In a revealing interview with Paul Wells in the Globe and Mail, former Treasury Board president Jane Philpott gives more details as to what still has yet to be said in the SNC-Lavalin affair.
“I resigned because I could not maintain solidarity with cabinet on the specific issue of the management of the SNC-Lavalin issue,” said Philpott. “I felt that there was evidence of an attempt to politically interfere with the justice system in its work on the criminal trial that has been described by some as the most important and serious prosecution of corporate corruption in modern Canadian history.”
When asked if all of the things that concerned her about the handling of the SNC-Lavalin file came to light to the committee as of yet, she said “No. There’s much more to the story that should be told.” This statement leaves room for a lot of speculation, but the former Cabinet member clarifies a bit.
“I believe the former attorney general has further points to make. I believe that I have further issues of concern that I’m not free to share. There was a reference by Gerry Butts in his testimony of the fact that I spoke to the Prime Minister on January the 6th about SNC-Lavalin’s desire to have a DPA [deferred prosecution agreement],” she told The Globe. “This was more than a month before the story became public. And I ordinarily would have not been allowed to share that information. But of course, it’s already on the public record from the Justice Committee. I think Canadians might want to know why I would have raised that with the Prime Minister a month before the public knew about it. Why would I have felt that there was a reason why former Minister Wilson-Raybould should not be shuffled?”
Jane Philpott wants the whole SNC-Lavalin story told
Throughout all of the revealed corruption surrounding the Liberals during the ongoing SNC affair, we on the outside got to witness which members decided to act with integrity and honesty, and which decided to stay aboard a crooked ship.
“My sense is that Canadians would like to know the whole story. I believe we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth,” said Philpott. “They need to have confidence in the very basic constitutional principle of the independence of the justice system.”
During the interview, she was asked about Former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts’ comments that were essentially, ‘Come on, this doesn’t rise to the level of harassment, or bugging, or even sustained engagement. It’s 20 interactions over four months. It’s two phone calls and two meetings per month.’
“The constitutional principle of the independence of the justice system is such that the attorney general of our country should not be subjected to political interference in any way. Whether there is one attempt to interfere or whether there are 20 attempts to interfere, that crosses ethical and constitutional lines.”
Jane Philpott’s leadership questioned
With the storm still raining down over the Liberal Party, some are asking if Philpotts will still be an effective MP. “I believe that I can,” stated Philpott. “It’s up to my constituents to judge whether I’m being effective or not. I will continue to listen to my constituents. I have been meeting with as many of them as possible over the last couple of weeks. My staff is doing a great job making sure I understand what they’re saying. So I’m trying to represent them as best I can and stay in regular communication with them.”
She also stated that she has no leadership ambitions. “There’s nothing in the decisions that I’ve made in the last few weeks that is any kind of power play. I ran to be a good Member of Parliament. I did not ever run to be in cabinet. I was obviously thrilled to have the privilege of being in cabinet. I saw it as an amazing opportunity to be able to do good things for the country and try to support people that might otherwise not have someone at the cabinet table advocating on their behalf. I am happy to be a good Member of Parliament. I don’t think my time in federal politics is done. I know there are people that are putting out rumours that the reason I quit is because I want to run for the [Ontario Liberal Party’s] provincial leadership. That is not true.”
Finance Minister Bill Morneau had made comments regarding Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould’s personal relationship, that was described as a “friendship.” Philpott made it clear that she thought that Morneau’s comments were insulting. “I don’t make decisions on any policy — and definitely not on a matter of principle — based on friendship. I made the very difficult decision to step down because my conscience demanded it.”
On the outside, we wonder how the Liberals are keeping it together? After Philpott’s resignation, has she been received with open arms by her party? Or has she been turned away and discouraged? She says the reception has been mixed.
“I like to think that I have pretty good relationships, and I have extraordinary respect for my colleagues and worked hard to build relationships, to listen well, to be a fair colleague, even if we disagreed on issues. This has hurt people, and I feel really sad about that,” said Philpott.
Mrs. Philpott also clarified that she wants a Liberal government in federal politics and that she doesn’t want to see Andrew Scheer win the coming election “for a whole bunch of really important reasons.”
“But the Liberal Party needs to be the best version of the Liberal Party.”
The full interview can be read here.