“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”—Proverb, originated 1562
Did you catch all that?
Premier Smith has been all over the airwaves saying that regardless of what it looks like she wasn’t trying to interfere with the administration of justice.
On Thursday Jan 12 in a discussion about the prosecution of people who’d violated covid public health restrictions, Smith said she regularly asked crown prosecutors: “Is it in the public interest to pursue and is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction?”
This followed comments she’d made last December to Rebel News where she said, “I’ve put it to the prosecutors, and I have asked them to do a review of the cases with those two things in mind and I’m hopeful that we’ll see a true turning of the page,”
So Smith admitted she talked to public prosecutors, right?
On Friday Jan 13 the Alberta Attorneys’ Association issued a statement saying prosecutorial independence is fundamental to their role and a central component of an open and fair justice system; they must be able to perform their duties independent of political influence and they were not aware of any case where an elected official tried to contact a specific prosecutor to ask about a prosecution.
On the same day Smith said “Of course, I’ve never called a Crown prosecutor. You’re not allowed to do that as a politician. Everyone knows that.”
So Smith lied to Rebel News, she didn’t talk to the prosecutors?
No, she didn’t lie, it was just a silly mix up.
Smith said she “may have used some imprecise language, but [her] contact with the Justice department has always been through the appropriate channels, and that’s the attorney general…[she] had discussions with the attorney general and deputy attorney general and asked them to look into what options were available with respect to outstanding covid-related cases.”
So it’s all good now, right?
Cast your mind back to the spring of 2019 when Justin Trudeau was embroiled in the SNC Lavalin scandal.
The RCMP charged SNC Lavalin with corruption and fraud. The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to give SNC a deferred prosecution agreement. Jody Wilson-Raybould, the attorney general, said she felt pressured by Trudeau to override the Director of Public Prosecutions decision when Trudeau and others asked her to consider “other solutions.”
The justice committee investigated Wilson-Raybould’s allegations and the Ethics Commissioner found Trudeau had improperly pressured Wilson-Raybould to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC.
As we say in law, the Trudeau case and the Smith case are “on all fours” (very similar). Both heads of government spoke directly to the attorney general—and in Smith’s case the deputy attorney general as well—about a matter being handed by the Crown prosecutors, and they both asked the AG (and in Smith’s case the deputy AG) to consider something other than prosecution.
The big difference between the two cases is the evidence.
In Trudeau’s case the evidence was in the form of “he said/she said” testimony (Trudeau said he didn’t pressure Wilson-Raybould, she said he did).
While in Smith’s case the evidence is “she said, period.” Every damning word, every contradiction, came directly from Smith’s lips. The only person contradicting Smith is Smith.
This should worry Albertans because it leads us to wonder whether Smith lied when she said she’d talked to prosecutors. Furthermore her explanation that she spoke only to the AG and the deputy AG raises the question of whether she tried to use political influence to interfere with the administration of justice.
There are enough questions about Smith’s conduct to warrant an investigation or public inquiry into who Smith talked to, what she said, and why.
Where is the law and order party?
The NDP are asking for such an investigation. One would think the UCP, those stalwart champions of law and order, would support them.
Their federal brethren pounced on Trudeau in 2019 demanding answers to these questions after Wilson-Raybould’s allegations became public. In addition to the judicial committee hearing, the conservatives demanded additional investigations, a public inquiry and Trudeau’s resignation.
Why? Because all parties regardless of political stripe abhor the whiff of political interference in the administration of justice.
No wait, we’re talking about the party of Kaycee Madu. The UCP will happily accept Smith’s explanation. The former radio show host, hailed as intelligent and articulate, simply used imprecise language.
Really? What is vague and inexact about the word “prosecutors”? She either spoke to them or she didn’t.
What is vague and inexact about the words “attorney general” and “deputy attorney general” in the context of asking them to look into “options” other than prosecution? That’s either interference with the administration of justice or it’s not.
So why the free pass? As the ancient proverb says, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Or to put it more precisely, what’s good for the gander (Trudeau) is good for the goose (Smith).