Green Party Leader Elizabeth May appears to like a good puzzle as much as the next gal. Perhaps that’s why she spent considerable time Tuesday morning in Surrey speaking to the SNC-Lavalin issue and sticking up for her fellow MP at the centre of the storm, the now-former Liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould.
“I believe Jody Wilson-Raybould has been very honourable in her work, very impressive, she has a lot of integrity,” said May, speaking at a Surrey Board of Trade function showcasing leaders of Canada’s federal parties.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expelled Liberal MPs Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus Tuesday.
“When we were elected in 2015 we won because we stood together as a team,” Trudeau told reporters afterward. “The old Liberal party was notorious for infighting. My leadership was a commitment to change that.”
“Civil wars within parties are incredibly damaging because they signal to Canadians that we care more about ourselves than we care about them,” Trudeau told reporters. “That’s why I made the difficult decision to remove Ms. Wilson Raybould and Dr. Philpott from the Liberal caucus.
Meantime, May said Wilson-Raybould and Philpott are “very brave. But they’re not the norm.”
An audience member remarked that as far as she could see no laws were broken and yet Wilson-Raybould “is burning down the House.”
May replied that that “the laws weren’t broken because she held firm.”
“The constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence really matters,” the Green Party leader said. “We can’t be a country where if you’re big enough and rich enough, you get a get-out-of jail-free card.
“In this case the prosecutorial independence is not the attorney general’s, the prosecutorial independence is to protect the independence of the director of public prosecutions,” she said. “She’s the only one, other that the attorney general, who’s looked through the evidence they have on SNC-Lavalin and made a determination under the law, does this corporation qualify for this new tool, deferred prosecution agreement, which I voted for because it looked pretty benign when I read the whole omnibus budget.
“I didn’t know it was for SNC-Lavalin,” May said. “I read the reasons it could be used and thought they were satisfactory. Well, I think they may be satisfactory because the director of public prosecutions in this country looked at the criteria under the deferred prosecution agreement, which included such things as a corporation can qualify if it self-reported its crime. SNC-Lavalin didn’t self-report.”
“We need to look at the evidence,” May said, “before we decide that the attorney general should do something unprecedented and intervene and tell the director of public prosecutions you’re going to give this company a deal.”