1 March 2019
Updated 15 March 2019 (in italics below)
The Liberal Party has always been a big tent centrist party with a diversity of viewpoints. It still is, and that is something that I am proud of. I am pleased that my colleague Jody Wilson-Raybould gave her testimony at the Justice Committee, and that we are hearing from others involved as well.
When I think about the issue of SNC Lavalin, I put myself in the shoes of the 9,000 workers and many more pensioners of that company. If I were one of them, I would want to know that my government was doing everything it could to make sure that my job and pension would still be there to support my family. If I were their MP, I would do everything I could to advocate on their behalf. That would be my job, and my constituents would expect nothing less. After all, it is not their fault that some executives broke the law. Those executives should be punished, not the workers and pensioners. That’s where discussions around a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) or “remediation agreement” are relevant. Something that is not often pointed out is that the executives at SNC who committed the crimes are not even at the company any more, and they are not the ones being prosecuted for what they did. Instead, the current employees of the company who had nothing to do with it are the ones who could potentially suffer.
Construing remediation agreements as a free pass for companies is simply wrong. Remediation agreements are a way of ensuring that those who committed wrongdoing—corporate leaders—are held accountable, while those who were entirely innocent—workers, pensioners and customers—are not unfairly penalized. The remediation agreement regime in s.715 of the criminal code requires an admission of responsibility, the payment of a penalty, forfeiture of any benefits, restitution to victims and full cooperation with ongoing investigations. This is precisely why five members of the G7 (UK, USA, Japan, France, and Canada) now utilize remediation agreements. Outside the G7, Australia is also looking at using this kind of system.
As an MP or as a government, the right thing to do for the workers and pensioners is to advocate for their protection and the protection of jobs, which involves making a strong case for it within the law, in this case to Jody Wilson-Raybould. But at the end of the day, the decision was still hers to make. Having people make their case, even repeatedly, is something that an MP or a minister experiences on a daily basis, and it is part of the job we do. Similarly, our constituents want us to get things right on a wide range of issues, and I rightly feel that pressure.
And so, from my outside sense of this issue, the Prime Minister has my full support. In her Committee appearance, the former Attorney General stated the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. She stated that PMO staff said they didn’t want to cross any lines. She further stated that it is appropriate to discuss jobs impact. In the end, the former Attorney General made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way.
Moreover, in a statement relating to the Mark Norman matter published on February 12, 2019, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Kathleen Roussel, stated: “I am confident that our prosecutors, in this and every other case, exercise their discretion independently and free from any political or partisan consideration.”
When Green Party Leader Elizabeth May asked Jody Wilson-Raybould “do you believe that individually or collectively the pressure to which you were subjected contravened the Criminal Code,” her answer was “I don’t believe that.”
In the end, we will always stand up for Canadian workers and the importance of the rule of law, and that is what has been done here.
My focus will continue to be on ensuring rural sustainability in our community through strengthening our economy, growing the middle class, and helping those in need.
Member of Parliament for Hastings—Lennox and Addington