Wilson-Raybould, out of cabinet, seeks place in Liberal caucus
- Shane Henry
Trudeau has faced repeated questions since the Globe and Mail published a story that former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by staff in the Prime Minister's Office to help SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal engineering giant, avoid a criminal case on corruption charges related to government contracts in Libya.
Wilson-Raybould abstained from the vote, explaining that she saw it as a conflict of interest, since it concerned herself. Wilson-Raybould will say her piece - and the Liberals appear to have already concluded they can live with that testimony.
"Privilege and confidentiality are not mine to waive and I hope that I have the opportunity to speak my truth".
Speaking to media on her way to the caucus meeting, Wilson-Raybould said she knows her continued deferral to solicitor-client privilege is "frustrating for many people", and that is why she is seeking legal advice, "to be able to ensure that I am confident in what I can and cannot say", when she appears before committee.
Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week and has sought legal advice from former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell amid questions over the SNC-Lavalin controversy. For the most part, Liberal MPs maintained it was a good meeting.
A Liberal MP said that when a parliamentary colleague from any side of the aisle is in trouble, he flips them a note of support.
Trudeau's comments come as the House is set to vote Wednesday afternoon on a motion that calls for the government to launch an independent public inquiry into the scandal that broke in the wake of a Globe and Mail report almost two weeks ago. Two Grit MPs, Ontario's Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and New Brunswick's Wayne Long voted in favour of the opposition motion. It was defeated on a vote of 160-134.
Wilson-Raybould would not comment on what was discussed during the meeting, and whether she addressed more than 170 of her colleagues, but Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that the "mood and the human feelings were just fine", inside the room. "I will appear", she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "They were absolutely unacceptable and I should have done it sooner".
The justice committee was to have begun hearings Wednesday but that was put off until Thursday due to the unavailability of the witnesses.
Wilson-Raybould has cited concerns over solicitor-client privilege in saying she can't speak further about the circumstances around her departure from cabinet.
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Here's the Commons' notice of today's House Justice Committee meeting being cancelled. However, the meeting is now cancelled for unknown reasons.
Angus called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out for voting against the motion and not abstaining like Wilson-Raybould.
"This is a file that touches tens of thousands of Canadians right across the country, including 9,000 direct jobs", he told the Commons.
Unless those two accounts are glaringly at odds, that may well be the end of the matter and we are all going to wonder whether it was worth paralyzing the government of Canada for much of the past month.
Wilson-Raybould strikes me as someone who would like to get things done and not much can be achieved when you're sitting so far from the action in the House of Commons, you're nearly in the translation box.
In his defence, Trudeau cited a news release issued by Roussel last week in response to suggestions of political interference in another case, involving Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. He says he told her he would not.
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus tabled the original motion.
"I'm very satisfied with the overall meeting we had", said International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. "Have an independent hearing that is not run by the hand-puppets of the Liberal members of the justice committee".
He said Parliament needs to get to the bottom of "the alarming possibility that the Prime Minister's Office exerted its power to influence the administration of justice" in Canada.
"There is a huge difference between promising to air out the dirty laundry and presenting a plan that is so full of holes that it allows Gerry Butts and the rest of the people involved to walk away without coming clean", he said.
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