Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

LILLEY: Trudeau needs to take off the gag

LILLEY: Trudeau needs to take off the gag

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who resigned from the Liberal cabinet Tuesday, has cited the privilege as the reason she can not speak publicly about discussions with the prime minister's inner circle on the fate of criminal charges against construction and engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Canada's Conflict of Interest and Ethics commissioner has launched a probe into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's alleged illegal attempts to shield engineering giant SNC-Lavalin from criminal fraud and corruption charges.

In an open letter Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould said she has retained a lawyer, former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, to provide advice on the "topics that I am legally permitted to discuss in this matter".

First, the prime minister said he didn't direct Wilson-Raybould to do anything untoward.

Wilson-Raybould quit on Tuesdau amid news reports that she was pressured to go easy on a major firm a year ago.

But in a letter to the prime minister announcing her resignation on Tuesday, Ms Wilson-Raybould said that she is "aware that many Canadians wish for me to speak on matters that have been in the media over the last week".

A major hiccup in relations with First Nations and the potential for weeks or months of headlines associated with the SNC-Lavalin scandal could hardly come at a worse time for the federal Liberals heading into a election year.

The very charges that SNC-Lavalin face make it impossible for the director of the Public Prosecution Service to consider the too big to fail argument.

Wilson-Raybould shepherded legislation to allow medical assistance in dying, prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression, and to legalize cannabis.

"In our system of government, of course, her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself", he said following a housing announcement - one that Wilson-Raybould didn't attend, unlike a handful of fellow Liberals from the city.

"What happened to me was a real tell-tale sign of how Trudeau's government is operating".

On Wednesday the justice committee will meet and consider a request by the Conservatives and NDP to call Wilson-Raybould and some of Trudeau's most senior advisors.

Now though, Canadians aren't as confident following her sudden resignation from Trudeau's cabinet.

Both leaders have public appearances scheduled later Tuesday - Trudeau in Winnipeg and Scheer in Fredericton.

Liberal MPs hold the majority on the committee and it's possible that they could amend the language in the motion before them to change the scope or focus of the proposed study. "It doesn't help them that Wilson-Raybould's father (influential First Nations leader Bill Wilson) is calling them out on that failure".

Housefather said that there has been no pressure from above to the Liberals on the committee.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says Wilson-Raybould's treatment by the federal Liberals will cost them First Nation support.

"MKO sees the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould as a significant step backwards in our longstanding efforts to advance reconciliation between the MKO Treaty Nations and Canada".

I want to thank all Canadians, and in particular the residents of Vancouver-Granville, who put their trust in me and supported me as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and as the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.

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