OTTAWA – Jody Wilson-Raybould will give “his truth” on Wednesday after-noon, in front of the justice Committee of the Commons.
The prime minister Justin Trudeau has renounced by decree, on Monday evening, to the privilege of communications between solicitor and client and of the secret ministerial order to allow the ex-minister of Justice to tell his version of the case of SNC-Lavalin in front of the standing Committee on justice and human rights.
At a meeting Tuesday morning, the committee asked Ms. Wilson-Raybould to appear in court at 15: 15 on Wednesday. As she had requested, she can also make a declaration prior to 30 minutes before answering questions from his fellow members. Ms. Wilson-Raybould has confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that she would be present at this meeting.
In a letter sent Monday to the committee, she stated that she was “impatient” to appear, but that she was waiting for a complete clarification of what she could say and not say. This clarification now seems to be obtained since an order-in-council published on Monday evening lifted the veil of secrecy on all of his conversations 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,” says the decree.
Mr. Trudeau said Tuesday morning that he was anxious to hear the testimony of his former minister of Justice. “It is important that people have the opportunity to witness or share their point of view with the committee”,-he said in arriving at the weekly meeting of the cabinet in Ottawa. “As we have said, waive the privilege and cabinet secrecy is a thing that we need to take very seriously, but I’m glad 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 Ms. Wilson-Raybould to negotiate a repair agreement with SNC-Lavalin, rather than pursuing the criminal, the giant quebec engineering for corruption and fraud.
Attorney Kathleen Roussel had decided in September not to allow SNC-Lavalin to take advantage of an amendment to the criminal Code now provides for such agreements to repair, but as attorney general, Ms. Wilson-Raybould would have been able to reverse this decision.
Bribes in Libya
These agreements further suspended,” allow companies to avoid the court if they acknowledge having committed wrongdoing: they pay a fine and compensation, and must adopt measures to prevent such misconduct. The repair agreement is intended to protect negative consequences for the employees and customers, innocent of a company if it was found guilty of an economic crime. If SNC-Lavalin was convicted, it could thus be prevented for a dozen years to bid for government contracts.
Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Wilson-Raybould were waiting for a legal opinion on the scope of the privilege to communications between solicitor and client. Ms. Wilson-Raybould was engaged to advise the former judge of the supreme Court, Thomas Cromwell. The minister of Justice, David Lametti, who advised Mr. Trudeau on these issues, said that her office had had contact with the lawyers of Ms. Wilson-Raybould, but it does not give any detail about those 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,” said the successor of Ms. Wilson-Raybould to Justice.
The fact of silencing the private conversations with Me Roussel protects any information likely to affect the criminal proceedings pending against SNC-Lavalin, who would have paid bribes to libyan officials to get contracts in this country, at the time of Muammar Gaddafi. SNC-Lavalin has also asked the court to reconsider the denial of Me Roussel to enter into a repair agreement.
Under the “doctrine Shawcross”, a rule that parliamentary little known, the attorney general may receive from his colleagues in the cabinet of information to help make a decision about a lawsuit. But it may not be to dictate his conduct, not more than she can ask his colleagues what to do.
The question is whether Mr. Trudeau and other members of his office, in the course of many conversations, have brought pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould, last fall. Mr. Trudeau maintains that he had always been very clear on the fact that the final decision to continue to SNC-Lavalin belonged only to Ms. Wilson-Raybould and alone.
In mid-January, Ms. 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 allegations in the newspaper “Globe and Mail”.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould is still part of the liberal caucus and announced his intention to run again in the October elections.