Economic Corruption, Political Machinations And Legal Ethics: Correspondents’ Report From Canada
Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justin Trudeau, SNC Lavalin, Canadian Politics
On 19 October 2015 the Liberal Party of Canada won the general election and Justin Trudeau became Canada’s 23rd prime minister. During both the political campaign and the period after the election, Mr. Trudeau made many promises about ‘doing politics differently’. Two key claims in particular stood out: to make gender equality a key policy principle, and to make reconciliation with Indigenous peoples Canada’s most important relationship. As affirmation of the first commitment, Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet was the first in Canadian history to have a 50% female complement. As proof of the second commitment, he appointed Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould as Minister of Justice and Attorney General. She was the first Indigenous person to be appointed to this position. Despite some challenges in moving the reconciliation agenda forward (particularly in the context of newly proposed pipelines crossing Indigenous territories and an Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women) by all appearances it seemed as if Prime Minister Trudeau and Ms. Wilson-Raybould had a solid working relationship.
But, out of the blue, on 14 January 2019, in what was meant to be a minor cabinet reconfiguration caused by an unanticipated resignation, the Prime Minister shuffled Ms. Wilson-Raybould from Minister of Justice and Attorney General to Minister of Veterans Affairs. At the press conference it was obvious that Ms. Wilson-Raybould was not pleased with this decision. The speculation was that the rift was over differences of opinion on how to respond to Indigenous issues. However, on 7 February 2019, a national newspaper suggested that the reassignment was about something very different – a disagreement over how the justice system should deal with corruption allegations against Canada’s largest engineering/construction corporation, SNC-Lavalin.
Richard Devlin & Sarah Frame, "Economic corruption, political machinations and legal ethics: correspondents’ report from Canada" (2019) 22:1-2 Legal Ethics 94.