The Conservatives and the NDP say that they’re determined to have former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and former treasury board president Jane Philpott tell their full side of the story on the SNC-Lavalin affair.
“We’re going to use any means that we can in order to allow Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott to come forward and tell the complete story because that’s what Canadians want to have — the complete story,” Conservative MP Lisa Raitt told the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson.
On Friday, Wilson-Raybould told the Liberal-majority committee that she would share copies of text messages and emails that she referenced in her explosive testimony last month, along with her responses to the some of the refutations made by witnesses who appeared after her.
Raitt said the onus is now on the Liberals to re-open the justice committee investigation into whether the Prime Minister’s Office inappropriately interfered with Wilson-Raybould over the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on corruption charges.
“I just can’t believe the Liberals are losing the opportunity to actually cross-examine her or test her on the evidence. If they don’t re-open the committee, it would be a shame,” she said.
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NDP MP Daniel Blaikie said that while he hoped the Liberals would re-open the justice committee, he didn’t have faith in them doing that.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do. I mean, if there’s been one consistent theme in this story, it’s that I just think the Liberals really don’t know what they’re doing,” Blaikie said.
“I think if you take a step back and you said, ‘This is a government that’s serious about ensuring that these women who have raised important issues of principle get to tell their whole story,’ — their behaviour doesn’t fit that at all.”
With the House ethics committee set to meet on Tuesday, Raitt said Conservatives would continue to raise arguments for allowing Wilson-Raybould and Philpott tell their full story.
“They’ll make the pitch — meaning our guys will make the pitch — to say the reasons why we believe that there should be some kind of availability for people to come forward and tell the story in full,” Raitt said, although she pointed out that a Liberal MP would have to vote with the Opposition to take the matter forward.
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Raitt said Wilson-Raybould’s willingness to share more information with the justice committee means there’s a good chance that a full testimony will emerge in time.
Blaikie said the NDP would continue to call for a public inquiry on the matter, saying, “Not only do we need to create the space for Jody-Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott to be able to tell their story, but we also would like somebody who’s clearly independent to be in charge of investigating what’s going on and to deliver some findings to Canadians — to give them a sense of what actually happened, what were the salient points and what conclusions should be drawn.”
Raitt said it’s time for the Liberals to stop placing the onus on Wilson-Raybould and Philpott to come forward, and rather to help create the conditions to help allow the pair to speak up.
“I find it interesting that the Liberals are trying to put the onus and the blame on Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, saying that well they could just come forward can’t they? When the reality is, is that their legal advice says that they can’t, that they must be relieved of their obligations that they feel they have by the prime minister. So it’s really in their hands,” Raitt said.
“This is crass political interference with a criminal justice issue and Canadians want to know exactly what happened.”
— With files from Amanda Connolly