March 13, 2019 1:54 pm
Updated: March 14, 2019 12:40 am

Liberals block bid to immediately debate Wilson-Raybould reappearing at committee on SNC-Lavalin

Liberal members on the House of Commons justice committee used their majority to shut down an opposition bid to immediately debate inviting Jody Wilson-Raybould to reappear on the SNC-Lavalin affair.


Liberal members of the House of Commons justice committee have used their majority to shut down an opposition bid to immediately discuss inviting former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to testify for a second time.

In a meeting Wednesday afternoon in Ottawa, Liberal MP Francis Drouin moved a motion to adjourn the committee that had been called after four opposition members sent letters requesting the committee meet to consider inviting Wilson-Raybould to respond to testimony made about her characterization of the SNC-Lavalin affair by Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to the prime minister, Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick and Nathalie Drouin, deputy attorney general.

READ MORE: OECD anti-bribery officials ‘concerned’ by SNC-Lavalin affair, plan to ‘closely monitor’ case

In his motion, Drouin cited another motion passed by the Liberal members of the committee on March 6 that stated the committee would next meet to discuss potential witnesses on March 19, and asked the committee to adjourn until then.

March 19 is the day the federal government has chosen to present its latest budget.

WATCH BELOW: Poll says half of Canadians say Trudeau should resign over the SNC-Lavalin affair

His proposal quickly prompted howls from the opposition, with Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre telling the Liberal members, “you should be ashamed.”

Other opposition members could be heard shouting accusations of a “cover up” and “disgusting” behaviour.

LISTEN BELOW: Conservative Pierre Poilievre on justice committee adjournment

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With their majority on the committee, Liberal members quickly passed Drouin’s motion.

The committee now maintains its plan to meet behind closed doors on one of the busiest days in the political calendar, which will see the bulk of Canadian journalists sequestered until the late afternoon as they comb over details of the federal budget before it is released publicly.

Conservative and NDP members had requested an emergency debate to specifically discuss inviting her to respond to rebuttals of her explosive testimony made by by Butts, Wernick and Drouin.

Wilson-Raybould has already told the committee she is willing to reappear.

WATCH BELOW: Wilson-Raybould describes ‘consistent, sustained effort’ to interfere in SNC-Lavalin case

The SNC-Lavalin affair was sparked by a Feb. 7 report by the Globe and Mail that alleged Wilson-Raybould was pressured by officials in the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene in the decision of the director of public prosecutions not to cut SNC-Lavalin a deal that would let it avoid criminal trial.

Known as a remediation or deferred prosecution agreement, such deals were created by the Liberals in 2018 after heavy lobbying from the Montreal engineering firm and allow for a company with a reasonable prospect of conviction to admit wrongdoing and pay a fine at the discretion of the prosecutor.

However, Wilson-Raybould told the committee after Liberal members allowed a limited probe of the matter that she refused to override that decision, and said she believes she was shuffled out of the position of attorney general as a result.

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She argues the “consistent and sustained effort” to get her to change her mind amounted to inappropriate pressure.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau originally called the Globe and Mail report “false” then later changed his position to no longer describe the report as such and instead, assert that all conversations he and his staff had with Wilson-Raybould were done in the interest of protecting jobs.

He and his officials have been asked repeatedly by both opposition members of the justice committee and media for evidence that jobs were at risk if SNC-Lavalin were to face a criminal trial and potential conviction for the corruption and fraud charges against it.

WATCH: Liberals quickly end justice committee meeting on SNC-Lavalin

Neither have offered any data that shows that is the case, though Trudeau said the company had made “representations.”

Trudeau has maintained there was no inappropriate pressure.

He has also not apologized for the allegations of attempted political interference by himself and his senior staff.

Anti-bribery officials from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development announced on Monday they are “concerned” about the allegations and plan to “closely monitor” the case.

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