Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski called testimony from a former Liberal cabinet minister ‘shocking’ in response to allegations of political interference in the prosecution of a major Quebec-based construction company.
Stetski’s remarks follow compelling testimony from Jody Wilson-Raybould last week, the former Justice Minister who told a House of Commons justice committee that high-level government bureaucrats attempted to sway her prosecutorial independence in the trial of SNC Lavalin dating back to last fall.
“It was shocking, it was disappointing,” said Stetski, an NDP MP. “Depending on what side of the House you sit on, different parts of Jody’s testimony gets focused on, but from my perspective and certainly from the NDP perspective, we need a full public inquiry to try and actually get at the complete truth.”
Wilson-Raybould, who was recently shuffled out of her justice ministry portfolio, told the justice committee of a ‘consistent and sustained effort’ from staff within the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council’s Office and other government ministries to interfere with her prosecutorial discretion against SNC Lavalin, which is facing bribery charges.
The Vancouver-Granville MP alleged that those who were interfering sought a legal procedure that would let SNC Lavalin of the hook in exchange for court-ordered remedies such as fines or corporate restructuring, known as a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA).
A DPA is designed to punish a rogue executive or senior levels of business leadership, rather than the entire company and it’s employees.
Stetski, and the NDP, are calling for a national public inquiry that will have the authority to call witnesses, or issue subpoenas to force them to testify.
“From our perspective, the best way to get at the truth is to have a full public inquiry,” he said. “That, I think, is the best way to satisfy Canadians in terms of whose opinion, whose views, whose take on the testimony we should believe.”
There are still two ongoing processes, according to the Kootenay-Columbia MP.
Firstly, the matter has been referred to Mario Dion, the federal Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, while the Justice and Human Rights Committee is also calling further witnesses next week.
Stetski expressed concern about the process and outcomes from the justice committee, given its majority is stacked with Liberal Party members.
“They can outvote the Conservative and NDP members on the committees if they don’t want certain witnesses called, like the Prime Minister for example, or other individuals, the majority Liberal committee members will vote it down,” Stetski said.
“And any recommendations that come out of the committee, potentially, the Liberals have the final say.”
The committee is set to meet next week, where it will continue to call more witnesses, he added.