Motion 435 (Authorize Committee to Examine Certain Events Relating to the Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to Call Witnesses)
Honourable senators, I will be brief.
I rise to support Senator Harder’s amendment, for three reasons. First, the matters in relation to SNC are already being examined by the Ethics Commissioner of the House of Commons. I know questions have been raised about that, but I think it’s important to note that, in parallel, the matter is under active review by the House of Commons Justice Committee. It’s becoming more active; it’s becoming broader by the day; and we’re hearing important testimony that is being placed on the public record.
Of course, the issues at play with SNC are also now before the courts. A judicial review has been launched, and I believe there’s a preliminary inquiry on criminal charges. The testimony in the House of Commons Justice Committee has already shed considerable light on the issues we are talking about here, and we have every reason to expect that will continue.
Colleagues, let me say that I absolutely applaud and welcome a less partisan and more independent approach to all the work we do. I will say that, like you and others here, I’m still learning about the matter we are discussing. I’m learning more every hour from testimony at the Justice Committee, and we know that more light will be shed on this. I think that the Office of the Ethics Commissioner and the Justice Committee of the House of Commons are appropriate places for these matters to be examined.
In the interim, I know together with everyone else, there has been no variance in the well-known position taken by the federal prosecution service. That we do know. To this point in time SNC-Lavalin’s request for a deferred prosecution arrangement has been denied. I’m going to observe, as did somebody at the Justice Committee last week, that the system we have in place in our political process to protect the integrity of the rule of law, however messy that might be — and there are people in this place besides me who have seen the messiness of government and seen the relationships between political actors in government and know it can be difficult and it can be contested — has worked in terms of its outcome precisely as it was intended.
My point right now is a simple one: At this time, given those two reviews, given the degree and the breadth of testimony that we’re hearing, particularly from the Justice Committee, there is no purpose at this time in an additional Senate inquiry. Thank you.