The Truth

I swear to tell
the truth,
the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth,
so help me God.

It’s not for nothing that I’ve watched countless legal dramas on TV.  This is the oath witnesses take, at least in America, and you can see exactly how such an oath would have come into being.  Just telling “the truth” isn’t sufficient.

Jody Wilson-Raybould gave sworn testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee last week.  It was compelling: If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to take 38 minutes and watch her statement

So we now have her truth (or “her perspective” as the PM was characterizing it, ahead of time), and the Committee — quite rightly — is calling other witnesses to get, um, their perspectives, I guess.  Who are they calling?  Gerry Butts, former Principal Secretary to the PM; Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council; and Nathalie Drouin, Deputy Minister at Justice.   If we’re counting noses on a “she said, he said” basis, that would be three witnesses: two alleged to have been pressuring Wilson-Raybould, and one (Drouin) who reports to one of  them (Wernick).

That’s all good by me (they’ll be pleased to know, I’m sure).  But I’d like to see more than presumed rebuttal witnesses: I’d like to see witnesses who could potentially corroborate Wilson-Raybould’s testimony.  As, for example, her Chief of Staff, a lawyer who went with her when she was shuffled to Veterans Affairs and who had meetings, phone calls, and text exchanges with PMO officials, according to Wilson-Raybould.

That of course, only makes sense if the Committee wants, you know, the whole truth.

 

12 Comments

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Tom – I figure that truth can be exceedingly complex. When we get into the area of motivations for actions, it’s often the case that there are multiple motivations, but we choose the one we like best (for our own actions) and the one we hate the most (for our “enemies'” actions).

  1. Thank you for the link to Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony concerning her role as Attorney General in regard to the SNC-Lavelin controversy. I want to question the praise she is collecting for her “moral integrity.”

    In my experience, the Rule of Law that is designed by legislative bodies falls far short of moral law and the teachings of Jesus. If you ask a lawyer for an opinion or judgment you will receive a narrow answer. When you pose a moral dilemma to that lawyer, it will depend on that woman’s or man’s belief system what the answer will be, unless her or his personal belief system is conceived as being subsumed strictly under the law of the land.

    One hopes that political representatives will enact morally just and wise laws but that hope has never been fully realized. When push comes to shove, a morally just person may bring a suit in a court of law aimed at changing the law. That is the other way our laws change. The Catch 22 in our system of law and of government is the intersection of public opinion, which influences who is elected, with the opinion of elected legislators who make the laws and appoint an attorney general to uphold them. Despite the assistance of educated and informed advisors, the legislators often do not come up with the best possible legislation.

    Wilson-Raybould is a lawyer taking a stand for the rule of law when the law may be inadequate to the case. She does not offer to explain her moral reasoning before she came to an opinion in the SNC-Lavelin case. She stands firmly on her opinion and justifies her stance in terms of how she conceives her role in that office as AG.

    I frequently disagree with Heather Mallik, who writes for the Toronto Star, but her column on the moral responsibility of Trudeau to the employees of SNC-Lavalin (not to the corporation as such) is a compelling one. There is more than one way to crush and destroy lives and one of them is by depriving people of jobs. For Trudeau’s political opponents to twist this situation into accusations of personal political greed is unjust. One man or woman’s wage can affect several family members, so multiply the 50,000 employees in this case by a factor of at least 4. Pierre Trudeau came into political prominence for upholding the rights of workers in Quebec. Justin Trudeau was raised to believe that he bears a moral responsibility to the people of Canada and to the workers of SNC-Lavelin, not just because they may or may not have voted for him but because that is his responsibility as the Prime Minister to Canadians.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Laurna – I agree that it’s easy to put any political decision into a partisan light and this is, sometimes, unjust. In this case, if the PM’s motivation was as you propose, then I’d say he had a responsibility to make the argument to the public.

  2. John Francis

    Tom: My question too. But can there be partial truths or are they just opinions?
    The world is awash with opinions often masquerading as discussions. But discussion requires locking opinions away and switching on the ears and the brain.
    Pursuit of the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth is not the province of lawyers or politicians but, at best, of philosophers, seers, saints and holy people in all ages and cultures. And they will inevitably discover that Truth and an onion have much in common. What lies at the centre when all the layers of opinion have been pee;led away. Take the pi out of opinion and you have it there too!
    Only that which is unknowable and unutterable. One is halted at the Gates of Paradise by the Coincidence of Contradictories (St Nicholas of Cusa)

    1. Isabel Gibson

      John – “The world is awash with opinions often masquerading as discussions. But discussion requires locking opinions away and switching on the ears and the brain.” Yes, it doesn’t help much to throw our opinions at each other. In the philosophical sense, I don’t think any of us (not even the principals) will ever know the whole truth of this matter. But we can and should pursue a reasonable approximation.

  3. John Whitman

    Isabel – I note that the Liberal majority on the Justice Committee declined to have Butts, Warnick and Drouin sworn in and testify under oath. If you aren’t testifying under oath, what is the point? Just saying.

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