Wilson-Raybould says she was pushed, got veiled threats on SNC-Lavalin

Former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson Raybould walks to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 26 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Sean Kilpatrick

It was not clear to me, anyway, that Wilson-Raybould would have anything besides colour to add to the basic sequence of known events.

Wilson-Raybould remains a member of Trudeau's Liberal party in Parliament. A "remediation agreement", a sort of plea bargain, would have headed off a trial and removed the possibility SNC-Lavalin would be banned from federal business in Canada.

Jody Wilson-Raybould said she face political interference and "veiled threats" over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

"Justin Trudeau can not continue to govern this country now that Canadians know what he's done", Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters after Wilson-Raybould's testimony.

The stunning testimony of Jody Wilson-Raybould on Wednesday demands nothing less than a full investigation of Trudeau and his senior staff for obstruction of justice.

SNC-Lavalin was seeking a so-called deferred prosecution agreement to allow the firm to escape with a fine.

Ms. Raitt also asked if it was fair to make the assumption that the comments and continued pressure made Ms. Wilson-Raybould fear for her job.

Asked if she has confidence in Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould paused for some time and did not say yes.

The former minister was testifying about a newspaper report that she was leaned on by senior officials past year to help SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a corruption trial. She told the committee if a directive to proceed to a deferred prosecution had been made while she was the veterans-affairs minister, she would have resigned from cabinet immediately.

"My response, and I remember this vividly, was to ask the PM a direct question while looking him in the eye".

The importuning from the PMO grew so intense, Wilson-Raybould says, that in December she started to think that a replay of Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" (a firing of the US attorney general) might be in the offing. "I will do that before making any further decisions", he said.

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According to her testimony, Wernick was present at a meeting that she expected would be a one-on-one with Trudeau.

The Conservative leader also called for Wernick to resign and encouraged the Liberal cabinet, which is scheduled to present a federal budget next month, to find a way to govern the country in a non-partisan way without the prime minister.

She said she was told repeatedly the decision was up to her, but attempts to talk her into a remediation agreement were relentless.

"Therefore, I completely disagree with the characterization of the former attorney general about these events".

SNC-Lavalin is facing charges of corruption and fraud in connection with work it sought in Libya.

Her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, was eventually summoned to an urgent December 18 meeting with Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, and his then principal secretary, Butts.

When Prince suggested that would be interference, Butts purportedly said, "Jess, there is no solution here that does not involve some interference". "That is a fundamental role of a Canadian prime minister", Trudeau said. To a person they told Wilson-Raybould they believed her.

For the former minister, she said the entire saga began in September when PPS director Kathleen Roussel told her that her office was proceeding with a trial for the company.

In a marathon, four-hour testimony, Wilson-Raybould told the committee a total of 11 people - including individuals from the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office - were involved in exerting pressure on her and her staff by way of approximately 10 phone calls, 10 meetings as well as numerous emails and text messages. She spoke of constant and sustained efforts over a four-month period last fall by some of the most powerful people in government to ensure SNC-Lavalin avoided a trial.

"Of course we had discussions about the potential loss of 9,000 jobs in communities across the country, including the possible impact on pensions", he said.

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