Science

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

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

The Liberals have defeated an opposition motion calling for a public inquiry into allegations that the Prime Minister's Office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

In January, Wilson-Raybould was shuffled into the veterans-affairs portfolio in January but resigned last week, hours after Trudeau suggested her continued presence in cabinet indicated nothing untoward had happened involving SNC-Lavalin.

On Friday, Mr. Trudeau again claimed that Wilson-Raybould was told on September 17th that the SNC-Lavalin prosecution was hers alone to make, using the exchange as a type of evidence that he did not put pressure on her to allow the engineering giant to avoid prosecution.

In her first remarks in the Commons chamber since the scandal erupted, she appeared to take aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying the decision to waive solicitor-client privilege is not a decision for her to make.

Two people that didn't speak: Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould walked by reporters after the meeting without answering questions.

Lawmakers with the governing Liberal Party blocked an effort last week to summon Wilson-Raybould to testify before the justice committee. Then Gerald Butts, having resigned from the PMO, will be free to defend his reputation.

"I am still consulting with my legal counsel as I think people can appreciate, or should appreciate, the rules and laws around privilege, around confidentiality, around my responsibility as a member of Parliament", she said as she exited the meeting.

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

The House of Commons justice committee had also been set to hear from its first witness in a limited probe of the affair later in the afternoon. Opposition parties maintain she was demoted because she wouldn't instruct the director of public prosecutions to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, rather than pursue a criminal conviction that could see the company barred from bidding on public contracts for 10 years.

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.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian PressLiberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould arrives to a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 20, 2019. "That, too, would apply at the justice committee". She has hired a former Supreme Court justice to advise her on what she may legally say.

These comments came as she rose to formally register that she would be abstaining from two votes on an NDP motion that called for the government to launch an independent public inquiry into the scandal that broke almost two weeks ago.

The Liberals have faced considerable backlash from Indigenous leaders and women in Canada over the way Trudeau and those with ties to the Liberal Party were speaking about Wilson-Raybould in the days after the scandal broke and how her shuffling out of the justice minister role was handled, with some calling it "gendered".

Unless those two accounts are glaringly at odds, that may well be the end of the matter and we are all going to wonder whether it was worth paralyzing the government of Canada for much of the past month.

"Who asked for the meeting was it the prime minister or the former attorney general?"



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