Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould spoke out on the SNC-Lavalin affair because either her father or somebody else was “pulling the strings,” asserted a Liberal MP from B.C. before apologizing in the wake of accusations of sexism.
Jati Sidhu, Liberal MP for the B.C. riding of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, was quoted by The Abbotsford News on Thursday as dismissing the explosive testimony offered by Wilson-Raybould in a four-hour appearance before the House of Commons justice committee about what she described as attempted political interference in her decision not to intervene in the criminal case of the Montreal engineering firm.
“The way she’s acting, I think she couldn’t handle the stress,” he was quoted as saying.
“I think there’s somebody else behind — maybe her father — pulling the strings.”
WATCH: Conservatives accuse Liberals of allegedly ‘gaslighting’ Wilson-Raybould’s testimony
Sidhu went on to echo the questioning done by Liberal MPs on the justice committee, which focused on why Wilson-Raybould did not resign sooner if she had concerns there were attempts to interfere in the criminal case.
If convicted on the charges of corruption and fraud it is facing, SNC-Lavalin would face a 10-year ban on bidding for lucrative government contracts.
As a result, Wilson-Raybould’s testimony indicated that the company had threatened to move its headquarters out of the country if it did not get a remediation agreement, a newly created legal tool that lets companies escape a criminal trial but admit wrongdoing and, typically, pay some kind of fine.
In her testimony, which included read-outs from text exchanges and numerous notes taken by Wilson-Raybould, the former attorney general described a “consistent and sustained effort” over four months from the highest levels of government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to pressure her into reversing her decision not to intervene in the case and offer a deal to SNC-Lavalin.
Despite her telling officials that the behaviour was inappropriate, she said it did not stop.
Instead, it got worse, culminating in a Jan. 7, 2019, phone call in which she was informed she was being removed from the attorney general role.
WATCH: Liberal MP apologizes for saying Wilson-Raybould’s father ‘pulling the strings’ in SNC Lavalin affair
Sidhu dismissed her concerns as “sour grapes.”
However, his remarks quickly prompted condemnation on the floor of the House of Commons as question period played out.
“What disrespect to the former attorney general,” said Conservative Whip Mark Strahl. “Is this the line of the Liberal Party? Will they apologize for these sexist, misogynist comments?”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called the remarks “misogynistic and repugnant,” while other members of his party, including immigration critic Michelle Rempel — who has been vocal in the past about sexism in politics — said Sidhu could be seen “laughing his butt off” while Strahl asked for him to apologize.
Just last week, Trudeau condemned “sexist and racist” attacks by sources described in media reports as anonymous Liberal sources.
Those attacks included what the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs condemned as claims that “she had become a thorn in the side of the cabinet, someone insiders say was difficult to get along with, known to berate fellow cabinet ministers openly at the table.”
His condemnation on Feb. 15 came days after the chiefs urged him on Feb. 12 to speak out.
The reports began being published on Feb. 9, and numerous Liberal MPs have gone on to also attack the anonymous sources at the heart of the bombshell report by the Globe and Mail that first broke the story on Feb. 7.
“We, on this side, know it is never acceptable for such comments to occur,” said Government House Leader Bardish Chagger in response to Strahl’s question.
Chagger later added that “there is no place for misogyny or sexism … I can assure that member that we will look into this matter. We take it very seriously, I take it very seriously, the prime minister takes it very seriously.”
Roughly half an hour later, at the end of question period, Sidhu stood and apologized.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to apologize without reservation to the member for Vancouver Granville,” he said.
“My comments were inappropriate, whether inside or outside this House. It is incumbent on all of us to treat each other with respect at all times.”
Wilson-Raybould has not commented on the remarks.
The House of Commons is set to hold an emergency debate on the SNC-Lavalin affair on Thursday night starting at around 6 p.m. EST.
It could run until midnight.