What is the PMO, who works there and what does it do? A guide for the SNC-Lavalin affair – The Globe and Mail

Telford and Butts look on as Trudeau delivers his opening remarks during the Meeting of First Ministers in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-pmo-trudeau-snc-lavalin-gerald-butts-explainer/

Archive of this important public interest story below along with related stories that fill in some of the gaps.

June 3, 2017: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confers with his chief of staff, Katie Telford, at the National Press Gallery Dinner in Gatineau, Que.
FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A pedestrian walks past the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. headquarters in Montreal.
CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

Related

Fraud, bribery charges against former SNC-Lavalin executive Stephane Roy thrown out -The Globe and Mail

The incredible miscalculation by Trudeau and co. – Macleans – opinion

Trudeau and his inner circle turned a completely manageable concern into a scandal. And one of them will need to take the fall.
by Stephen Maher Feb 13, 2019

“We know that the Liberals stealthily inserted a clause into a budget bill that made this kind of agreement possible, seemingly with a view to helping SNC-Lavalin, a company that made more than $100,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the Liberals [and Conservatives], and we know that Trudeau demoted Wilson-Raybould after she declined to cut the firm a sweetheart deal, and replaced her with a Quebecer who would presumably be more likely to give SNC-Lavalin what it wants.”

It concerning that these illegal contributions took place and the SNC Lavalin was allowed to avoid prosecution via compliance agreement but it also biased for the reporter to exclude the conservatives who were beneficiaries of the donations as well. The media needs to expose the wrong doings in the establishment not just the current party leading government and call for the much needed reforms.

Former SNC-Lavalin exec charged with illegal federal political contributions – Global News
The Montreal-based company agreed in 2016 to a compliance agreement, which detailed almost $118,000 in donations to the Liberal and Conservative parties, candidates and associations through company employees or their spouses who were then reimbursed by SNC-Lavalin.

