’ve followed this thread. Below, some recommended reading: 19/19

Craig Forcese:…

Hon. Marc Rosenberg:….

Brian Platt:…
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