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.”
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.
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.
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.
Liberal MP Ruby Sahota: "Why did you not resign or pick up the phone and have that really serious conversation with the Prime Minister?"— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
Wilson-Raybould: "I felt no compulsion to resign because I was doing my job as the Attorney General."#cdnpoli
If interference was happening and pressure was so serious, why didn't you speak up when you were offered Veterans Affairs, Liberal MP Ruby Sahota asks. Wilson-Raybould reminds her she is prevented from talking about resignation or time at Veterans Affairs.— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
6:31 p.m. ET:
Wilson-Raybould says there were no requests from SNC lobbyists to meet with her about this case. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
6:19 p.m. ET:
Wilson-Raybould explains her "Saturday Night Massacre" comment, explaining it was when Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox; Richardson refused + resigned. Nixon then ordered deputy AG to fire Cox but he also resigned.— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
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:
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.
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.
On Boissonnault's line of questioning: "I believe we're treading on dangerous ground here... I do not feel its appropriate to answer questions with respect to remediation." #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
5:54 p.m. ET:
Randy Boissonnault, the Liberal MP who earlier this month accused opposition parties of being on a witch hunt, asks Wilson-Raybould if she has confidence in the PM. She replies she resigned cabinet "because I did not have confidence to sit around the cabinet table."— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
This is the first mention of why Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned. With that, we have entered the fourth round of questioning.
5:36 p.m. ET:
Wilson-Raybould to Liberal MP Iqra Khalid: I completely reject your position that I don't have regard for other people's opinions. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
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.
Wilson-Raybould says her former Chief of Staff, Jessica Prince (who moved with her to Veterans Affairs), is an "extraordinary person and extraordinary lawyer." #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
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.
5:23 p.m. ET:
Raitt asks Wilson-Raybould how she felt at the end of this. "It makes me very sad when the work that I was able to do with an extraordinary group of people ... was impugned publicly," Wilson-Raybould says. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
5:15 p.m. ET
Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi uses his time to point out that other Five Eyes countries have DPAs. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
5:07 p.m. ET
Responding to a question from Tory MP Lisa Raitt, Wilson-Raybould says she doesn't believe anyone in the PMO had the lawful authority to tell her what to do. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
Ms. Wilson-Raybould mentions anxiety that she felt culminating in the cabinet shuffle.
4:53 p.m. ET
Liberal MP Jennifer O'Connell asks Wilson-Raybould why she didn't communicate her interference concerns to Butts earlier. Wilson-Raybould says she did communicate her concerns early to others, including Wernick, Morneau and PMO, but not directly to Butts. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
For a full understanding of the PMO, PCO and its connection to this affair, read The Globe’s explainer.
4:50 p.m. ET
"I am very shaken by what I've heard here today. I've been a lawyer for over 40 years ... and what I've heard today should make all Canadians extremely upset," says NDP justice critic @MurrayRankin. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
“I made my mind up prior to the Sept. 17 meeting,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould said.
4:40 p.m. ET
"It's okay to talk about job losses ... but when those topics continue to be brought up after a clear decision has been made, its inappropriate," Wilson-Raybould says. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
Wilson-Raybould said talks about shelving prosecution of SNC-Lavalin turned inappropriate when there was discussions about the Quebec election intruded.— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
4:35 p.m. ET
Ms. Wilson-Raybould declines to comment on the current attorney-general David Lametti.
4:32 p.m. ET
Wilson-Raybould asked if she was removed from Justice post because she refused to abandon prosecution of SNC-Lavalin or as Lisa Raitt put it "because she spoke truth to power." JWR says it was possibly because of a decision she would not take.— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
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
"I hope and expect the facts speak for themselves. I imagine Canadians fully understand that in my view in these events constituted pressure," Wilson-Raybould says. "Canadians can judge for themselves." #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
“This is who I am and this is who I always will be,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould concludes.
4:22 p.m. ET
Wilson-Raybould says she told Wernick they were on "dangerous ground" with SNC interference. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
"I am trying to protect the Prime Minister from political interference or perceived political interference," says Wilson-Raybould of her phone conversation with Wernick. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
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.
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.
"We can have the best policy in the world but we need to get re-elected," Wilson-Raybould says PMO official told her. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
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.”
"Are you politically interfering with my role, my job as the Attorney General?" Wilson-Raybould says she told Trudeau, while looking him in the eye. #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
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.
"The Prime Minister asked me to help out, to find a solution for SNC," Ms. Wilson-Raybould says. "I had made up my mind on SNC and was not going to interfere." #cdnpoli— Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) February 27, 2019
3:54 p.m. ET
“If they don’t get a DPA they will leave Montreal,” Wilson-Raybould said she was told about SNC-Lavalin and the need to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with the Montreal company— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
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
Wilson-Raybould talks of + sustained effort by 11 people in PMO/PCO/Finance to interfere in texercise of the "prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada" including "veiled threats" if she didn't negotiate deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
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.
Wilson-Raybould's initial remarks on pressure she faced from Trudeau gov't: efforts to "politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General ... in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement w/ SNC-Lavalin." pic.twitter.com/8Vrw9yuegV— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) February 27, 2019
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