Marathon voting session on Parliament Hill ends after 30 hours

Clay Curtis
March 25, 2019

Both Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott have indicated they have more to say about the SNC-Lavalin controversy.

Trudeau denied there was more to learn from ongoing hearings, or allowing the justice committee to recall former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Philpott has given an interview to Maclean's magazine that landed like a bombshell Thursday morning on Parliament Hill.

"I believe we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth".

Her new public statements are already fanning the flames of a scandal the government is desperate to douse, and which the Opposition Conservatives are doing their best to keep alive.

The prime minister waived some solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidence to allow Wilson-Raybould to testify about the SNC-Lavalin matter, but not about her brief time as veterans affairs minister.

Since any vote involving government spending is automatically considered a confidence vote, Liberals were required to be out in force to avoid potential defeat of the government.

Yet all through the two-day session, the Conservatives offered a way out to the Liberals: let Wilson-Raybould appear before committee again and let her speak freely.

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Nevertheless, Trudeau continued to say that Philpott and Wilson-Raybould are welcome to remain in the Liberal caucus, despite their criticisms of him just seven months before an election. Wilson-Raybould has said she will not discuss those events unless she gets a further waiver of privilege from Trudeau.

When she testified in person, Wilson-Raybould said she'd suffered a months-long campaign, pushed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office, to get her to order a "deferred prosecution agreement" be offered to SNC-Lavalin over its allegedly corrupt dealings in Libya. That covered the alleged pressure she came under last fall, up to January 14 when she was moved out of her dual role as justice minister and attorney general. "Why would I have felt that there was a reason why Minister Wilson-Raybould should not be shuffled?" she said.

"It was extremely important that the former attorney general be allowed to share completely her perspectives, her experiences on this issue, and that is what she was able to do", he said.

Political wrangling over claims that PMO officials and others in government inappropriately pressured the former attorney general to override a decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges overshadowed the Liberal budget this week.

In her interview with Macleans this week, Philpott said Canadians deserve to know the whole story and that she resigned from cabinet believing the independence of the justice system was at stake.

Wilson-Raybould testified at the committee on February 27, after the Globe and Mail reported allegations that while attorney general she had been inappropriately pressured to intervene in the criminal prosecution of Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Last week, upset with the government's handling of the SNC Lavalin affair, the Tories put forward 257 separate motions to oppose specific proposed funding allotments in the supplementary and interim estimates, two pieces of legislation being debated in the House of Commons now.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said today that if Wilson-Raybould has more to say, she must do it now so the government can get back to focusing on priorities like fighting climate change, combating racism and ending US steel tariffs.

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