/Separate roles 

Separate roles 

By Chad Ingram

Published March 7, 2019 

you think you’re sick of hearing about the SNC-Lavalin matter now, then
buckle up, or maybe don’t pay attention to the news until the fall’s
federal election, or maybe leave the country for a bit. 
Monday’s resignation of cabinet minister Jane Philpott, which followed
the resignation from cabinet by former attorney general and justice
minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, there is some blood in the water, which
means that the Opposition will try to stir up a frenzy that Conservative
leader Andrew Scheer can ride into the election. He’ll
continue to make calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau, calls Trudeau will ignore, as whatever kind of inquiry there is
going to be into allegations of political interference by the PM
It’s a familiar chorus, as the great pendulum of federal politics in Canada swings back and forth between red and blue. A Conservative leader chastising the alleged unethical behaviour of a Liberal prime minister. Trudeau
coasted into power in 2015 after Canadians became sick of the
government of Stephen Harper, who many had come to see as a serial
abuser of power and whose government was found in contempt of
Parliament. Nearly
a decade before, Harper rose to the office of PM on the current of the
sponsorship scandal that had engulfed the previous Liberal government. 
on and so forth. That is politics in this country and the political
theatre around the SNC-Lavalin affair will play out as it will. 
whole situation has underscored a flaw in our system, one that doesn’t
receive as much attention as alleged bad behaviour by a prime minister.
In Canada, the jobs of attorney general and justice minister – which are
two, separate roles – are vested in one person. 
The attorney general is a politically neutral position, beholden only to the rule of law. 
ministers, on the other hand, are, it is generally understood, beholden
to the government, and to their boss, the prime minister. 
when the country’s attorney general is acting in the capacity of
attorney general, it is completely inappropriate for the prime minster
to try to influence the behaviour of that person (which is the
allegation against Trudeau). However, when that person is acting in the
capacity of justice minister, it is completely appropriate for that
person to take direction from the PM. 
a problematic situation that is rife for conflict, the kind of conflict
we are now seeing play out and will see play out for weeks and probably
months to come. 


And there’s a simple
solution to avoiding this situation in the future. Split the roles and
assign them to separate human beings. It’s done in other countries, and
it makes irrefutable sense, regardless of one’s political or partisan