March 19, 2019 10:33 am
Updated: March 19, 2019 4:26 pm

Opposition MPs briefly storm out of committee meeting as Liberals end SNC-Lavalin investigation

WATCH ABOVE: Scheer accuses Trudeau of using budget to 'hide something' amid SNC-Lavalin controversy

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Opposition MPs briefly stormed out of the Justice Committee meeting Tuesday morning, after reporters were given a document outlining a Liberal motion to discuss hate crimes the morning after publicly calling for an end to the SNC-Lavalin investigation.

READ MORE: Liberals’ 2019 budget includes billions for seniors, jobs and first-time home buyers

During the meeting Tuesday morning, the Liberal-majority committee voted to end the probe into the affair.

The vote came after the five Liberal MPs in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights sent a letter to the chair of the committee Monday night saying they believe the “all rules and laws were followed” by government staff in relation to SNC-Lavalin, and that “Canadians now have the necessary information to arrive at a conclusion.”

WATCH: Committee members speak to media after Liberals vote to end SNC-Lavalin probe

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“We have had five weeks of testimony, we’ve heard from 10 witnesses… it’s time for the justice committee to do its work and get back to, return to the work of the justice committee,” Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault said as he defended the vote.

Opposition MPs decried the vote, saying the Liberals were shutting the probe down before everyone had the opportunity to speak.

“How can they reach that conclusion, when they have failed to hear from a majority of the key players? How can they reach that conclusion when they have silenced Jody Wilson-Raybould from telling her full version of events,” Conservative MP Michael Cooper said as he left the meeting.

“A public inquiry is the only way we can get at the truth,” NDP MP Murray Rankin said.

COMMENTARY: Liberals will hope Tuesday’s budget deflects from SNC-Lavalin scandal

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called it an abuse of power and a cover up in a news conference shortly after the meeting, saying Tories will use “emergency measures” in response to the closing of the probe.

Asked if he would allow the Liberals to make their budget speech in the House of Commons later Tuesday, Scheer refused to give a clear answer, only saying he would “not sit idly by.”

The Tuesday budget — expected to be brimming with measures aimed at wooing voters — has been expected to provide some distraction from the SNC-Lavalin affair.

WATCH: Andrew Scheer refuses to say if he’ll delay budget speech, says he won’t ‘sit idly by’

Ahead of the planned Justice Committee meeting, Liberal staffers handed out a motion to media to discuss hate crimes and study how racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia spreads through online platforms.

Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson reported on the motion on Twitter — which was the first opposition MPs had heard of the motion, Tory MP Lisa Raitt told Global News.

They said the Liberals violated the Committee in camera rules by providing that motion to media before it was tabled and walked out of the meeting. After briefly speaking to media, the opposition MPs rushed back into the meeting, which is in camera and thus not open to the media.

Opposition MPs had been asking for the meeting to be open to the public, and for the probe to continue, saying Canadians have the right to hear more about the SNC-Lavalin controversy.

Raitt said on Twitter that even after the investigation, “we don’t know why” MPs Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott resigned from the Liberal cabinet, or why Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Gerald Butts resigned from their positions after the scandal broke.

READ MORE: Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick retiring amid questions over his role in SNC-Lavalin affair

NDP MP Murray Rankin said Wednesday Raybould-Wilson had more to say and would ask the committee to “do the right thing.”

*with files from Mercedes Stephenson 

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

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