Liberals defeat opposition call for public inquiry into SNC-Lavalin affair

Gwen Vasquez
February 23, 2019

Liberals say they are concerned about how Trudeau's team is dealing with the fallout of a newspaper report that officials from his office put pressure on then justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould previous year to ensure construction firm SNC-Lavalin avoided a corruption and bribery trial.

This comes after Wilson-Raybould attended the national caucus meeting Wednesday morning alongside more than 170 of her Liberal MP peers, and after her request to speak to the federal cabinet on Tuesday was granted.

The Globe and Mail has reported that Wilson-Raybould, who was shuffled into the veterans-affairs portfolio in January, was pressured by staff inside the Prime Minister's Office to help the Montreal engineering giant avoid a criminal case on corruption charges related to government contracts in Libya.

Wilson-Raybould said that she would appear before the committee, but was unsure how much she could reveal, again, due to solicitor-client privileges.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale suggested that "anything is possible" when asked if there was a "path" for Wilson-Raybould to return to cabinet.

They spoke two weeks after the September 4th decision, at which time it was up to Wilson-Raybould to decide if she would publicly instruct prosecutors to instead cut a deal.

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

In her first comments in the chamber since the SNC-Lavalin scandal erupted, the MP rose to explain why she did not vote on a motion introduced by NDP MP Charlie Angus that called on the government to launch a public inquiry into the brewing controversy. "I will appear", she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

As part of these examinations, Trudeau said he welcomes Wilson Raybould testifying before the House Justice Committee.

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"I want to be able to ensure that I am confident in what I can and can't say".

The committee will also hear from Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, current Justice Minister David Lametti, and deputy justice minister Nathalie Drouin, along with a number of academics who can discuss the legal principles underpinning the allegations.

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

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.

Jody Wilson-Raybould wants to speak her truth, the question is whether Justin Trudeau will let her.

When Wilson-Raybould was asked if she was put under pressure by the PMO, she said that she was still consulting with her lawyer.

Justice committee member and Liberal MP Iqra Khalid makes her way to a committee meeting in Ottawa, Tuesday February 19, 2019. "Have an independent hearing that is not run by the hand-puppets of the Liberal members of the justice committee".

Facing questions over how this entire affair impacts two of the key tenets of his government - reconciliation with Indigenous people and leading a feminist government - Trudeau said last week that the government's commitment to reconciliation was "larger than any one person".

"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.

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