Wilson-Raybould says anonymous leaks ‘trampling all over’ the confidences she still vows to uphold
Watch the full interview at 11 AM EST on the West Block on Sunday April 7.
Leaks of confidential judicial information and a smear campaign against her by unnamed government sources in recent weeks are running afoul of the same principles of confidentiality former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she is still vowing to honour.
But she predicts that rather than discourage young Indigenous women from entering politics, the smears and attacks against her may do exactly the opposite.
In an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, the now Independent MP for Vancouver-Granville rejected recent anonymous suggestions that she had tried to bind the hands of her successor, Attorney General David Lametti, from cutting a deal to help SNC-Lavalin escape criminal trial.
“Anonymous sources seem to be trampling all over confidences and discussions I may or may not have had with the prime minister,” she said when asked about two media reports earlier this week that she had pressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise Lametti would not do what she had refused to by overriding the decision of the director of public prosecutions not to give the company a much-lobbied-for deal.
WATCH BELOW: ‘I didn’t have an endgame’, says Jody Wilson-Raybould on SNC-Lavalin scandal
Those reports also suggested she had asked Trudeau to apologize to Canadians for the “consistent and sustained” pressure campaign she has attributed to himself and his top political staffers between September and December 2018 to get her to change her mind and intervene in the case.
He has refused to do so.
Wilson-Raybould said she would not comment on the reports.
But she added that she has been surprised and sometimes confused to see the different versions of efforts presented by the government as well as the anonymous attacks on her competencies, which she says were never raised to her in any way prior to the scandal emerging.
“The past number of months have been pretty perplexing to me in terms of different narratives that have come out,” she said.
“The smear campaign, the criticisms, saying that I was not competent to do my job … I wouldn’t say it hurt but it was entirely inappropriate. If someone has a criticism about me I would appreciate people talking to me. I had not heard any of these criticisms before this happened.”
WATCH BELOW: Jody Wilson-Raybould says she ‘had not heard any of these criticisms before this happened’
The Globe and Mail first reported on Feb. 7, 2019, that there had been a campaign to pressure Wilson-Raybould to order the director of public prosecutions to give the Montreal engineering firm a deal to avoid criminal trial and potential conviction.
SNC-Lavalin is facing charges of corruption and fraud for allegedly bribing Libyan officials under the regime of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
If convicted, the company could face a 10-year ban on bidding for lucrative government contracts.
Trudeau initially called the report “false” but has since changed his statements on the matter to argue all the conversations Wilson-Raybould has flagged were entirely appropriate because they were focused on protecting jobs.
However, he and his officials have yet to provide any proof that jobs were at risk.
WATCH: An extended walk and talk with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould
Wilson-Raybould resigned as minister of veterans affairs on Feb. 12.
She had previously been shuffled out of the attorney general post on Jan. 14 and told the House of Commons justice committee conducting a limited probe of the allegations of attempted political interference on Feb. 27 that she believes her refusal to bow to political pressure to interfere in the court case is the reason.
She named 11 top officials including Trudeau as those who she said had “inappropriately” pressured her.
Two have since resigned or announced their resignation: former principal secretary Gerald Butts resigned in February and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick announced last month he would retire early after opposition parties called on him to resign for his heated defence of the government before the justice committee in two separate appearances.
Wernick, as the country’s top civil servant, is supposed to be non-partisan.
But Wilson-Raybould has said he made “veiled threats” against her in their last conversation before she was abruptly shuffled out of the attorney general post.
WATCH BELOW: Will B.C. riding support Jody Wilson-Raybould as an independent MP?
Wernick has denied making threats but after the justice committee refused to allow Wilson-Raybould to respond to rebuttals of her testimony, she submitted a package of additional material that was released to the public — and included an audio recording of her phone call with Wernick corroborating her testimony.
That secretly recorded call was the last straw for her Liberal colleagues, who promptly began attacking her publicly where many had said little previously.
WATCH BELOW: Jody Wilson-Raybould says she has to acknowledge that PM apologized for Grassy Narrows
Just days later, Trudeau ejected her from the Liberal caucus and barred her from running for the party in the fall election.
In his defence of the move — which also expelled former Treasury Board president and rising star Jane Philpott, who had criticized Trudeau’s handling of the allegations — Trudeau said the trust between the two former Liberals and the rest of the caucus had been broken.
Wilson-Raybould rejected the criticisms made by him and her former colleagues that she was disloyal by shining a spotlight on the matter following the report.
“I do not believe that doing the right thing should be pushed aside for political expediency,” she said.
“That may not be what politicians traditionally do but that’s who I am and what I do.”
One day after her ejection, hundreds of young women arrived on Parliament Hill to learn about the challenges of life in politics as Trudeau faced questions from critics and reporters about whether ejecting Wilson-Raybould and Philpott sent a negative message to young women hoping to get into politics but wary of the toxic partisanship and attacks on character that often come with the job.
Dozens of them stood and turned their backs on Trudeau as he spoke to them on the floor of the House of Commons in a speech explaining his decision.
Wilson-Raybould was in the viewing galleries surrounding the House of Commons and watched as that all took place.
She says she spoke with several of the young Indigenous women who were there for that event and does not believe they have been put off from politics.
“I think it’s actually quite the opposite,” she said.
“From their perspective, the ones that I’ve talked to, people feel maybe disappointed, maybe wondering if there’s a place for them, but mostly feel and what they’ve reflected to me is they feel empowered, that in spite of what happened to me, being ejected from the Liberal caucus, that my voice still matters.”
WATCH BELOW: Jody Wilson-Raybould says Indigenous women she has spoken to ‘feel empowered’ to join politics
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