PECKFORD: The public interest is for the elected. The clerk advises the elected. End of story. The clerk erred.
And we got the first blow from the Clerk of the Privy Council.
The clerk is a Deputy Minister; supposedly non-partisan; providing policy advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He is also secretary to the Cabinet.
He is not in the Prime Minister Office; he is in the Privy Council Office. C’est la difference.
Political advice is the purview of the PMO.
Listen: SNC Lavalin applied for an exemption under the recently-passed amendment to the criminal code surreptitiously inserted in a budget bill, for which they lobbied.
In my ten years as Premier no such decisions made by the Director of Prosecutions came to my office, or my office to that department. I never once discussed such matters with the minister or he/she with me. It was off limits.
So this “business “carried in the CBC article about the clerk of Privy Council (in my terms clerk of executive council) contacting the Minister about a matter decided or before the Director of Prosecutions is absurd. That the CBC would try to justify this with an anonymous source as I said in my last column is ridiculous.
This is not the Clerk’s job! He overstepped his bounds. And to go on and say the Clerk had to protect the public interest is outlandish, outside his mandate, and responsibilities.
Anyway, the matter of jobs etc. is not the issue. The issue is whether the application met the conditions of the Act. Competent, independent officials said it did not.
The public interest is for the elected. The clerk advises the elected. End of story. The clerk erred.
If the Government of Canada still wants to assist SNC Lavalin they should do the honorable thing and present to Parliament further amendments to the Criminal Code dealing with remediation agreements.
Of course, they cannot do this now with all the furor. Too bad.
Case closed? Not quite. Closed as it relates to the present decision by the Director of Prosecution but not closed in that those in the Government who tried to exert influence must be held accountable.
The mere incident of the PM meeting with the Minister and discussing this type of matter was wrong and undoubtedly approving that the clerk talk to the Minister is also wrong.