Liberal MPs shut down SNC committee before vote on recalling Wilson-Raybould

Elias Hubbard
March 14, 2019

Opposition MPs erupted in fury Wednesday after the Liberals used their majority on the House of Commons justice committee to delay an opposition attempt to call Jody Wilson-Raybould to testify again on the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Wilson-Raybould appeared February 27 for about four hours, but after Trudeau's former principal secretary Gerald Butts testified a week later, opposition MPs say they have new questions for the ex-justice minister.

The director of public prosecutions opted last fall not to negotiate a remediation agreement with the Quebec-based engineering giant, which would have put off a criminal trial in exchange for the company admitting wrongdoing, paying fines and allowing itself to be monitored for a period of time.

Justice Committee Chair Anthony Housefather waits to start a committee meeting in Ottawa, Wednesday March 13, 2019.

Shortly after the meeting convened, the Liberal committee members abruptly voted to adjourn, with Conservatives and New Democrats shouting out epithets like "Cover-up!" and "Despicable!" "So far the prime minister has kept in place a partial gag order preventing them from finding out", he said.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said his party would meet privately to discuss what their next course of action is to continue pressuring the government over the controversy. She testified the first time on February 27, in a four-hour session where she laid out her case that the Prime Minister's Office had put sustained pressure on her over four months last autumn to change her mind on diverting a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

"But after he removed her ... she witnessed events that were so egregious she considered it warranted her resignation from cabinet altogether", said Poilievre.

Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the Justice portfolio into Veterans Affairs on January 14th, and was replaced by Québec MP, David Lametti.

On 6 March, Trudeau's former adviser, Gerald Butts, testifiedhe had never acted in an improper manner and suggested the dispute was a misunderstanding.

Following his testimony, Wilson-Raybould said in a statement that her previous testimony "was not a complete account but only a detailed summary" and expressed her readiness to provide a fuller recollection of events.

Trudeau also needs to extend the confidentiality waiver he issued to allow Wilson-Raybould to talk about matters that normally would be protected by cabinet confidences or solicitor-client privilege, Ramsey added.

"What are you guys afraid of?" shouted Conservative MP and committee member Michael Barrett, who referenced Justin Trudeau's recent 4200km roundtrip between the capital and Florida where he is now vacationing.

But Poilievre said Trudeau doesn't want Canadians to know what that is.

"What they've said is they're going to go in a secret meeting next Tuesday where they can shut it down and distract from the scandal with the budget".

"We've heard the prime minister speak very freely about a period of time that Ms. Wilson-Raybould has not been able to speak about", Ramsey said.

New Democrat MP Tracey Ramsey said Trudeau himself has benefited from a double standard. "Today, (Liberals) signalled to Canadians that they aren't interested in the truth".

That two-part Justice Committee confab ended with the scheduling of an in-camera session on March 19 to discuss the possibility of additional witnesses, including Wilson-Raybould.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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