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Politics ‘Canadians can judge for themselves’: The key moments from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s SNC-Lavalin testimony

Liberal MP and former Canadian justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould waits to testify before the House of Commons justice committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

Key moments from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony:

Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s introduction: For a period of approximately four months between September and December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin. These events involved 11 people (excluding myself and my political staff) – from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This included in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails, and text messages. There were approximately 10 phone calls and 10 meetings specifically about SNC-Lavalin that I and/or my staff was a part of.

On an interaction with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: PM: I was quite taken aback. My response – and I remember this vividly – was to ask the PM a direct question while looking him in the eye – I asked: “Are you politically interfering with my role / my decision as the AG? I would strongly advise against it.” The Prime Minister said “No, No, No – we just need to find a solution.”

On a conversation with Privy Clerk Michael Wernick: He said that the PM wants to be able to say that he has tried everything he can within the legitimate toolbox. The Clerk said that the PM is quite determined, quite firm but he wants to know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn’t being used. He said, “I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another. So, he is in that kinda mood and I wanted you to be aware of that.”

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On a meeting with Finance Minister Bill Morneau: Still on September 19, I spoke to Minister Morneau on this matter when we were in the House. He again stressed the need to save jobs, and I told him that engagements from his office to mine on SNC had to stop – that they were inappropriate.

In a text message with chief of staff Jessica Prince about an interaction with adviser Gerald Butts: Gerry said, “Jess, there is no solution here that doesn’t involve some interference.” At least they are finally being honest about what they are asking you to do! Don’t care about the PPSC’s independence. Katie was like “we don’t want to debate legalities anymore.” … They kept being like “we aren’t lawyers, but there has to be some solution here”.’

To read Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s full statement, click here.




Live updates (in reverse chronological order):

7:23 p.m. ET:

Questioning comes to an end. Thank you for following along. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will respond shortly, and then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will talk to the media around 8 p.m. ET.

To read The Globe’s story on Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, click here.

To read Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s full statement, click here.

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7:11 p.m. ET:

NDP MP Murray Rankin moves a motion to request the Prime Minister to provide an Order in Council for Ms. Wilson-Raybould to discuss matters after serving as attorney-general and justice minister.

6:50 p.m. ET:

We will go into the sixth round of questioning. Ms. Wilson-Raybould says the questions seem to be getting repetitive and has asked that if the committee wants to do another round after this, that the committee reconvene at a later date.

If you’re just joining us, The Globe’s story on Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony is here. Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s full statement is here.

6:36 p.m. ET:

Many Liberal MPs are asking Ms. Wilson-Raybould why she did not resign when she felt pressure to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case.

6:31 p.m. ET:

6:19 p.m. ET:

6:15 p.m. ET:

The Liberals have consistently asked if Ms. Wilson-Raybould has confidence in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still. She declines to answer, saying that question is not relevant.

6:07 p.m. ET:

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Ms. Wilson-Raybould says it would be useful for the justice committee to look at whether the attorney-general and minister of justice roles should be separate portfolios. Canada would benefit from a detailed study around having the attorney-general not sit at the cabinet table, she said.

Read: The impossible position: Canada’s attorney-general cannot be our justice minister

6:00 p.m. ET:

This interaction between Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault and Ms. Wilson-Raybould is the most intense part of the questioning thus far. Mr. Boissonnault is asking questions around why she resigned and why she accepted the role of Minister of Veteran Affairs given what was laid out today.

5:54 p.m. ET:

This is the first mention of why Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned. With that, we have entered the fourth round of questioning.

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5:36 p.m. ET:

Liberal MPs have consistently used their questioning time to ask if she had a responsibility to express her concerns about interference to the PM. She says she did

5:34 p.m. ET:

Ms. Wilson-Raybould says her chief of staff Jessica Prince was “visibily upset” after the Dec. 18 meeting.

5:25 p.m. ET:

Ms. Wilson-Raybould cannot comment on why she resigned as Minister of Veteran Affairs or anything during her time under that portfolio. She says she would come back to provide more testimony if cleared by another Order in Council.

