Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Opposition keeps heat on Liberals over Wilson-Raybould

Opposition keeps heat on Liberals over Wilson-Raybould

Current Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti said there has been no evidence to justify a committee investigation into whether or not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or anyone in his office tried to have former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould abandon the prosecution of a case against SNC-Lavalin.

"As the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter", Wilson-Raybould wrote in a statement on Friday. The charges the company is facing were the result of an RCMP probe into business done in Libya. In her letter to Canadians she warned that an attorney general must speak truth to power and that "It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference". In return, the attorney general bears responsibility for decisions taken, and can't shift it to cabinet. But government officials said there was nothing wrong with that.

"Everyone was so proud that the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada was an Indigenous woman", McLeod said.

No such agreement was ever reached and Wilson-Raybould was moved to be minister of veterans affairs in a January cabinet shuffle.

The amendment was meant to bring Canada in line with its other major allies, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France, which all have similar provisions in their laws.

Consequently, they said, it was natural that internal discussions would have taken place after the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, informed SNC-Lavalin last October that a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this case. Did they ask her to take this plea option out which would give the opportunity to the company for billions of dollars in contracts?

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wants there to be an ethics investigation into the allegations and says if they're not true, like Trudeau said, then he has nothing to worry about. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has also pressured Trudeau directly to intervene on the company's behalf. "The DPP makes decisions, and if the attorney general wishes, I guess, to adjust that decision in some manner, the attorney general has to do so in writing and publicly so that it is transparent".

"Canadians deserve answers", he said.

According to the Globe, Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to play along and did not follow through despite the high-level pressure. And even in her role as attorney general, she was not precluded from consulting her colleagues on whether to instruct the public prosecutor to negotiate a remediation agreement.

Four years later as an election looms, the Globe and Mail story is a torpedo honing in on the PMO.

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He said what has transpired with the SNC Lavalin prosecution and efforts by the company to reach a negotiated settlement should be made public for Canadians.

None of that is likely to matter with opposition politicians, who maintain the whole affair smells like obstruction of justice. The Ethics Commissioner should also investigate if Justin Trudeau was one of the recipients of the illegal donations.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called The Globe's reporting about pressure exerted by the PMO on Ms. Wilson-Raybould "incredibly disturbing".

The list includes Lametti, the prime minister's chief of staff Katie Telford, and his principal secretary Gerald Butts.

Lametti: Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said earlier today, these allegations are false.

During the heady days of Justin Trudeau's "because it's 2015" declaration, Wilson-Raybould's ascension to the role of the nation's top justice official defined the moment.

Singh similarly argued that the prime minister should have nothing to fear from an independent investigation by the federal ethics commissioner.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation, " he said in a telephone interview from Burnaby, where he is campaigning for a seat in the House of Commons in a February 25 byelection.

The NDP have asked Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion to investigate this case.

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