Scheer calls for Trudeau to resign over SNC-Lavalin affair

Christopher Davidson
March 1, 2019

Nevertheless, Wilson-Raybould accepted the committee's invitation to testify Wednesday afternoon about allegations the Prime Minister's Office improperly pressured her last fall to drop a criminal prosecution against Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

According to the order, the Governor General on the recommendation from the Prime Minister "authorizes the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Attorney General, and any persons who directly participated in discussions with her relating to the exercise of her authority under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act respecting the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin".

Wilson-Raybould has said very little publicly since the Globe and Mail first reported the allegations, having maintained that she was bound by solicitor-client privilege, meaning that the government and its leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, had the final word about whether she was allowed to share details about their conversations that involved SNC-Lavalin.

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer said that in light of Wilson-Raybould's testimony, Trudeau should resign as prime minister and the RCMP should open an investigation into the issue. However, in a letter to the committee confirming her appearance, Wilson-Raybould cautioned that she might not be able to fully speak to everything they want to hear from her on.

She said she explained the law to Trudeau and told him she "had made up my mind" to not intervene with Roussel.

The Globe and Mail sparked the controversy on February 7, reporting that Trudeau's aids pressed Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin for bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.

"On Sept. 17, Jody Wilson-Raybould told the prime minister and the clerk of the Privy Council in no uncertain terms she wasn't going to overrule her deputy on the matter", Raitt told CTV.

The waiver given to Wilson-Raybould to speak about her time as attorney general also applies to others in government with whom she spoke about the SNC-Lavalin prosecution.

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Wilson-Raybould says the waiver does not apply to anything said or done after she was shuffled on January 14 to the veterans-affairs post - including her resignation from cabinet a month later and her presentation to cabinet last week about her reasons for resigning.

It has been 20 days since the story first broke and since then, Wilson-Raybould has resigned from cabinet, Trudeau's top adviser has resigned while claiming no wrongdoing, and Trudeau continues to say that there was nothing improper about the interactions with Wilson-Raybould on this matter.

Any questioning of Wilson-Raybould along those lines will presumably lead nowhere today. The agreement would have allowed the company to pay reparations but avoid a criminal trial on charges of corruption and bribery.

It has been almost three weeks since the allegation first surfaced that Trudeau's office pressured Wilson-Raybould last fall to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, rather than pursue a criminal prosecution for corruption and bribery related to government contracts in Libya.

Trudeau has insisted he was always clear that the decision whether to prosecute was hers and hers alone.

She disputed that version of events, saying Trudeau only offered some vague assurance after she confronted him directly at the September 17 meeting, two weeks after Roussel had decided not to consider a remediation agreement.

Wilson-Raybould is also likely to provide her version of a December 5 dinner with Butts, who resigned last week. Butts has insisted that at no time did he apply improper pressure on the former minister.

So far, the Liberal majority on the justice committee has balked at calling staffers as witnesses, but it could reconsider after hearing from Wilson-Raybould.

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