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Opposition keeps heat on Liberals over Wilson-Raybould

10 February 2019

The Globe and Mail newspaper reports that SNC-Lavalin repeatedly lobbied Justin Trudeau's aides for a deal and that his office leaned on Wilson-Raybould to make it happen. The Post has not independently confirmed the allegations of political interference.

Neither Wilson-Raybould nor SNC-Lavalin has immediately responded to questions from The Canadian Press about the story.

Given the jobs at stake, officials said, the government would have failed in its duty had there not been discussion about whether to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case.

The Quebec engineering and construction giant has been charged with bribery and corruption in a bid to secure government business in Libya and wanted a deal, allowed under the law, to pay reparations rather than be prosecuted.

"Even more shocking, the prime minister may have fired her from her role as our country's first Indigenous justice minister and attorney general", said McLeod, the Conservative party's Indigenous Affairs critic.

"At this point, everything is on the table", Scheer said. A committee study is necessary to "clear the air" around the allegations, he said.

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Scheer says Conservatives on the House of Commons justice committee, along with the New Democrats, will also force an emergency meeting to consider a motion calling on nine high-ranking government officials to testify, including Wilson-Raybould herself. Scheer called for committee hearings into allegations of political influence into SNC-Lavalin's criminal case.

Wilson-Raybould moved from being attorney general to minister of Veterans Affairs on January 14. "No minister of the Crown can be compelled to answer for things that happened in their former role", he said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wants there to be an ethics investigation into the allegations and says if they're not true, like Trudeau said, then he has nothing to worry about.

NDP MPs Charlie Angus and Nathan Cullen on Friday wrote to ethics commissioner Mario Dion, suggesting the allegations could represent a breach of a provision of the Conflict of Interest Act that prohibits public office holders from giving "preferential treatment to any person or organization".

In a statement Friday morning, Wilson-Raybould, now veterans-affairs minister, said she is bound as the former attorney general by solicitor-client privilege and can not publicly talk about aspects of the case.

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It appears a corporation that has in the past made illegal donations to the Liberal party, among others, was able to influence the government to the point of changing the law and pressuring the attorney general to interfere with a decision of the public prosecutor, Singh said.

"Canadians deserve answers", he said.

"If it had happened when I was attorney general, I would've called 911", Bryant told CTV's Power Play.

McLeod said while the prime minister may not have "directed" Wilson-Raybould to abandon prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, even asking, suggesting or pressuring is "totally inappropriate".

As to whether Wilson-Raybould is truly bound to secrecy on this by solicitor-client privilege, as she insists she is, it is hard to say for certain without knowing exactly what she discussed with the Prime Minister's Office.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is created to make decisions independently, but it is still accountable to the attorney general and can be directed by the attorney general as long that direction is made public.

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Opposition keeps heat on Liberals over Wilson-Raybould