“Nothing to see here, move along.” – Movie trope
Last week the CBC published a story saying that a staffer in Danielle Smith’s office sent a series of emails to Crown prosecutors challenging their assessment and direction on criminal cases arising from the Coutts border blockades and protests.
You remember Coutts, the place where the trucker convoy blocked the border for 2 weeks and the RCMP seized long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armour, a machete, ammunition, and a high-capacity firearm magazine. Thirteen people were arrested on charges including mischief, weapons charges and conspiracy to murder RCMP officers.
Smith’s office responded to the story in a statement saying Smith had not been in contact with Crown prosecutors and had no knowledge of any of her staffers doing so, but if it happened “appropriate action” would be taken. Smith did not clarify what the “appropriate action” might be.
Pressure mounted. The NDP (and others) demanded an independent investigation.
Smith offered an “independent public service” review. The public service together with the IT department would review the emails of her 34 staff and the 400 crown prosecutors. She’d get back to us “early next week.”
This is nowhere near enough.
Public Service Review
Smith can talk about the “independence” of the public service all she likes, but an “independent” public service review is not the same as an independent investigation because it lacks accountability and it is not transparent. .
If Smith insists on turning this review over to a subset of the 25,000 public servants working in government then we need to know who’s leading the team, who’s on the team, and who the team reports to.
We also need to know the team’s mandate. What have they been instructed to look for? Is it any and all correspondence between a staffer (or former staffer) to a prosecutor (or former prosecutor) or is it more limited in scope. Does it include deleted emails and emails that have been deleted from the deleted files?
Who decides which emails are relevant and which are not? The IT guys? the team leader? the team leader’s boss? Danielle Smith?
Who is going to write the report on the results of the review?
We wouldn’t be asking these questions if Smith agreed to an independent investigation.
Frankly if Smith’s predecessor, Jason Kenney, agreed to allow an independent investigation (by retired Justice Adele Kent) into the conduct of his justice minister Kaycee Madu who called the Edmonton chief of police over a traffic ticket, it boggles the mind that Smith won’t agree to an independent investigation into allegations of political interference with Crown prosecutors’ working on the prosecution of people charged with conspiracy to commit murder, weapons charges, and mischief.
Too many gotchas
So here’s the kicker.
Even if Smith’s independent public service review turns up nothing, no incriminating emails, nada, she’s cooked.
As a caller told Smith on her radio show, her past comments give her “zero credibility.” and there have been “too many gotchas” to take her at her word if she announces there were no incriminating emails from her staff to Crown prosecutors.
Smith responded by reminding the caller that in the leadership race she’d been asked if there was an avenue for amnesty now that the public health orders had been rescinded and the people who’d enacted them were gone. She said it was “in that context” she asked the AG if there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction and whether it would be in the public interest to prosecute.
We get that, but the caller (like the rest of us) isn’t demanding an independent investigation into dropping fines for people who violated covid public health restrictions.
He (and we) are demanding an independent investigation into whether Smith’s staff politically interfered with the Crown’s decision to prosecute people who are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, weapons charges, and mischief.
Too many gotchas
This is big and Smith’s refusal to treat it as such is astounding…but in keeping with her consistent lack of judgement.
From comments signalling sympathy for Russia in the Ukraine war, to insisting the unvaccinated are the most discriminated in her lifetime, to telling Rebel News she regularly checks in with prosecutors on covid cases (then backtracking to say everyone knows a politician can’t do that), to promising to check into amnesty for those convicted of covid health restrictions (then saying some Albertans (Smith?) confuse American law with Canadian law)…the list goes on.
But this is more than a gaffe. It’s a a potential political scandal.
The only way we’ll know for sure whether the CBC story is true or false is if there’s an independent investigation, but Smith refused to go there. Nothing to see here; move along.
One can’t help but wonder why.