Presenting a rare, united front, Tory MP Candace Bergen and NDP MP Daniel Blaikie believe the current attorney general should provide more clarity on the SNC-Lavalin affair currently plaguing Ottawa, the members told Mercedes Stephenson on The West Block this weekend.
After watching an interview between recently appointed Attorney General David Lametti and Stephenson, Bergen and Blaikie agreed that Lametti has been evasive in his communications about the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
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“So there are a number of concerns but overall, to me what it looked like is we have a current attorney general who is completely under the thumb of the prime minister,” said Bergen.
“What a comparison between the former attorney general, who is clear, concise, knows the law, is very direct. We heard that in her testimony and David Lametti, who was vague, evasive, didn’t want to give an opinion and I would say he’s doing exactly what the prime minister wants,” Bergen continued.
Blaikie echoed her sentiment.
“What we need right now from the attorney general is clarity. It’s what we need from the prime minister, too. And that interview was anything but clear in terms in terms of his answers,” he said.
WATCH: Unpacking the politics of the SNC-Lavalin affair
It’s been three weeks since The Globe and Mail broke the news that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly pressured then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to change her mind in the ongoing SNC-Lavalin case. Wilson-Raybould took up the post of veterans’ affairs minister after being shuffled out of her role in January, before resigning from cabinet entirely last week.
In four hours of riveting testimony on Wednesday afternoon, the former justice minister and attorney general said she faced pressure to intervene in the prosecution against SNC-Lavalin over fraud and bribery charges, which involved about 10 phone calls and 10 meetings that she called inappropriate between September and December 2018.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has disagreed with the whole of Wilson-Raybould’s characterization of events, though has yet to offer another viable alternative.
Bergen also suggested that the justice committee tasked with investigating the case is politically motivated in Trudeau’s favour, as it includes six Liberals.
“They obviously have a political interest in what is said and what the conclusion of that investigation is, so, you know, when you’re talking about ethical standards, whether there’s a real conflict or an apparent conflict, that’s enough,” Bergen explained.
The NDP and Conservative Party have called for a public inquiry into the matter, in addition to internal probes.
Stephenson also questioned them on whether or not they believe the prime minister should step aside.
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“Well we called for a public inquiry because we think there’s a lot more to know and it may be that once we actually get to the bottom of what’s going on that that is the most appropriate course of action and that we end up calling for that,” said Blaikie.
Both Bergen and Blaikie agreed however, that they need more information before any decisions can be made, and suggested that the prime minister to testify on the matter.
“I’d like to know what the prime minister and [former principal secretary] Gerald Butts talked about last Wednesday when they talked after he resigned as well and whether they’re just trying to get their story straight and get on the same page or whether they’re going to provide some genuine testimony,” said Blaikie.
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“Well I would like to hear the truth and I would like to not hear him discredit Jody Wilson-Raybould, which I’m afraid that he might do,” said Bergen. “But ultimately, we need to hear from the prime minister himself. We need him to testify under oath.”
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