With one week to go to the Federal Budget and everyone away on break, things promised to be quiet in Ottawa this week, even maybe around the SNC/PMO Scandal. Of course, on Wednesday the Opposition parties have forced another emergency meeting of the House of Commons Justice Committee to discuss “their Request to Study Developments in the Accusation that the Prime Minister and his Closest Political Allies Conspired to Stop the Criminal Trial of a Company Accused of Bribery”. No biggie, right?
Well it remains to see what new will come from that televised meeting on Wednesday at 1 pm EST, but beyond that it seemed like it might be a quiet week. With the PM doing what so many Canadians are doing this week, taking some time away in sunny Florida, it seemed that the odds of big news coming forward were smaller than normal. Well, if this story has taught us anything, it probably is to expect the unexpected:
Yes folks, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, better known by the acronym of the OECD has been paying attention to the news up here. Specifically, the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery have noticed us, which lead them to release this:
The OECD Working Group on Bribery is concerned by recent allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin that are subject to proceedings in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The Canadian engineering and construction group is the subject of an ongoing prosecution into allegations of the bribery of Libyan officials to obtain a Can$ 58-million contract to restore a water pipeline.http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/oecd-will-follow-canadian-proceedings-addressing-allegations-of-political-interference-in-foreign-bribery-prosecution.htm
As a Party to the Anti-Bribery Convention, Canada is fully committed to complying with the Convention, which requires prosecutorial independence in foreign bribery cases pursuant to Article 5. In addition, political factors such as a country’s national economic interest and the identity of the alleged perpetrators must not influence foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions.
This is not the kind of news that this government or the Prime Minister really want now. It’s one thing to be facing your fifth ethics investigation in four years or to have a House of Commons committee studying the matter; it’s a very different level of trouble to have the OECD making any comment about the independence of the Canadian judicial system that involves the words “concerned by recent allegations of interference.”
These are the kinds of things that the OECD doesn’t say everyday, especially about Canada, a country that is supposed to be a shining example to the World in these matters. But to me it’s as much as the exact words that are being used here as anything else; “concerned by recent allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin”. That’s not being said about a third world banana republic, that’s being said about us. The government can trot out the “but jobs, jobs, jobs” line all they like, but that rationale does not excuse or allow interference. According to Jody Wilson-Raybould, Gerald Butts allegedly may have said that “no solution here doesn’t involve at least some political interference”, but as the OECD seems to be pointing out here, there is no provision in the law for “some” political interference. It’s not a matter of degree, it’s a matter of if it was tried or not to any degree.
So as this week keeps moving on, we now know there are another set of eyes watching over this story, this time watching from Paris. The longer this goes, the deeper this story gets, and the worse it is for the government. Yet this is all their own doing so far, and the longer it goes along, we are left to wonder what exactly is left for them to do to try to get out of this. Stay tuned.