Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Wilson-Raybould says she wants opportunity to 'speak my truth'

Centre Block Parliament Hill Trudeau says an ‘airing’ needed on SNC-Lavalin affair, dodges questions on calls for public inquiry
Sandra Phillips | 23 February, 2019, 04:56

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould nearly two weeks after federal prosecutors informed SNC-Lavalin it would not be invited to negotiate a settlement to help the company avoid criminal prosecution.

Meanwhile, Wilson-Raybould showed up for the weekly Liberal caucus meeting today but wouldn't say if she will provide any explanations to her fellow MPs. That's when the Globe and Mail first cited unnamed sources who alleged that the PMO pressured Wilson-Raybould - who was the attorney general at the time - to have federal prosecutors pursue a remediation agreement rather than criminal prosecution in a corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin.

Opposition members of the justice committee maintain the hearings will be meaningless unless Trudeau waives solicitor-client privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak freely and unless senior officials in his office, including Butts, are called to testify.

"I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in (Trudeau's) office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould", Butts said in a statement when he resigned on Monday.

Two people that didn't speak: Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould walked by reporters after the meeting without answering questions.

It is not clear when Wilson-Raybould might appear.

The motion, which also implored the prime minister to waive solicitor-client privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak, was defeated by the Liberals with a vote of 134 in favour and 160 against. "I will appear", she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

One Liberal described the tone as polite and said "there were no naked raw emotions on the table", even when Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould spoke.

"The coverup continues", said Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus after the closed-door committee meeting.

During question period, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer peppered Trudeau with questions about the September 4 refusal by the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, which faces charges of bribery and corruption related to government contracts in Libya.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he took the opportunity to apologize to his former minister for being too slow to denounce anonymous comments and editorial cartoons about Wilson-Raybould that some considered racist and sexist.

"I want to highlight something I said at caucus this morning", Trudeau said on his way into the Commons.

Scheer shot back: "It is so telling that the prime minister can not even answer this kind of simple question".

Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould leaves the Parliament buildings following Question Period in Ottawa, Tuesday.

Angus said it is a "joke" to suggest the Liberal-dominated committee will get to the bottom of anything, particularly when it has not so far agreed to call anyone from the Prime Minister's Office to testify.

As Conservative Michael Chong pointed out, committees have all the powers of a court to compel witnesses, exploding the contention by a Liberal justice committee chair, Anthony Housefather, last week that a parliamentary committee was not the right place to investigate the SNC case.

Asked about this in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Trudeau bobbed and weaved.

"We have a number of things going on".

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, asked about the chances of the government losing its focus, said "we are working very hard to ensure that doesn't happen".

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