There were lots of reasons to fire Caroline Mulroney. So very, very many reasons.
Mulroney, Ontario’s former attorney general, provided cover for Premier Doug Ford when he unnecessarily invoked the Charter’s notwithstanding clause in a petty fight over the size of Toronto’s city council. Even when Ford undermined the judicial process, asking why unelected judges should prevail over the will of the majority, Mulroney bobbled in agreement instead of acting as a champion for the rule of law and due process.
Some people believe the earth is flat. Some people believe climate change is a myth. Some people believe the justice system is colour-blind. All of those people are dangerously wrong.
The Canadian justice system is one of the pillars that supports our democracy. The rule of law gives people a legal recourse to hold those in power to account.
Last week, the Ontario budget slashed funding to Legal Aid Ontario by over 30 per cent. Adding to the cruelty, the $133 million cut takes effect immediately – there was no advanced notice. And to make matters even worse the province has directed LAO that no provincial money can be used to cover immigration and refugee law, leaving that program with a staggering and unexpected $45 million shortfall.
Just because there is not a law prohibiting an act does not make that act right or moral. Criminality should not and cannot represent the line of propriety in politics. A defence that no law was broken is usually the last line of defence for the morally bankrupt.
So the real question is if Wilson-Raybould’s actions were moral? Was taping the conversation the right thing to do?
The SNC-Lavalin scandal has proven to be an insatiable beast with tentacles reaching deep into the political and legal worlds — perhaps even as far as the Supreme Court of Canada.
Gerald Butts came to the justice committee not to bury Canada’s former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould but to praise her. He told the committee that he was not going to “quarrel” with Wilson-Raybould’s evidence and pledged not to say a “single negative word about her.”
And then he did just that.
Last week, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick delivered some jaw-dropping evidence at the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights hearing into allegations that inappropriate political pressure was directed at former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to cut SNC-Lavalin a sweetheart deal.
Maybe I was wrong all along.
Maybe Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, was honestly trying to follow through on the government’s progressive pre-election justice promises.
The cold, hard truth is that Wilson-Raybould’s time as Canada’s justice minister was a massive disappointment for anyone who hoped the Liberal government would actually follow through on its lofty justice promises.