PM apologizes for not condemning 'unacceptable' personal attacks against Wilson-Raybould

Katie Ramirez
February 23, 2019

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who served as attorney general until being demoted to veterans affairs minister at the beginning of the year, quit cabinet last week amid questions about whether the Canadian prime minister's office had pressured her to help end a legal case against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.

Opposition MPs are livid that no one from Justin Trudeau's office has been called to answer for their alleged roles in the affair.

Up until now, information available to the public indicated that Trudeau spoke to Wilson-Raybould before a decision was made by the prosecutors, announced by SNC-Lavalin on October 10th.

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

Wilson-Raybould said Wednesday in between the votes that she didn't think it was appropriate for her to vote on the motion because she was directly implicated in the proposal.

Nevertheless, Butts says the allegation is distracting from the "vital work" Trudeau is doing so it's in the best interests of the Prime Minister's Office for him to step aside.

On Sept. 5, Wilson-Raybould met with the PM's former right hand man Gerry Butts at Ottawa's historic Chateau Laurier hotel.

"I want to be able to ensure that I am confident in what I can and can't say". The House Justice Committee has agreed to hear her testimony, something Trudeau said Wednesday that he welcomes.

On Monday, Trudeau's principal secretary and longtime political adviser Gerald Butts resigned from his position while repeating that he did not pressure Wilson-Raybould.

"We had a good discussion", he said, in French.

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

"The way in which this story has unfolded - with nearly daily changes to the Prime Minister's version of events, with high-profile resignations, with anonymously sourced smear campaigns, and with co-ordinated cover-up manoeuvring - suggests this is not an ordinary political scandal", Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said in the Commons.

"Quite frankly, we are getting advice from the current Attorney General and she's getting advice from her counsel on what can be talked about that's not covered by privilege".

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.

Wilson-Raybould would not comment on what was discussed during the meeting, and whether she addressed more than 170 of her colleagues, but Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that the "mood and the human feelings were just fine", inside the room.

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. "I apologized to Jody Wilson-Raybould because I wasn't quick enough to condemn in unequivocal terms the comments and commentary and cartoons made about her last week".

Coming out of caucus Wednesday, Liberals tried to show a common front.

MPs are also scheduled to vote today on a non-binding NDP motion calling for a public inquiry into the affair and the waiving of solicitor-client privilege.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Canada can not claim to be a country based on the rule of law if the Prime Minister's Office is dictating the course of justice.

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