The complicated legality behind Wilson-Raybould silence on SNC-Lavalin scandal

23 February, 2019, 04:55 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Liberal MP Jody Wilson Raybould leaves the Parliament buildings following Question Period in Ottawa Feb. 19 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Adrian Wyld

Scheer called it "very telling" that Trudeau would not answer, saying this was not how an innocent person acts.

Wilson-Raybould maintains that she is unable to speak about the allegations due to solicitor-client privilege.

And he wanted to know whether Trudeau ever expressed a preference to Wilson-Raybould for a remediation agreement in the SNC-Lavalin case.

Trudeau has denied pressuring Wilson-Raybould on the matter.

"My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend", Butts wrote in a public letter.

The PM's former attorney general made the comments moments before a vote calling for a public inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair that has seen Wilson-Raybould resign from cabinet and Trudeau's top advisor Gerry Butts walk the plank all over allegations the government doesn't want to talk about and wishes would go away.

The House of Commons justice committee also voted to call Wilson-Raybould to testify in hearings, but rejected opposition calls to have Gerald Butts and other senior PMO officials appear.

The committee has also invited Justice Minister Lametti but he appears unlikely to be able to shed much light on the affair for the same reason.

"We had a fantastic meeting today", caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia said in an interview.

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.

Rankin called the committee's decision "a travesty".


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".

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment on the affair since the allegation from anonymous sources first surfaced in a Globe and Mail report nearly two weeks ago.

Her resignation followed accusations in the press that the Prime Minister's Office pressured her to help SNC-Lavalin obtain a leniency deal while she was attorney general.

Wilson-Raybould was the justice minister for more than three years, until she was moved in January to veterans affairs.

Court documents show the Director of Public Prosecutions told the engineering and construction giant last September 4 about its decision not to proceed with negotiations towards a remediation agreement to help SNC-Lavalin avoid bribery and fraud charges.

Trudeau has acknowledged there were conversations with her about the case, but that he told her the decision was hers to make, and she was not being directed to do anything.

Coming out of caucus Wednesday, Liberals tried to show a common front. It can not and should not take one moment away from the vital work the prime minister and his office is doing for all Canadians.

"The prime minister has kept (Wilson-Raybould) silent in order to protect himself", Scheer alleged.

These comments came as she rose to formally register that she would be abstaining from two votes on an NDP motion that called for the government to launch an independent public inquiry into the scandal that broke almost two weeks ago.

Trudeau is in no immediate danger, since Canadian political leaders are elected by party members at formal conventions and can not be sacked after a snap vote by parliamentarians, as is the case in Britain and Australia.

Montreal-based Leger Marketing released a poll on Wednesday showing that the Conservatives were in the lead with 36% support compared to 34% for the Liberals and 12% for the NDP.

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