Five things we learned from Wilson-Raybould at the justice committee

Wilson-Raybould provided a detailed accounting of meetings and phone calls on the SNC-Lavalin affair

Five things Canadians learned from former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, in her testimony Wednesday at the House of Commons justice committee.

1. Wilson-Raybould said there were at least 10 phone calls and 10 different meetings, as well as several text messages, about the SNC-Lavalin case, between her or senior members of her staff and 11 people in the Prime Minister’s Office and other departments, between Sept. 4, 2018 and Dec. 18, 2018. One of those meetings was between her and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

She said she began to be concerned immediately about what she viewed as pressure on her to overturn the decision not to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin but that her concerns were heightened as the calls and meetings continued even after she said she had made up he mind not to arrange for a deal.

2. Wilson-Raybould was informed on Sept. 4 that the director of public prosecutions had decided not to pursue a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, but rather continue with a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. She said she conducted her own due diligence and by Sept. 16 had made up her mind that she would not overrule the director’s decision or take over the prosecution herself. The law gives her the authority to do either but Wilson-Raybould said an attorney general has never taken over a prosecution and directives to the public prosecutor have been used only for general policies, not specific cases.

Wilson-Raybould said it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss what research she undertook, or why she made the decision she made, citing concerns about affecting ongoing court cases in the matter.

VIDEO: Wilson-Raybould’s place in Liberal party at risk after SNC-Lavalin testimony

Wilson-Raybould said she felt once she had made up her mind, it was inappropriate to have further conversations about the matter.

Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault argued that decisions on prosecutions continue throughout a case and wondered whether Wilson-Raybould believed she should continue to accept information that might affect the case.

“I was entirely comfortable that I had the appropriate context in which to make my decision,” she said.

3. The conversation Wilson-Raybould had with Trudeau on Sept. 17 alarmed her when he talked about SNC-Lavalin’s importance in Quebec, and the fact that he is a Quebec MP. She believed that distracted from appropriate concerns in considering a remediation agreement, such as saving the jobs of innocent people or the public interest more broadly. She asked him if he was interfering in her role as an independent attorney general and that she would strongly advise against that. She said Trudeau said, “No, no, no, we just need to find a solution.”

4. Wilson-Raybould believed Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick was issuing “veiled threats” to her in a phone call they had on Dec. 19, 2018, in which he told her that the prime minister was still concerned and wanted to know why a deferred-prosecution agreement wasn’t being pursued. She said Wernick told her: “I think (the prime minister) is going to find a way to get it done one way or another. He is in that kind of mood and I wanted you to be aware of it.”

5. The Liberal MPs on the committee asked Wilson-Raybould many times why, if she had so many concerns about being improperly pressured regarding the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, she didn’t resign earlier as the attorney general, and why she accepted a new cabinet job as the minister of veterans affairs when she felt she was being shuffled for not doing what the prime minister wanted.

Wilson-Raybould’s response continued to be that she was doing her job as the attorney general, and upholding the integrity of the office. She told the committee if a directive to proceed to a deferred prosecution had been made while she was the veterans-affairs minister, she would have resigned from cabinet immediately. She did end up resigning on Feb. 12 but said she could not say why, saying an order freeing her from obligations of cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege did not extend to the period after she was no longer the attorney general.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists were ‘driving like their own Indy 500’ before fatal Abbotsford crash, court hears

Family member declares defence request for 90-day jail sentence a ‘joke’

SD 78 approves budget for 2019-2020

No changes to the bottom line, unanimous approval

Chilliwack biologist to speak on climate change at Green Party AGM

Dr. Carin Bondar is an author, adjunct professor and an explorer who has discovered new species

B.C. GAMES: Agassiz speed skater breaks through top 10 three times

Mya Onos competed with top speed skaters in province

World champion SFU Pipe Band comes to Chilliwack

SFU Pipe Band will put on a celebration of culture, music and heritage at Chilliwack Cultural Centre

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

Man pleads guilty to stabbing woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

The suspect, whose name is under a publication ban, faced 10 charges in relation to this incident

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

Most Read