Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould arrives at a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

‘A line … was crossed’ in SNC-Lavalin affair, says New Democrat MP

Jody Wilson-Raybould is widely expected to testify as early as Tuesday

Canadians could hear this week from Jody Wilson-Raybould about whether the former attorney general believes she faced inappropriate pressure from the prime minister’s office to halt a criminal prosecution of Quebec-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould is widely expected to testify as early as Tuesday at a Commons committee that is looking into the allegations, although the Vancouver Liberal MP has not said definitively when she might appear.

The opposition Conservatives will also put pressure on the prime minister himself to testify at the Commons justice committee.

The Tories plan to introduce a motion Monday calling on Justin Trudeau to take questions from the committee for two hours no later than March 15.

The motion calls on the House of Commons to “order the prime minister to appear, testify and answer questions” under oath about his involvement in what the Conservatives say was a sustained effort to influence SNC-Lavalin’s criminal prosecution.

The Prime Minister’s Office would not say Sunday whether Trudeau would be willing to appear, but said it respects the independence of the justice committee and will cooperate with the federal ethics commissioner’s investigation of the matter.

Members of Parliament, including the prime minister, cannot be forced to appear before committees.

As well, motions in the House of Commons are not binding and the committee itself would still have to decide whether to invite Trudeau.

Both the Conservatives and New Democrats say testimony so far at the committee makes clear to them that the PMO went too far in pressuring Wilson-Raybould to pursue SNC-Lavalin through a remediation agreement, rather than criminal prosecution, for fraud and bribery related to the firm’s work in Libya.

“There’s clearly a line that was crossed,” NDP justice critic Murray Rankin told CTV’s Question Period as he recalled testimony Thursday from Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick about his discussions with Wilson-Raybould.

Wernick told the committee that Trudeau was worried a prosecution might result in SNC-Lavalin cutting Canadian jobs.

But he stressed that Wilson-Raybould, who resigned from cabinet Feb. 12, was never unduly pressured.

Rather, Wernick told the committee he provided the then-solicitor general with the “context” that a lot of people were worried about the consequences to jobs, communities and suppliers should SNC-Lavalin face criminal proceedings.

But the decision to go ahead with prosecution had already been made months prior to Wernick’s discussion about the matter with Wilson-Raybould, Rankin noted.

“No means no. Why are they continuing to brow-beat her?”

Liberal MP Marco Mendicino said Wernick, who has been a public servant for decades under both Liberal and Conservative governments, had a responsibility to bring new information to the attention of the attorney general that may impact innocent third parties, such as the employees of large corporations.

A conviction of SNC-Lavalin could result in the company being barred from bidding on Canadian government business.

Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt noted SNC-Lavalin was told Sept. 4 that it would face criminal prosecution.

“On Sept. 17, Jody Wilson-Raybould told the prime minister and the clerk of the Privy Council in no uncertain terms she wasn’t going to overrule her deputy on the matter,” Raitt told CTV.

“That’s where it should end. It should not go on from there.”

READ MORE: ‘Airing’ needed on SNC-Lavalin affair, says Trudeau

READ MORE: Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

International Trade Minister Jim Carr, speaking on behalf of the Liberal government, told Global TV’s The West Block there was “no direction” given by Trudeau or his office on how the attorney general’s office should proceed in pursuing SNC-Lavalin.

“We have conversations all the time in cabinet, in one-on-one meetings with my colleagues, in small groups with the prime minister himself, with officials,” said Carr.

“To govern is to have these conversations about issues, which are sometimes controversial, and that’s why Canadians elect us to work through the complexities of these issues and to be accountable for what we do.”

Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the justice portfolio in January when she was named veterans affairs minister and soon afterward resigned from cabinet, though she remains in the Liberal caucus. She has so far invoked client-solicitor privilege to avoid answering any questions.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Woman sent to hospital after motorcycle accident in Mission

RCMP are investigating an accident between a motorcycle and a van on Hurd Street.

Spratt Road residents want CLBC house shut down after ‘terrifying’ incident

Mission RCMP had to be called after resident left house, damaged neighbour’s property

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Abbotsford man guilty of pilfering $36,000 from Mission gun shop

Former employee Tyson Gamberg processed 172 fraudulent refunds

Jewelry thieves use distraction tactics to target seniors in Abbotsford

Two incidents reported are among similar thefts across Lower Mainland

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

5 to start your day

Trudeau boosts Tamara Taggart, a doctor accessed records of a woman pregnant with his baby, and more

VIDEO: Dramatic fire destroys Surrey home

A freelancer at the scene said occupants made it out of the Fraser Heights house safely

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

New Coast Guard ship crashes into breakwater in Victoria

‘It is fairly unprecedented that it would happen’

Sparks fly as SUV speeds wrong way down Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Most Read