Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Saturday he did not want Jody Wilson-Raybould to lie about the SNC-Lavalin affair, as the former justice minister and attorney-general writes in her new book.
“I would never do that. I would never ask her that,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference in Mississauga. “That is simply not true.”
In an excerpt from her book, ‘Indian’ in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power, which will be published Tuesday, Ms. Wilson-Raybould tells a different story and sheds new light on the SNC-Lavalin affair. More than two years ago, Mr. Trudeau’s government was dogged by questions about Ms. Wilson-Raybould being pressured to strike a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin so the engineering and construction firm could avoid criminal charges.
In the prologue of the book, released to The Globe and Mail on Saturday, Ms. Wilson-Raybould describes a meeting she had with Mr. Trudeau about the matter in 2019 where she said she could see his agitation building and his mood shifting.
“I remember seeing it. I remember feeling it,” she wrote. “I had seen and felt this before on a few occasions, when he would get frustrated and angry. But this was different. He became strident and disputed everything I had said. He made it clear that everyone in his office was telling the truth and that I, and by extension Jessica Prince, my chief of staff, and others, were not. He told me I had not experienced what I said I did.”
Ms. Wilson-Raybould also said she knew in this meeting what Mr. Trudeau “was really asking.”
“In that moment, I knew he wanted me to lie – to attest that what had occurred had not occurred,” she wrote. “For me, this was just more evidence that he did not know me, did not know who I was or where I was from. Me – lie to protect a Crown government acting badly; a political party; a leader who was not taking responsibility. He must be delusional.”
When asked why Canadians should believe him and not Ms. Wilson-Raybould, he said this is a question many had two years ago and the issue was talked about, studied and written on extensively before the last election. He also said that he has reflected that over the years in government, “you end up carrying a number of things.”
He also said it is “unfortunate” when people who share a similar “optimistic vision for the country” end up moving in different directions and disagreeing.
“It is no fun and it’s not something anyone wants to have to go through,” he said.
But Mr. Trudeau said that his government has also accomplished big things, citing examples such as work on climate change, medical assistance in dying and on reconciliation. He also said that his focus for the last six years, since the Liberals came to power, has been on Canadians.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole responded to Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s book excerpt Saturday by stating that the SNC-Lavalin affair is an example of how Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals cannot be trusted to do the right thing.
“Canadians no longer believe Justin Trudeau,” he said at a campaign news conference in Whitby, Ont.
Mr. Trudeau ran on “sunny ways” and promised a different style and approach to politics, Mr. O’Toole said, but now it is clear how he treated Ms. Wilson-Raybould and put the “interests of a corporate entity lobbying about a judicial proceeding ahead of doing the right thing for a cabinet minister.”
“It’s a reminder that Mr. Trudeau will say and do anything to win and never has any intention of actually putting Canadians and the needs of the country first,” Mr. O’Toole said.
“I have great respect for Ms. Wilson-Raybould and I think her departure from politics is yet another sign that Mr. Trudeau has constantly, constantly let people down and misrepresented himself. He’s run the most corrupt, cover-up prone government in our history.”
Speaking in Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s former riding of Vancouver Granville on Saturday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the revelations from Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s book are “shocking” but that they are not surprising.
“We’ve always believed what Jody Wilson-Raybould has had to say,” he said, adding that Mr. Trudeau has shown a troubling pattern of behaviour.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould is not seeking re-election. When she announced her decision not to run again in July, she said Parliament has become more and more toxic and ineffective while simultaneously marginalizing individuals from certain backgrounds. In her view, politics is “increasingly a disgraceful triumph of harmful partisanship over substantive action.”
With report from Bill Curry in Whitby, Ont., and Menaka Raman-Wilms in Vancouver.
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