Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/3/2019 (435 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
So, this much is clear: everyone is appalled, no one was involved and pretty much everybody thinks there should be an investigation to find out who is responsible.
The leak to media outlets this week of confidential information related to two Manitoba judges is the latest alarming turn in the SNC-Lavalin affair that has now fully enveloped the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Reports Monday by The Canadian Press and CTV suggested the relationship between Mr. Trudeau and former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould had become strained several months before the dispute over alleged demands by the Prime Minister’s Office for intervention in the corruption and bribery case against the Quebec-based engineering firm.
According to the reports, tensions rose last year because of a disagreement between the PM and the justice minister over prospective nominees to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould reportedly favoured Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal for the vacancy created by the retirement in 2017 of former chief justice Beverley McLachlin, and also for the role of chief justice. Mr. Trudeau ultimately appointed Alberta Appeal Court Judge Sheilah Martin to the SCOC vacancy and elevated Quebec Justice Richard Wagner to the position of chief justice.
The Globe and Mail later reported Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s support of Mr. Joyal for the SCOC appointment was part of a larger plan that would have seen Manitoba provincial court Judge Ken Champagne appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench top job vacated by Mr. Joyal, thereby making Mr. Champagne, who is Métis, the first Indigenous chief justice of any superior court in Canada.
As a strictly observed rule, information about high-court nominations and deliberations is considered highly sensitive and is kept confidential in the interest of maintaining the integrity and independence of the judicial process. That any such information would be leaked is a betrayal of protocol on a grand scale.
Which is why, one supposes, everyone even peripherally connected to the issue — whether by justice system association, SNC-Lavalin connection or PMO inclination — has assumed a posture of righteous indignation when questions of the leak and its source have been raised.
"Strongly condemn" was Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s sentiment toward the leak in an email to the Free Press, in which she suggested an investigation of the source would be appropriate.
"We take the integrity of our institutions seriously," the PMO stated in denying any involvement in the breach.
"We condemn the number of leaks that have happened recently," Mr. Trudeau said Thursday, after two days spent sidestepping questions on the issue.
Everyone’s appalled. No one was involved. So perhaps the aforementioned investigation is what’s required.
A good starting point, as it is in all sleuthful pursuits, is the consideration of motive. Who stood to gain by having information made public about a pre-SNC-Lavalin dispute between the PM and an erstwhile senior cabinet minister? Whose agenda would be served by the inference Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s erratic behaviour predates SNC-Lavalin?
Who might be in desperate need of a diversion, a distraction or even a deception that would turn public attention away from the SNC-Lavalin scandal that shows no signs of lessening the wet-sandbag weight it has tethered to Mr. Trudeau’s political fortunes?
It’s probably worth noting the unnamed sources were described in one Globe and Mail story as "a leak from within the government."
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