OTTAWA — Jody Wilson-Raybould advised that she will not be able to speak freely of the record of SNC-Lavalin when it will deliver, finally, “his truth”, before the standing committee on justice and human rights, on Wednesday.
In a letter sent to the committee Tuesday, the former minister of Justice argued that the decree issued by the prime minister, in which he renounces the secrecy of lawyer-client secrecy and ministerial, is not sufficient to give all the information, since it relates exclusively to his term as attorney general.
It will not enable him to speak on her communications when she was minister of Veterans affairs and the information concerning her resignation, she wrote.
A source of the liberal was surprised by this output, meaning that “the decree allows the answer to the basic question, which is at the heart of the issue, while Ms. Wilson-Raybould was attorney general”.
This same source has also said “doubt of the real intentions” of the ex-minister.
The former minister has agreed to testify before the committee to comment on the allegations of a report in the Globe and Mail published at the beginning of the month, according to which she would have been subjected to improper pressures to help SNC-Lavalin when she was minister of Justice and attorney general.
The hearing committee shall commence at 15: 15 with an opening statement three times longer than usual.
“She was asked 30 minutes, so the committee has decided to grant him the 30 minutes,” explained Tuesday, Anthony Housefather, chairman of the committee.
“I think Canadians want to hear what Ms. Wilson-Raybould has to say, and I am pleased that our committee has the chance to listen to it tomorrow,” he added in a media scrum in the foyer of the House after question period.
The former colleagues of the cabinet of the ex-minister and attorney general seemed to share the same feeling, although they have mostly been very cautious in the answers they provided to the journalists coming out of their weekly meeting.
“I look forward to Ms. Wilson-Raybould to appear at the committee, and then we will wait for the good work they are doing. (…) She said that she wanted to have the chance to tell his version, his facts, and I think this is a good forum,” said the minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
“If I look forward? She come and say what she has to say, I think it is important. It has created conditions for it to come express themselves freely”, for his part, expressed the minister Pablo Rodriguez.
We feel however that some liberals were especially looking forward to turning the page on this story that torments the government since the last February 7.
The minister of Relations Crown-Aboriginal, Carolyn Bennett, was one of those: “It’s just important that she speaks and that all this mystery dissipates – it is important for us to continue our work,” she argued.
And the fact that the testimony occurred shortly before the elect fall break parliamentary for two weeks represents “a good thing”, has she dropped in the media scrum, just before Jody Wilson-Raybould is no officially accepted to go to committee.
Ndp mp Nathan Cullen believes the opposite.
“We’re going to finally hear it without the gag of the secret attorney-client, but it is a testimony after the question period, and this will be the last question time of the prime minister (Mr. Trudeau’s answers to all questions Wednesday) before three weeks”, he regretted.
The main party, she has once again spent the period of questions sitting in the front row to listen to the opposition and slam the liberals of questions about it – sometimes by strumming on his phone, sometimes taking notes in a notebook.
Decree on the secret
The government published on Monday a decree of lifting the veil of secrecy on the conversations of Ms. Wilson-Raybould about SNC-Lavalin, except the ones she has had with the directorate of public prosecutions, to “preserve the integrity of any civil or criminal proceedings”.
The conservative mp Gérard Deltell did not want to say whether this gesture could be interpreted as suggesting that the prime minister and his bodyguard were confident of not having anything to apologize for and that they are not afraid to hear the version of the facts of Ms. Wilson-Raybould.
“We’re going to let things go, did it deliver. We are going to see the witness tomorrow. However, we, what we still wonder, is whether this topic was discussed at the cabinet. (…) Canadians want answers.”
Bloc quebecois mp Rhéal Fortin asked about him why he had to wait so long before the prime minister obtain the answers on the consequences of a waiver of the privilege.
“My God, he negotiated for three weeks with it? (…) Any lawyer will you do that in an afternoon, and more often than not inside of half an hour”, he launched into a media scrum.
On his arrival at the weekly meeting of the cabinet, Justin Trudeau has specified that “waive the privilege and cabinet secrecy is a thing that we need to take very seriously”, but that it was “pleased that Ms. Wilson-Raybould to be able to share his point of view”.
Nearly three weeks have passed since the anonymous allegations according to which the office of the prime minister would put pressure on the attorney general to negotiate a repair agreement with SNC-Lavalin, and thus prevent, to the firm in quebec a criminal trial.
The director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, decided last September not to allow the company to take advantage of this mechanism now falls under the criminal Code, but as attorney general, Ms. Wilson-Raybould would have been able to reverse this decision.
The minister of Justice, David Lametti, who advised Justin Trudeau on these issues, said that her office had had contact with the lawyers of Ms. Wilson-Raybould, but he would disclose no details of these conversations.
“What we were doing, it is to establish a fair process and open which allows for transparency, while protecting the very principles that we want to protect in the legal system, without interfering with the ongoing proceedings”, a-t-he statement on Tuesday.
The fact of silencing the private conversations with Me Roussel protects any information likely to affect the pending prosecution against SNC-Lavalin, who would have paid bribes to libyan officials to get contracts in this country at the time of Muammar Gaddafi.
Under the “doctrine Shawcross,” the attorney general may receive from his colleagues in the cabinet of information to help make a decision about a prosecution, but it may not be to dictate his conduct, not more than she can ask his colleagues what to do.
So the question is whether Justin Trudeau and other members of his office have been putting pressure on their attorney general of the time. The prime minister maintains that it has always been clear on the fact that the final decision to continue to SNC-Lavalin belonged to him.
In mid-January, Jody Wilson-Raybould has lost his wallet to the Justice to move for Veterans, a change generally regarded as a demotion. She resigned from the cabinet a few days after the publication of the article in the Globe and Mail.