Trudeau looking forward to Wilson-Raybould testimony on SNC-Lavalin controversy

Trudeau looking forward to Wilson-Raybould testimony on SNC-Lavalin controversy

Trudeau looking forward to Wilson-Raybould testimony on SNC-Lavalin controversy

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, rejecting an opposition call for his resignation, disputed allegations on Wednesday by his former justice minister that government officials inappropriately pressured her to help a major company avoid a corruption trial.

After weeks of high-stakes drama, Jody Wilson-Raybould will testify before the House justice committee Wednesday about allegations the Prime Minister's Office pressured her to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case during her tenure as attorney general.

The order also waives "solicitor-client privilege and any other relevant duty of confidentiality to the Government of Canada" with respect to Wilson-Raybould's discussions with government officials "respecting the prosecution" of SNC-Lavalin while she was justice minister.

Wilson-Raybould wrote to Justice Committee chair Anthony Housefather on Monday requesting not to appear until as numerous "possible constraints" were removed.

But she warned Tuesday that her hotly anticipated testimony won't tell the whole the story because, she said, an unprecedented order-in-council waiving solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality doesn't cover everything.

The waiver given to Wilson-Raybould to speak about her time as attorney general also applies to others in government with whom she spoke about the SNC-Lavalin prosecution. The protections have been lifted on all of Wilson-Raybould's conversations except ones had with the director of public prosecutions. She had been demoted from justice minister last month, and was furious, releasing a 2,000-word statement after that.

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Given what he heard then and subsequent assurances from the country's top public servant that there was no undue pressure, Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said he's not expecting anything surprising or dramatic.

During question period, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer suggested something was said to Wilson-Raybould during that period "that proved she lost her job because she stood up to" Trudeau on SNC-Lavalin. "And that is why I am calling on Mr. Trudeau to do the right thing and to resign".

Wilson-Raybould detailed instances of what she considered inappropriate pressure by Finance Minister Bill Morneau's chief of staff and others but said the pressure campaign escalated over the fall, even after SNC-Lavalin went to court to challenge Roussel's rejection of a remediation agreement.

Instead, Wilson-Raybould was allegedly pushed to pursue a remediation agreement that would avoid charges and the prospect of the company being ineligible for government contracts for a decade.

But she now says she needs those restrictions waived not just for the time when she was attorney general, but also for anything that was said or done after she was shuffled on January 14 to the veterans-affairs post - including her eventual resignation from cabinet a month later and her presentation to cabinet last week about her reasons for resigning.

She disputed that version of events, saying Trudeau only offered some vague assurance after she confronted him directly at the September 17 meeting, two weeks after Roussel had decided not to consider a remediation agreement.

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Wilson-Raybould hasn't yet confirmed the time.

Wilson-Raybould is also likely to provide her version of a December 5 dinner with Butts, who resigned last week.

The Liberals don't appear ready to support the Conservative motion to call Trudeau to testify.

Some of her former cabinet colleagues seemed relieved Tuesday that whatever complaint Wilson-Raybould may have about the way the SNC-Lavalin matter was handled, it will finally be out in the open after weeks of shadow boxing with anonymous sources.

Trudeau has insisted he was always clear that the decision whether to prosecute was hers and hers alone.

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