March 10, 2019 11:10 am

Why is Opposition pushing for Wilson-Raybould’s return to committee? To ask if Trudeau lied: Poilievre

WATCH: Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre and the NDP's Peter Julian say the Liberal government needs to fully lift the gag order on former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.

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The Conservatives and the NDP are preparing for a push this week at the House of Commons justice committee to call former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould back for a second appearance.

They say the reason is simple — they need to ask if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lied.

READ MORE: ‘Consider a second opinion’ — Gerald Butts says ‘grey area’ between political staff, Wilson-Raybould on SNC-Lavalin affair

“Did the prime minister or anyone else lie to Jody Wilson-Raybould in an attempt to get her to sign a deferred prosecution agreement on the fly?” Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said to the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson when asked why Conservative members of the committee were pushing to invite the former attorney general back.

WATCH: Trudeau says Jody Wilson-Raybould never came to him and she should have


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Poilievre, along with NDP finance critic Peter Julian, argued that the remarks made by Trudeau and senior officials last week — in which they defended their discussions with Wilson-Raybould about potential job losses at SNC-Lavalin if the Montreal engineering firm were to be prosecuted for corruption charges — only made clear the need to invite her back.

That’s because neither Trudeau, his former principal secretary Gerald Butts nor Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick has provided any evidence to support their claim that jobs were at risk, they said.

READ MORE: Trudeau admits ‘erosion of trust’ during SNC-Lavalin affair but does not apologize

“The jobs argument is just a smokescreen,” said Julian.

Poilievre went one step further, suggesting Trudeau made “falsehoods” when he argued that jobs were at stake and asked Wilson-Raybould to “revisit her decision” not to intervene in the decision of the director of public prosecutions, who chose to pursue a criminal trial instead of offering the firm a way out.

When asked if he thought Trudeau was lying, Poilievre said: “It seems that way.”

WATCH: Trudeau firm on no ‘inappropriate pressure’ in SNC-Lavalin case

As attorney general, Wilson-Raybould had authority at the time to intervene and order the director to offer a deferred prosecution agreement.

The Liberals amended the Criminal Code last year after heavy lobbying by SNC-Lavalin to create the legal tool as an option in cases where companies are charged.

SNC-Lavalin faces one charge of corruption and one charge of fraud for allegedly paying millions in bribes to Libyan officials to get contracts.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY — SNC-Lavalin affair was about saving Liberal seats in Quebec

Liberal members of the justice committee blocked a motion on Wednesday to immediately invite Wilson-Raybould to reappear and address rebuttals offered to her testimony by Butts and Wernick.

On Thursday, the four Conservative and NDP members presented letters to the chair of the committee requesting further study on the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Those letters trigger a meeting that must be held within five days.

So far, discussions around witness lists have been held behind closed doors, and next week is unlikely to be an exception.

However, the decisions of those meetings have been shared as the government moves into the second month of grappling with allegations of attempted political interference amid a controversy that shows no signs of fading.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer asked the RCMP to investigate last month, but the force has not announced any decision.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion had also announced an investigation last month, shortly after the allegations emerged in a report by the Globe and Mail.

However, his office has refused to confirm whether that investigation continues.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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