OTTAWA — The ex-minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who is the heart of the storm SNC-Lavalin in which is entangled in the Trudeau government, was invited to testify to the committee which is examining allegations of political interference of the office of the prime minister.
“We would like to hear clearly, Ms. Wilson-Raybould. Its participation is very important,” said the liberal mla Randy Boissonnault at the end of a meeting which was held behind closed doors on Tuesday.
The elected has not indicated whether it would like the appearance to take place once the issue of the secrecy of lawyer-client will be set. “We did what was possible for the committee. We know that the prime minister has asked the attorney general to look at this issue,” he offered.
Because it is this that worries the opposition – in his role as attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould was the lawyer of the government, and taking into account the professional secrecy, it is limited in what she can say publicly.
“We want to have a discussion that goes further than “I can’t answer that, I can’t answer that, I am bound by the secret lawyer-client”,” argued the conservative member of parliament Lisa Raitt out of the room committee.
The new minister of Justice and attorney general, David Lametti, had indicated during question period that the prime minister had asked him for a legal opinion on the issue. “I give a legal opinion at the appropriate time”, did it deliver.
The curator Pierre Paul-Hus asked him to address something urgent : “Hurry! Find the answer to the most sacrant (…) One must have Ms. Wilson-Raybould to the committee in a position to talk”, he dropped out of the meeting of the committee.
The member of parliament for Vancouver-Granville told the CBC that she would accept the invitation of the committee. “I’ll be there”, she assured, noting that its interventions would be guided by the advice of the one that it has retained to this end – the ex-supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell.
Last week, the liberals of the committee had maneuvered to block the adoption of a motion by opposition mps, who demanded the attendance of nine people, including the ex-minister Wilson-Raybould, as well as that of other employees of Justin Trudeau.
They have thrown the reins on Tuesday. But they are not gone so far as to include in the list the close collaborators of Justin Trudeau, including his chief of staff Katie Telford, his counsel, Mathieu Bouchard, and his former principal secretary Gerald Butts, much to the chagrin of the opposition.
This new development in the case of SNC-Lavalin occurred a few hours after Ms. Wilson-Raybould had caused a surprise by emerging from the section of the building to the West where Justin Trudeau and his ministers meet on a weekly basis.
At its output, it has briefly addressed the media – something that she did that very rarely when she was a minister.
“I will consult with my legal counsel, what I think people understand, or should understand, on the rules and laws on privilege, on privacy, on my responsibility as a member of Parliament,” she said.
“My professional and ethical responsibilities as a lawyer are many and it’s incredibly complicated, so I’m still working with my lawyer,” added the ex-minister of Justice and attorney general, before diving into an elevator.
Once inside, she took the trouble to mention that she was still a member of the liberal caucus when he was asked.
Prime minister Trudeau has explained the amazing presence of his former minister – who has slammed the door to the cabinet last week in the wake of the case of SNC-Lavalin – in this meeting, which stretched on for about four hours.
“Ms. Wilson-Raybould was asked to come speak to the firm, and has been invited (to) come. But of course, what is discussed at the cabinet remains a secret of the firm”, he specified, before diving into the House of commons for question period.
In the benches of the conservative, it has devoted a good part of the session to accuse the liberals to muzzle the elected British Columbia, by portraying them as a victim in this whole story.
According to his friend and colleague mp columbian, Jonathan Wilkinson, nothing is more far from reality.
“I think that Jody would not arise never as a victim. This is someone who says what she thinks, and that is very comfortable to do so – and this is one of the things that we all love in it,” assured the minister of Fisheries in the media scrum.
The amazing appearance of the ex-minister has in any way had the effect of relegating to the background the other big story that agitates the hill : the sensational resignation of the principal secretary Justin Trudeau, the influential Gerald Butts.
In the morning, though it was this departure that was fuelling the discussions of the hallway. And the ministers prepared to deliver had only good words for Gerald Butts.
Several members of the cabinet have, however, preferred to go straight in front of the barrage of journalists at the door of the meeting of the council of ministers.
Justin Trudeau was part of the group who has kept the silence.
“Gerry is a friend. He has done a lot, a lot, for Canada, for our government,” insisted the minister of foreign Affairs, asked by chrystia Freeland.
“It is (…) especially grateful for the work that he has done,” added Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of Family, Children and social Development.
And as the question came up often – why he resigned if he did nothing? – the Finance minister has attempted a response. “He has decided that it is important to protect its reputation and in my opinion, this is a good decision,” said Bill Morneau.
The close advisor to Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that he was resigning from his duties by denying “categorically” have exerted pressure on the ex-minister of Justice so that it avoids a trial for fraud and corruption at SNC-Lavalin.
A few days ago, Jody Wilson-Raybould had slammed the door of the cabinet. She had been demoted to mid-January during a reshuffle, being moved to the position of minister of Veterans affairs.
Public inquiry demanded
During this time, in the House of commons, the opposition affûtait his knives.
The conservative Party, the New democratic Party and Bloc québécois came together to demand a public inquiry on the case of SNC-Lavalin, is at the origin of the resignation of the right arm of the prime minister.
As the new democrats were in control of the subject of the debate on Tuesday, they filed a motion asking Justin Trudeau to waive the privilege, and urging the government to launch a public inquiry into the case of SNC-Lavalin.
“Canadians deserve credible responses”, has launched the mp Charlie Angus at the opening of the debate.
Their approach will be supported by the conservatives, has confirmed the chief Andrew Scheer. The bloquistes also vote in favour of the motion should be put to the vote on Wednesday afternoon.
It remains to be seen what will be the deputies of the liberal Party, who have a majority in the Commons and can therefore easily block the adoption of the motion.
Moreover, in the ranks of liberals, it was extensively reported that the commissioner of conflict of interest and ethics, Mario Dion, who had already accepted to trigger an investigation.
The minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Philippe Champagne, was one of those people, ensuring that they all wanted to “shed light on the latest events”, but with reference to this examination by the ethics commissioner.
Senate: conservatives are active
In the Senate, where the work is to resume on Tuesday, senators conservatives have signalled that they also wanted to get involved.
The leader of the official opposition, the honourable senator Larry Smith, has filed Tuesday a notice of motion to allow a senate committee to investigate the case of SNC-Lavalin.
The motion should be debated on Wednesday or Thursday.