Statement by Karen McCrimmon, Member of Parliament for Kanata-Carleton
Ottawa, Ontario — 8 April 2019
I know that many of my constituents have questions about the events surrounding the SNC Lavalin prosecution, and the actions of Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott. I must emphasize that what I am sharing with you today is my personal perspective, no one else’s.
First, I think it is important to understand what a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) is, and why it exists in our laws (and the laws of 8 other G7 and OECD countries). These DPAs (or Remediation Agreements) came about after the Enron scandal and the criminal conviction and subsequent bankruptcy of Arthur Andersen which led to 85,000 people losing jobs and/or pensions. A DPA is designed to protect innocent people. In the case of SNC Lavalin, their leaders of 13 years ago were indeed charged with crimes and these people are no longer with the company. I firmly believe that the Prime Minister, concerned about the possible loss of thousands of jobs across Canada, wanted to know if the DPA could be considered as a remedy to protect innocent SNC employees, pensioners, suppliers and investors. SNC could move its head office from Canada, as we have seen before with other companies. It is not justice if it is innocent people who pay the price.
I have come to wonder whether the former Attorney General has a philosophical objection to the use of a DPA at any time, even though it is a legal option in Canada’s Rule of Law and it is a tool often used by other G7 countries. I am confounded as to why the former AG would refuse to seek a second opinion (especially from someone as esteemed as Beverley McLachlin, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), refused to appear before a parliamentary committee to discuss how a DPA could ever be used, and refused to provide a copy of a letter prepared by her department to advise the PCO on the impact of a criminal conviction on SNC Lavalin. I could certainly see how these actions could create tensions among the PCO and PMO staff. I guess that my own style of decision making would welcome expert second opinions, consultation and collaboration.
Without a DPA, Canadian taxpayers will likely pay millions of dollars for a prosecution, when the outcome will be largely the same as a DPA – a monetary penalty. The only difference is that the company will not be able to bid on federal contracts and so could go bankrupt. The directing minds behind the payoffs have long since departed the company, and many have been or are being prosecuted. I also question what the chances of a successful prosecution really are, given these realities. If there were to be a DPA, the company could be paying the Government of Canada a hefty fine (maybe as much as 100-200 million dollars) and would also have additional transparency, due diligence and whistle-blower regimes imposed in order to rehabilitate the company into a better corporate citizen.
Perhaps my perspective is influenced by my training and experience as a mediator. My goal was always to negotiate a settlement rather than having one imposed or adjudicated. My job as a mediator was to try and achieve justice without having a case go to court! If a case ended up in court, it meant that I had failed as a mediator.
The Opposition has repeatedly said that they believe “every word” of the former Attorney General. She has said that the perceived pressure for her to consider using the DPA at no time resulted in breaking the law. For me, this is critically important.
Please make no mistake that the Opposition knows and understands that no laws were broken by anyone in the PMO or Government. They are simply choosing to try and instigate internal disagreements among the Liberal Caucus and diminish the trust and confidence Canadians have placed in this government.
After a 31-year military career with many female ‘firsts’ and a career of proudly helping other women to break barriers, believe me when I say: this is not a gender issue! This is a question of whether the Liberal Caucus thought that two individuals, who openly expressed their lack of confidence in the Government and in their team, should remain as part of that team.
Were mistakes made? Likely. Was communication weak? Absolutely.
However, two senior Ministers never spoke with the Prime Minister about their concerns, never brought their complaints to the Caucus (the team), but instead chose to speak to the media. They chose to go to the media to express their dissatisfaction with leadership, and with the professionalism of our team. To my military friends, I would ask that you consider this scenario. You are on deployment and make a decision that even those who disagree with the decision say that no laws were broken but they are still unhappy. Instead of coming to you personally to discuss the situation, instead of coming to discuss the situation inside the squadron or regiment, they repeatedly go to the media to air their grievances. Would you consider this appropriate? I don’t.
Caucus members discussed extensively what our options were and how fences could be mended, but the two members continued their engagements with the media.
Given that the two members were unlikely to stop their damaging interventions with the media, it was the overwhelming consensus that it would be better to face attacks from outside, as opposed to fending them off from within the team. The PM took this very difficult decision, but it was clearly informed by his team.
The question for all of us now is: since clearly the highest legal authority in the country said that no laws were broken, should internal disagreements within the Liberal Party be our singular focus? With the environment in peril, with investments in our families, our seniors, a prescription health program, housing and infrastructure so badly required, with so many public safety and national security issues needing our attention, my answer is ‘no’. We – and all Parliamentarians – need to focus on serving Canadians, and that is exactly what I intend to do.