Wilson-Raybould to testify in front of Justice committee Wednesday

Wilson-Raybould to testify in front of Justice committee Wednesday

Nevertheless, Wilson-Raybould accepted the committee's invitation to testify Wednesday afternoon about allegations the Prime Minister's Office improperly pressured her last fall to drop a criminal prosecution against Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet several days after allegations against the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) emerged, and little more than a month after she was shuffled from the justice office to veterans affairs.

Although no time has been set for Wilson-Raybould's testimony, the chair of the Justice committee will be sending her a request to speak at 3:15 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday.

Trudeau said later in the day that he would waive solicitor-client privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak freely about the affair.

However, in a letter to the committee Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould warned that the waiver "falls short of what is required" for her to fully tell her side of the story.

Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould were awaiting legal advice on the extent of solicitor-client privilege protecting their conversations. During that meeting, held two weeks after the director of public prosecutions had ruled out a remediation agreement for SNC-Lavalin, Wernick said Wilson-Raybould informed the prime minister that she had "no intention of intervening" in the matter, although as attorney general she was legally entitled to give direction to the public prosecutor.

- A September 17 meeting with Trudeau and Wernick, which the clerk said was primarily focused on the stalled Indigenous-rights agenda, over which he said Wilson-Raybould had "a very serious policy difference" with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and other ministers.

Trudeau said Tuesday that he's "pleased" that Wilson-Raybould will get to "share her perspectives" about the controversy.

Wilson-Raybould said those exchanges prompted her to think of the so-called Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, when the USA attorney general and his top deputy quit rather than obey an order from President Richard Nixon to fire an investigator probing the Watergate scandal.

Wilson-Raybould to testify in front of Justice committee Wednesday

"I'm not sure how that question is relevant", she said when asked by a Liberal colleague if she still has confidence in the prime minister.

"I therefore completely disagree with (Wilson-Raybould's) characterization of events", he continued, brushing off a demand from Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer that he resign.

Wilson-Raybould says the waiver does not apply to anything said or done after she was shuffled on January 14 to the veterans-affairs post - including her resignation from cabinet a month later and her presentation to cabinet last week about her reasons for resigning. The agreement would have allowed the company to pay reparations but avoid a criminal trial on charges of corruption and bribery.

Wilson-Raybould told the committee that she believed the pressure, which also included "veiled threats" from the country's top civil servant, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, was inappropriate.

Trudeau has insisted he was always clear the decision whether to prosecute was Wilson-Raybould's alone.

According to Wilson-Raybould, Wernick told her that Trudeau wanted to know why SNC-Lavalin was not being offered a remediation agreement.

Citing her chief of staff's account of the exchange, Wilson-Raybould quoted Butts as saying: "There is no solution here that does not involve some interference".

Her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, was eventually summoned to an urgent December 18 meeting with Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, and his then principal secretary, Butts. If the committee wants to call certain witnesses the committee members can decide who they want to hear from, he said.

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