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5:23 p.m. ET:

5:15 p.m. ET

5:07 p.m. ET

Ms. Wilson-Raybould mentions anxiety that she felt culminating in the cabinet shuffle.

4:53 p.m. ET

For a full understanding of the PMO, PCO and its connection to this affair, read The Globe’s explainer.

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4:50 p.m. ET

“I made my mind up prior to the Sept. 17 meeting,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould said.

4:40 p.m. ET

4:35 p.m. ET

Ms. Wilson-Raybould declines to comment on the current attorney-general David Lametti.

4:32 p.m. ET

4:30 p.m. ET

Questions from the members of the committee begin. Read The Globe’s initial story on Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, and Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s full statement.

4:29 p.m. ET

“This is who I am and this is who I always will be,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould concludes.

4:22 p.m. ET

As John Ibbitson writes for The Globe, Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council, tried to make the case for the Trudeau government’s defence in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

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The Clerk of the Privy Council wanted to prove that Jody Wilson-Raybould was wrong to claim she was pressed to override the prosecution of the Quebec-based engineering giant when she was attorney-general. Instead, in blunt, sometimes confrontational, testimony before the House of Commons justice committee, Mr. Wernick confirmed most of what The Globe and Mail had previously reported, and in seeking to prove no pressure had been applied, appeared to prove instead that plenty of pressure had been applied.

4:17 p.m. ET

“There is no solution here that does not include interference,” Gerald Butts said to Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff Jessica Prince in a meeting that did not include Ms. Wilson-Raybould. Ms. Prince shared this via text message after the meeting on Dec. 18.

4:14 p.m. ET

“In my mind, the pressure to change my mind on SNC-Lavalin should have stopped," said Ms. Wilson-Raybould.

4:12 p.m. ET

Ms. Wilson-Raybould says that Mr. Trudeau told her Canada can have the “best policy in the world”, but want to be re-elected in the 2019 federal election.

4:05 p.m. ET

In this meeting, Ms. Wilson-Raybould asked Mr. Trudeau directly, “are you politically interfereing in my role as attorney-general? I would strongly suggest you do not.”

Ms. Wilson-Raybould agreed to have a conversation with the deputy and the Privy Clerk, but that these conversations “would not change my mind.”

4:03 p.m. ET

Ms. Wilson-Raybould says in a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which included the Privy Clerk Michael Wernick, Mr. Trudeau asked her to “help out” to find a solution on SNC-Lavalin on Sept. 17. He cited the loss of jobs and that SNC-Lavalin would have to move from Montreal. A board meeting with SNC-Lavalin would have been Sept. 20.

3:54 p.m. ET

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Wilson-Raybould thanks Canadians for their patience during the weeks since The Globe broke the initial story on Feb. 7.

The DPA that Ms. Wilson-Raybould is referencing is a “deferred prosecution agreement” or remediation agreement that provides an alternative to prosecution. In such deals, a company accepts responsibility for the wrongdoing and pays a financial penalty, relinquishes benefits gained from the wrongdoing and puts in place compliance measures. It was introduced in 2018 as an amendement to the Criminal Code.

“It is unfair that the actions of one or more rogue employees should tarnish a company’s reputation, as well as jeopardize its future success and its employees’ livelihoods,” SNC argued in a brief to federal officials in October, 2017.

3:51 p.m. ET

Jody Wilson-Raybould begins her testimony, saying for four months between September and December 2018, she “sustained a consistent effort from people in the government" to interfere in the SNC-Lavalin case. These events involved 11 people.

“Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the necessity of interference in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential of consequences and veiled threats if a DPA was not made available to SNC,” she said.

The Globe’s Steven Chase shares the fully transcribed opening to Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s statement.




Analysis and commentary

Lori Turnbull: In Ottawa politics, there's pressure ... and then there's 'pressure'

Campbell Clark: Justice hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair will present the facts but it will be up to the public to judge

Adam Radwanski: Trudeau promised change with fresh cabinet faces. He may regret it now

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