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Canadian News Feb 27, 2019 11:11 AM EST

Jody Wilson-Raybould suggests she was threatened and pressured by PMO

According to Jody Wilson-Raybould the PMO advised her to consider politics when looking at the SNC-Lavalin case.

Jody Wilson-Raybould suggests she was threatened and pressured by PMO
Ali Taghva Montreal, QC

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Jody Wilson-Raybould testified earlier today in front of the justice committee that there were “veiled threats” regarding SNC-Lavalin during her time Attorney General.

She noted that she kept explicit notes of this over multiple months and attempted to speak with members of the PMO and cabinet on multiple occasions.

Her statement comes shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau partially waived her solicitor-client privilege which barred her from speaking on the issue.

Jody Wilson-Raybould testimony

While speaking to the justice committee, the former Justice Minister claimed that for about 4 months, from September to December 2018, there was a sustained effort by 11 people to get a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) for SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould was told to consider the fact that it was a Quebec election year, and she was apparently warned not to get into a "collision" with Trudeau during one of the meetings.

Wilson-Raybould related to the justice committee an encounter with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Wilson-Raybould asked Trudeau directly while looking him in the eyes.

“I asked are you politically interfering with my role, my decision as attorney general?” she said.

“No, no, no we just need to find a solution,” allegedly replied Justin Trudeau.

She continued to say that the Clerk of the Privy Office brought up job losses regarding the SNC-Lavalin prosecution during a following meeting.

She called the interventions and meetings a “recurring theme” despite her insistence on her responsibility as the attorney general.

Wilson-Raybould insisted that she would not be pursuing a deferred prosecution agreement. She pointed out during one of the encounters that the government was interfering in her choice.

According to her, they suggested they would hire an “eminent person” to help advise her on her decision despite having already made one.

When commenting on her state of mind during her tenure, “various officials also urged me to take partisan political implications into account,” said Wilson-Raybould.

“The consistent and enduring effort raises serious red flags in my view,” said Wilson-Raybould “Yet this is what continued to happen.”

“On Dec 18, 2018 my Chief of Staff was summoned to a meeting with Katie Telford and Gerald Butts. They wanted to know where I was on finding a solution.”

“They referenced a possible call with the prime minister and the clerk the next day.”

Interference with SNC-Lavalin and the Trudeau government

Wilson-Raybould read from a transcript during a meeting with members from the PMO.

“There is no solution here that does not involve some interference” said Gerald Butts in a meeting with Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff. “We don’t want to debate legalities,” said Katie Telford in the same meeting.

Throughout her testimony, the former Justice Minister outlined several instances where she felt that the Prime Minister’s Office and others pressured her into intervening on behalf of SNC-Lavalin despite her constant refusal to do so.

Wilson-Raybould compared her situation to the Saturday Night Massacre, the famous incident during the Nixon Presidency when Nixon attempted to avoid impeachment by ordering Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

When Richardson refused, a series of firings occurred and eventually led to Nixon’s downfall. The implication seemed to be that something similar to Watergate was about to take place in Canada.

“It has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be nonpartisan” said Wilson-Raybould, “and in this respect always be willing to speak truth to power.”

You can view the live speech here.

This is a breaking news article and will be updated.

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