Mulroney memoirs tell different story about interference with AG on Milgaard case
|National Post 31 Mar 2019 at 08:24|
OTTAWA â Jody Wilson-Raybould approvingly points to Brian Mulroney as a prime minister who knew better than to politically interfere with the judgment of his attorney general when it comes to criminal prosecutions.
But the former justice minister evidently didnât read Mulroneyâs memoirs, in which the former Conservative leader proudly recounts how he ordered his attorney general to refer a controversial murder case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
That attorney general was Kim Campbell who, according to Mulroney, did as she was told in the case of David Milgaard, who was wrongly imprisoned for 23 years for a murder he did not commit. She went on to become prime minister.
Mulroneyâs memoirs flatly contradict the version of events cited by Campbell in her own memoirs and repeated by Wilson-Raybould in a written submission last week to the House of Commons justice committee. The submission was intended to bolster her contention that she faced inappropriate pressure last fall from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his top aides and others to stop the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.
As part of her submission, Wilson-Raybould included transcripts of text messages she exchanged with her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, following a Dec. 18 meeting with Trudeauâs chief of staff, Katie Telford, and principal secretary Gerald Butts.
In the course of that discussion, Prince says Butts raised the Milgaard case.
âGerry told some story about how Mulroney met with David Milgaardâs mom, walked into the cab(inet) room and told Kim Campbell she had to fix it. She gave him all these AG reasons why she couldnât interfere but then she ultimately did what Mulroney wanted and was right,â Prince says.
After asking for more details about the reference to Milgaard, Wilson-Raybould then asks Prince to send her Campbellâs cell phone number, commenting âGood grief â this is absurd.â
Wilson-Raybould met with Campbell the following day at a Vancouver coffee shop.
âNeedless to say, she categorically denied what Mr. Butts had said and was quite offended and outraged by the comments. She adamantly denied the characterization not only of her as the attorney general but of her former boss, Prime Minister Mulroney,â Wilson-Raybould wrote in her submission.
âShe further reflected â as she did in her memoirs (1996) â that Brian Mulroney âwas much too good a lawyer to intervene improperly in the matter. He never breathed a word about the Milgaard case to his AG, nor did anyone in his office ever attempt to influence her handling of the case.ââ
Wilson-Raybould did not mention that Campbell also wrote in her memoirs that Mulroney had âblindsidedâ her by meeting with Milgaardâs mother, Joyce, in 1991. She wrote that she was assured the two discussed only Milgaardâs living conditions in prison and not his application for a review of his conviction for the 1969 rape and murder of a Saskatoon nursing student, which Campbell had rejected.
Nevertheless, Campbell termed it an âinappropriate interventionâ and suggested it was politically motivated. She wrote that Mulroneyâs chief of staff, Hugh Segal, told the British Columbia Conservative caucus that the prime ministerâs meeting with Joyce Milgaard was âbrilliantâ and the kind of thing he needed to do more to burnish his image in the run-up to the 1993 election.
Nor did Wilson-Raybould mention, or appear aware of the fact, that Mulroney completely contradicted Campbellâs version of events in his own memoirs, published in 2007.
He recounted how he was âdisturbedâ by the way in which Campbell had âbrushed offâ Joyce Milgaard, having told her during a public encounter: âMadam, if you wish to have your sonâs case dealt with fairly, please do not approach me.â He was âprivately furious with herâ for rejecting Milgaardâs application for a review of his case.
Mulroney provided a condensed transcript of his meeting in Winnipeg with Joyce Milgaard, during which he said he was âextremely prudentâ in his choice of words because he knew they were being recorded. At one point, he told her that Campbell is going to look at ânew information thatâs come inâ and that heâs going to be talking to her when he gets back to Ottawa about her sonâs case.
When he got back, Mulroney wrote, he had Campbell summoned to his parliamentary office where, âbecause of the sensitivity of the matter, I met with her alone.â
ââThe matter has been reviewed by the department and I have conveyed our decision,â she told me.
ââKim,â I answered, âthat is not acceptable to me. The law provides for a reference to the Supreme Court and it is my intention to ensure that this case is in fact referred to the Supreme Court.â
âMy tone was firm and my words unequivocal. She understood and changed her tack quickly.
ââPrime Minister,â she answered, âIf this is the case, may I make the announcement myself?ââ
The top court ultimately recommended Milgaardâs conviction be set aside. Campbell ordered a new trial but the government of Saskatchewan refused to do so, issued a stay of proceedings and freed Milgaard in 1992. Five years later, DNA evidence from the victimâs clothes cleared Milgaard and led to the arrest and eventual conviction of serial rapist Larry Fisher.
Butts and the top public servant, Michael Wernick, have testified that no improper pressure was exerted on Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin case. They have maintained they only wanted her to get a second opinion on the advisability of overriding the public prosecutorâs decision, as allowed by law.
Wilson-Raybouldâs written submission, released Friday, supplements her nearly four hours of oral testimony last month. She believes she was moved out of her dual role as justice minister and attorney general to Veterans affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to intervene in the SNC case. She resigned from cabinet a month later.
It s hard to come up with a clear profile. It s a fairly diverse group that crosses income and education lines
While the case was being heard, both children contracted whooping cough, one of the diseases covered by standard childhood vaccinations
Under the mature minor doctrine, a minor is deemed capable of giving consent if he or she has the maturity and intelligence to decide about their own health care
A leading ethicist says every child has a right to be vaccinated and protected against measles and other childhood infections