Jody Wilson-Raybould’s trail of political breadcrumbs – Macleans – politics

Archive of above Globe article

The Globe and Mail
EXPLAINER
What is the PMO, who works there and what does it do? A guide for the SNC-Lavalin affair
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 19, 2019
At the heart of the SNC-Lavalin affair is one important question: Whether the Prime Minister’s Office pressed the justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to intervene in the federal bribery case against a Quebec construction giant. But what is the PMO anyway, and what role do some of its key members play in the controversy? Here’s a guide, including some of The Globe and Mail’s in-depth profiles of the major players in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inner circle.
What is the PMO?
— image —
June 3, 2017: Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau confers with his chief of staff, Katie Telford, at the National Press Gallery Dinner in Gatineau, Que.
FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS
The Prime Minister’s Office is exactly what it sounds like: A team of people surrounding a prime minister, helping to carry out their leader’s personal vision for how the government should be run. PMO staffers control the prime minister’s schedule, meetings and travel; they help prime ministers pick candidates for public appointments; advisers keep prime ministers informed on major issues, shape their decisions and communicate what they decide to the governing party and caucus; and they oversee public relations.
In some cases, PMO staffers can be unofficial diplomats, such as how Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts and chief of staff Katie Telford acted as go-betweens with Trump administration officials to smooth out the fractious U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement talks behind the scenes.
In 2016, The Globe and Mail’s Adam Radwanski and a team of Globe politics reporters took in-depth looks at how the new Trudeau PMO was taking shape and how it differed from those of his predecessors. The institution Mr. Trudeau inherited was largely shaped by his father, Pierre Trudeau, in the 1960s: It was he who turned the office from a loose, decentralized corps of about 40 people under Lester Pearson to a structured corps of several dozen. But the younger Trudeau’s initial impulse was to have a smaller, less hierarchical PMO, aiming to create a collaborative decision-making force, Mr. Radwanski explained:
It has been striking to hear some government insiders use the word “Pearsonian” to describe what Justin Trudeau is aiming for in his PMO. In any event, he is pushing, harder than just about any prime minister since his father, for a less centralized and regimented, more open and collaborative decision-making process than Ottawa has been conditioned to expect. If it works, it will produce more innovative and well-considered policies than would otherwise be possible; if it fails, a lack of discipline could make things messy in a hurry.
What does it have to do with the SNC-Lavalin case?
— image —
A pedestrian walks past the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. headquarters in Montreal.
CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS
PMO staffers keep the prime minister connected to a complex web of government and public-service departments, several of which are connected to the SNC affair. Chief among these is the Justice Department, which oversees the federal prosecutors that are investigating claims that SNC bribed Libyan officials between 2001 to 2011. On Feb. 7, The Globe and Mail, citing sources granted anonymity, reported that the PMO pressed Ms. Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the fall of 2018 and reach an out-of-court settlement with SNC, which she refused to do. Months later, she was shuffled out of the justice portfolio, and within days of The Globe’s report, she resigned from cabinet.
The PMO is also the prime minister’s link to the Privy Council Office (PCO), a public-service agency that helps the prime minister and cabinet carry out their political vision. That agency has been embroiled in a different controversy about possible political interference in prosecutors’ independence. Lawyers for Mark Norman, a Navy vice-admiral accused of leaking official secrets, alleged at a pretrial hearing that the PCO discussed trial strategy with federal prosecutors, effectively bypassing the justice minister. On Feb. 12, the prosecution service reaffirmed its independence from the PCO, saying the agency “has not sought or received instructions in respect of the prosecution of Mr. Norman from the Privy Council Office or any other government department or body.”
Who’s who in the federal government
Elected
Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister
David Lametti
Justice Minister
It is made up of the PM and the PM’s top political staff, who advise the PM.
Oversees Canada’s justice system. Helps the federal government to develop policy and to draft and reform laws as needed.
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)
– The Privy Council Office (PCO)
– Department of Justice (DOJ)
– Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC)
Supports the PM and Cabinet. Led by the Clerk of the Privy Council, it helps the government in implementing its vision, goals and decisions.
Prosecutes federal offences and provides legal advice and assistance to law enforcement.
Appointed
– Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council
– Kathleen Roussel
Director of Public Prosecutions
— image–
MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Who’s in the PMO
Katie Telford, chief of staff: After co-chairing Mr. Trudeau’s election campaign, Ms. Telford became the second woman ever to hold the chief of staff’s job, after the brief tenure of Jodi White under Kim Campbell’s prime ministership in 1993. With the exit of Mr. Trudeau’s principal secretary (more on him below), Ms. Telford is now the most senior political operative in the PMO.
2016 profile: PMO’s Katie Telford: ‘People underestimate her, and that has worked to her advantage’
Mathieu Bouchard, senior adviser: A former Montreal lawyer, Mr. Bouchard is the senior Quebecker in the PMO, and also Mr. Trudeau’s point man on legal affairs. In 2016, The Globe’s Daniel Leblanc described him as the link between the PMO and federal lawyers in the PCO.
2016 profile: Trudeau adviser Mathieu Bouchard more than just PMO’s ‘Quebec guy’
Elder Marques, senior adviser: This former Bay Street trial lawyer came to Parliament Hill in 2016 as chief of staff to Navdeep Bains when he was minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. He moved to the PMO about a year later.
Kate Purchase, executive director of communications: During the 2015 election, Ms. Purchase was the Liberals’ point person for communications, a role she continued under Mr. Trudeau when he came to office.
Who’s not in the PMO any more
Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Mr. Trudeau, shown in Ottawa in 2017.
–image —
SEAN KILPATRICK/THE CANADIAN PRESS
For years, one of the star members of Mr. Trudeau’s team was his best friend, Gerald Butts. It was he who helped create the political narrative around Mr. Trudeau that allowed his Liberals to win office. In a 2016 profile, The Globe’s Mr. Radwanski likened him to David Axelrod, the American consultant who masterminded Barack Obama’s election victories:
Because Mr. Butts maintains an unusually high profile for a political aide in this country, there have been misconceptions about what that role is exactly. He is not Mr. Trudeau’s brain, although that theory was popular heading into last year’s election campaign, among those who doubted the one in Mr. Trudeau’s head. Nor is he Mr. Trudeau’s protector, a pseudo older sibling looking out for his more innocent friend ever since they met at McGill University in the 1990s. He’s not even alone at the top of the food chain among Mr. Trudeau’s aides: Katie Telford, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, has as much clout. What he is, really, is a sort of co-author as Mr. Trudeau tries to write history – someone who has an innate sense of the big-picture story the Prime Minister is trying to tell, and helps to make sure the government’s decisions are consistent with it.
But Mr. Butt’s days in the PMO came to an end on Feb. 18, two weeks after The Globe and Mail broke the news about the allegations of PMO pressure in the SNC case. In a public resignation letter, Mr. Butts denied that the PMO had pressed Ms. Wilson-Raybould but said his exit would help clear the air around Mr. Trudeau’s government:
I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in his office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould. We honoured the unique role of the Attorney General. At all times, I and those around me acted with integrity and a singular focus on the best interests of all Canadians.
… Any accusation that I or the staff put pressure on the Attorney General is simply not true. Canadians are rightly proud of their public institutions. They should be, because they work. But the fact is that this accusation exists. It cannot and should not take one moment away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians. My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend. It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away.
2016 profile: Gerald Butts, the BFF in the PMO
The PMO and SNC: Key unanswered questions
Mr. Trudeau has given varied accounts of the conversations he had with Ms. Wilson-Raybould about SNC: At first he said he did not direct her to act in the case, then admitted that they had discussed it, then said she had confronted him about whether he was ordering her to reach a certain decision about SNC and he told her “no.” The testimony of PMO officials might help to clear up the chain of events and who said what to whom. Opposition MPs pressed the House justice committee to call Mr. Butts, Ms. Telford and other staffers in the Justice Department and PCO as witnesses in an official hearing. The Liberal majority on that committee rejected those proposals, but allowed broader hearings about the SNC issue.
PMO staffers could also shed light on the several meetings they held with SNC since 2017, during which time the company visited people in the PMO 14 times and lobbied federal officials about “justice” and “law enforcement” issues more than 50 times, according to a federal registry. The officials SNC met with include Mr. Butts, Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Marques.
Compiled by Globe staff
With reports from Robert Fife, Steven Chase, Adam Radwanski, Shawn McCarthy, Justine Hunter and The Canadian Press

About Kevin Yaworski

I use my blog to write about things I find interesting or that I think are matter of public interest.
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1 Response to What is the PMO, who works there and what does it do? A guide for the SNC-Lavalin affair – The Globe and Mail

  1. Pingback: Fraud, bribery charges against former SNC-Lavalin executive Stephane Roy thrown out | Whats Up

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