A majority of Canadians believe a deeper scandal within the prime minister's office will emerge as more details about its contact with former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin (SNC.TO) file come to light, according to a new poll.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wilson-Raybould's testimony underscored his party's calls for an independent inquiry to find out the truth of what happened between the former attorney general and members of Trudeau's inner circle.
"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". However, in a letter to the committee confirming her appearance, Wilson-Raybould cautioned that she might not be able to fully speak to everything they want to hear from her on.
"I was sickened and appalled by [Wilson-Raybould's] story of inappropriate and frankly, borderline illegal pressure brought to bear on her by the highest levels of Justin Trudeau's government", Scheer said. During that meeting, held two weeks after the director of public prosecutions had ruled out a remediation agreement for SNC-Lavalin, Wernick said Wilson-Raybould informed the prime minister that she had "no intention of intervening" in the matter, although as attorney general she was legally entitled to give direction to the public prosecutor.
Starting at 3:45 p.m. ET she will present a 30-minute opening statement during which she has told the committee she will offer her recounting of all relevant communications and meetings she was involved in.
Former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould walks to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. "And that is why I am calling on Mr. Trudeau to do the right thing and to resign".
Trudeau's government has been on the defensive since the Globe and Mail newspaper reported February 7 that Trudeau or his staff pressured Wilson-Raybould a year ago to try to avoid a criminal prosecution of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin over allegations of corruption involving government contracts in Libya. The newspaper indicated Wilson-Raybould resisted before she was shuffled to Veterans Affairs.
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Scheer nonetheless demanded Trudeau's resignation and called for the RCMP to launch a criminal investigation into what the Liberal government did to help SNC-Lavalin, which is facing criminal charges related to allegedly corrupt dealings in Libya.
- A December 18 meeting of Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, and principal secretary, Gerald Butts, with Wilson-Raybould's chief of staff, Jessica Prince.
Trudeau, who has denied any wrongdoing, said Tuesday that he's looking forward to the former minister's testimony.
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.
"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", Wilson-Raybould wrote. Butts has confirmed Wilson-Raybould raised the SNC-Lavalin matter briefly and he advised her to speak to Wernick.
Trudeau has insisted he was always clear that the decision whether to prosecute was hers and hers alone.
Citing her chief of staff's account of the exchange, Wilson-Raybould quoted Butts as saying: "There is no solution here that does not involve some interference". Butts has insisted that at no time did he apply improper pressure on the former minister.