Commons committee to weigh probe of SNC-Lavalin allegations

Jody Wilson-RaybouldAdrian Wyld  THE CANADIAN PRESS
Jody Wilson-RaybouldAdrian Wyld THE CANADIAN PRESS
Author

14 February, 2019

Reporting in the Globe and Mail suggests that her refusal to bend to pressure from the Prime Minister's Office and apply a new law to benefit SNC-Lavalin-the Montreal-based engineering company that is otherwise facing criminal prosecution stemming from a bribery case in Libya-was behind Trudeau's decision to demote her.

Canada's Conflict of Interest and Ethics commissioner has launched a probe into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's alleged illegal attempts to shield engineering giant SNC-Lavalin from criminal fraud and corruption charges.

Until, that is, Tuesday's release of her resignation letter, which was delivered "with a heavy heart" but included the acknowledgement many Canadians wish to hear her speak on "matters that have been in the media over the last week".

She said she was in the process of obtaining advice on what she she was legally permitted to discuss.

Shortly before her resignation announcement, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs issued an open letter to Trudeau demanding that he publicly condemn "the racist and sexist innuendo" that's circulated about Wilson-Raybould since her demotion, suggesting that she's hard to work with and not a team player.

Wilson-Raybould's letter does not say exactly why she's quitting.

Last month, Trudeau moved Wilson-Raybould out of the justice portfolio in a cabinet shuffle brought on by former minister Scott Brison's departure from politics, elevating David Lametti as her replacement.

Citing unnamed sources, the Globe and Mail has reported that officials in the prime minister's office transferred that pressure a year ago to then-attorney general Wilson-Raybould.

Monday, he said in Vancouver that he'd told Wilson-Raybould that any decision on the subject was hers alone.

The very charges that SNC-Lavalin face make it impossible for the director of the Public Prosecution Service to consider the too big to fail argument.

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Tuesday night support started to stream in on social media for Wilson Raybould, including from some of her Liberal colleagues.

Trudeau has said that he "welcomes" the probe, which is the fifth involving his cabinet since taking office in 2015.

Because if anyone, particularly the attorney general, felt that we were not doing our job fully, responsibly and according to all the rules, as a government, it was her responsibility to come forward to me this past fall and highlight that directly to me. Many were puzzled by the fact that the Prime Minister never clearly explained what she had done to deserve the demotion.

The resignation is the second blow for Trudeau in two days over the affair.

"MKO sees the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould as a significant step backwards in our longstanding efforts to advance reconciliation between the MKO Treaty Nations and Canada".

Federal byelections will be held on February 25 in three vacant ridings - Burnaby South, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is hoping to win a seat in the House of Commons, the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe and Montreal's Outremont.

Opposition MPs, including Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, have urged the Liberal-dominated committee to support the calls for a study.

Liberals, who hold the majority on the committee, appear to be open to conducting an investigation.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee offered a more pointed rebuke, equating the government's treatment of Wilson-Raybould to "character assassination".


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