Wilson-Raybould complains she won’t be able to tell full SNC-Lavalin story

Former federal justice minister set to testify at justice committee on Wednesday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Jody Wilson-Raybould is warning that she won’t be able to speak freely about everything concerning the SNC-Lavalin affair when she finally gives her side of the story Wednesday, breaking almost three weeks of silence that has fuelled the anonymously-sourced controversy and shaken the Trudeau government to its core.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an order-in-council Monday that waived the solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality provisions that Wilson-Raybould has repeatedly cited to refuse comment on the controversy.

READ MORE: Trudeau partially waives solicitor-client privilege for Wilson-Raybould

But in a letter Tuesday to the House of Commons justice committee, Wilson-Raybould said the waiver covers only her time as justice minister and attorney general. It does not release her to talk about any communications she had after she was moved to the veterans affairs post in early January, her subsequent resignation from cabinet or the presentation she was allowed to give to cabinet last week after resigning a week earlier, she wrote.

“I mention this simply to alert the committee to the fact that the order-in-council leaves in place whatever restraints there are on my ability to speak freely about matters that occurred after I left the post of attorney general,” she wrote.

Nevertheless, Wilson-Raybould accepted the committee’s invitation to testify Wednesday afternoon about allegations the Prime Minister’s Office improperly pressured her last fall to drop a criminal prosecution against Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Since the allegation involves inappropriate pressure on her as attorney general, it was not clear why she would need to discuss anything that was said or done after she left the job. In response to Wilson-Raybould’s letter, committee members wrote back saying they believe the waiver is sufficient for the former minister to testify fully.

However, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said it’s clear from Wilson-Raybould’s letter that “she has more to say and the prime minister isn’t letting her say it.”

“Justin Trudeau is trying to trick Canadians into believing that he is letting Ms. Wilson-Raybould speak freely. In reality, however, he is still hiding information he doesn’t want Canadians to know,” Scheer said in a statement.

Trudeau, who has denied any wrongdoing, said Tuesday that he’s looking forward to the former minister’s testimony.

“It is important that people get an opportunity to testify or share their point of view with the committee,” he said.

“As we said, waiving privilege, waiving cabinet confidentiality is something that we had to take very seriously, but I’m pleased that Ms. Wilson-Raybould is going to be able to share her perspective.”

It has been nearly three weeks since the allegation first surfaced that Trudeau’s office pressured Wilson-Raybould last fall to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, rather than pursue a criminal prosecution for corruption and bribery related to government contracts in Libya. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the prestigious justice portfolio to veterans affairs in early January, which some allege was punishment for her refusal to drop the criminal proceedings.

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet several days after the Globe and Mail first reported the allegation. Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigned a week later, but insisted neither he nor anyone else in the PMO had unduly pressured Wilson-Raybould.

Joan Bryden and Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Reflections: The early construction of then Ponoka mental hospital

Looking at the early development of then provincial mental hospital in Ponoka

Wolf Creek Schools superintendent receives contract extension

Jayson Lovell will continue to serve as superintendent through 2024

Ponoka fire crews deal with trailer fire on the QEII

There wasn’t much left of a 53 foot trailer after it went up in flames near Ponoka

Suspects from Ponoka charged in pawn shop theft

Ponoka RCMP say the two face several charges from Stampede Pawn incident

Ponoka provides update on recent water main breaks

Some roads continue to be closed to traffic as repairs to be completed

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Notley’s government puts priority on health care in throne speech

Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell kicked off the legislature session

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Ponoka RCMP on lookout for stolen pickup

The black 2011 Ford F350 King Ranch pickup was stolen from a rural residence

B.C. argues it cannot stop Trans Mountain, but it can protect environment

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says only Ottawa has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick retires in wake of SNC-Lavalin case

Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Wernick of pressuring her to head off criminal charges for the firm

Most Read