Ex-Canada justice minister to testify about ethics allegations Wednesday

01 March, 2019, 20:29 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Trudeau government clears Jody Wilson-Raybould to speak to justice committee on SNC-Lavalin

"Waiving privilege, waiving Cabinet confidentiality, is something that we had to take very seriously but I'm pleased that Ms. Wilson Raybould is going to be able to share her perspective", Trudeau told reporters.

In response to her testimony, Trudeau said he completely disagrees with how Wilson-Raybould characterized the events, and maintained that he and his staff "always acted appropriately and professionally".

Wernick told MPs at that committee that he used his meeting to "convey consequences" of not offering a remediation agreement to Wilson-Raybould.

Nevertheless, her appearance at committee is hotly anticipated, the first time Wilson-Raybould will break her silence on the anonymously sourced allegation of improper pressure since it first surfaced three weeks ago. He asked Ms. Wilson-Raybould to confirm whether, in being asked to issue a directive on a specific case, she was being asked to do something "historic".

"I was sickened and appalled by [Wilson-Raybould's] story of inappropriate and frankly, borderline illegal pressure brought to bear on her by the highest levels of Justin Trudeau's government", Scheer said.

Justice Minister David Lametti, who was advising Trudeau on the matter of privilege, said Tuesday his office had contact with Wilson-Raybould's legal team on the matter, but would give no details about those conversations.

"It is important that people get an opportunity to testify or share their point of view with the committee", he said.

But she now says she needs those restrictions waived not just for the time when she was attorney general, but also for anything that was said or done after she was shuffled on January 14 to the veterans affairs post, including her eventual resignation from cabinet a month later and her presentation to cabinet last week about her reasons for resigning.

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Wilson-Raybould wrote to Justice Committee chair Anthony Housefather on Monday requesting not to appear until as numerous "possible constraints" were removed. In her letter, she says the half-hour opening statement "will certainly not provide sufficient time for me to provide a full, complete version of events" but will allow "at least a reasonably detailed summary of them".

It has been almost three weeks since anonymous allegations were made that Wilson-Raybould was pressured by the Prime Minister's Office to negotiate a remediation agreement with Quebec's SNC-Lavalin, rather than pursue a criminal prosecution for bribery and fraud. Butts has confirmed Wilson-Raybould raised the SNC-Lavalin matter briefly and he advised her to speak to Wernick.

Mr. Butts resigned as the Prime Minister's principal secretary on February 18., rejecting any suggestion that he or anyone in the Prime Minister's Office put pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould.

Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt noted SNC-Lavalin was told September 4 that it would face criminal prosecution.

Wilson-Raybould was last week allowed to speak to her former cabinet colleagues to give her side of the story.

Trudeau said that the core issue is whether she felt "pressure or inappropriate pressure, and she will be able to speak fully to that", Trudeau said.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister and attorney general, has accepted an invitation from the House of Commons justice committee to testify on Wednesday about the allegation she was politically pressured to stay the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin in favour of a remediation agreement. In 2015, as a member of Carleton University's Board of Governors, Wernick referred publicly to student protests against tuition hikes that disrupted a board meeting, as having "no place in a lawful democratic society - (the) tactics of Brownshirts and Maoists".

The allegations in the report assert that officials pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene and urge the director of public prosecutions to reverse the decision not to offer a newly-created, untested legal tool called a remediation agreement or deferred prosecution agreement to the firm.



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