I’d suggest that this is to ensure political accountability for what is ultimately a policy decision as much as (or more than) a prosecutorial one.
Let’s turn now to the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, which Parliament enacted under the last Conservative government.
The answer, again, is accountability. We want executive authority always to be subject to legislative control. That means holding governments responsible for the policy choices that prosecutions entail.
It’s a tough call. Someone has to make it. And someone has to be democratically accountable for it. But who?
In terms of legal effect, and for accountability purposes, I’d suggest that consenting to a negotiation or not is tantamount to directing one or not.
First, concerning today’s headline, nothing turns on whether the Prime Minister spoke to the Attorney General before or after federal prosecutors had decided not to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
Indeed, had this story played out differently, the opposition may well have attacked the government for failing to rescue SNC-Lavalin.
The bottom line, I suppose, is that this isn’t actually all Scott Brison’s Fault, after all. It’s Parliament’s.
But, yes, I’m a former Liberal staffer, too.