Tape undercuts moral highground

Taped conversation with PMO puts Wilson-Raybould’s ethics in question

Dear Editor,

Jody Wilson-Raybould lost any high ground she had in her dispute with the Prime Minister when the existence of a tape of her conversation with the Clerk of the Privy Council emerged.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould, despite the abhorrent behaviour of the PMO, has provided proof that she taped her conversation with the highest bureaucrat in land.

Such an action is a violation of Canadian Bar Association’s Code of Professional Conduct, namely Chapter XVI Responsibility to Others: “The lawyer’s conduct towards all persons with whom the lawyer comes into contact in practice should be characterized by courtesy and good faith.”

The commentary to that rule states that “the lawyer should not use a tape-recorder or other device to record a conversation, whether with a client, another lawyer or anyone else, even if lawful, without first informing the other person of the intention to do so.”

Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s conduct clearly violates that edict. The very existence of the recording of her conversation with Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council, is evidence of that.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia.

Rule 7.2-3 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia states: “A lawyer must not use any device to record a conversation between the lawyer and a client or another lawyer, even if lawful, without first informing the other person of the intention to do so.”

Ms. Wilson-Raybould has pointed to the defence that the Clerk of the Privy Council is not her client.

I find that argument highly dubious. She was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and was thus the top lawyer in the country. Her client appears to be the Government of Canada, and she was in charge of all the prosecutors in the country.

Is the Clerk of the Privy Council not a representative and/or an agent for the Government of Canada? He was contacting her on behalf of the Prime Minister trying to pressure her to change her decision. He was doing so as part of his employment with the Government of Canada.

His conduct was in itself reprehensible and showed a fundamental lack of respect for the rule of law and proper process, but his poor behaviour, and the Prime Minister’s poor behaviour, does not give Ms. Wilson-Raybould license to breach her ethical duties.

All the parties involved emerge from this struggle somewhat tainted, but is it Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s conduct that should be subject to discipline by her profession.

Mr. Trudeau’s conduct and Mr. Wernick’s conduct should be subject to the discipline of the electorate in the fall.

David R. Thompson, Murrayville

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