Former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould will be called to testify at a parliamentary committee probing the SNC-Lavalin scandal — but it’s not yet clear how much she’ll be able to reveal publicly because she’s still bound by client-solicitor privilege.
Wilson-Raybould said today she is consulting with her lawyer about what she can and can’t say, and his guidelines also will apply to her appearance before the Commons justice committee.
“I will appear, but as I said, I’m still in discussions with my counsel about the various privileges and confidences that I have,” she said.
Wilson-Raybould resigned from the Liberal cabinet last week — but emerged from the cabinet room Tuesday afternoon after addressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers. Standing at the centre of a scandal engulfing the government, she conceded the situation is complex.
“The rules and laws around privilege, around confidentiality, around my responsibility as a member of Parliament, my ethical and professional responsibilities as a lawyer are layered and incredibly complicated. So I’m still working with my lawyer,” she said.
Minutes later, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid tweeted that she had issued a notice of motion before the justice committee to invite Wilson-Raybould to appear before the committee looking into reports that the prime minister’s office pressured her to direct the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to sign a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with SNC-Lavalin.
A DPA — a legal measure similar to a plea deal — would have allowed the Quebec-based multinational engineering firm to avoid prosecution on bribery and fraud charges in relation to contracts in Libya.
Facing mounting pressure from opposition critics to waive client-solicitor privilege, Trudeau today would say only that he asked his new Justice Minister David Lametti to review the situation and provide him with advice.
Trudeau also said Wilson-Raybould made the request to address cabinet today, but would not divulge any details of what she said.
Wilson-Raybould was demoted to the Veterans Affairs portfolio earlier this month; she resigned cabinet last week, just days after the Globe and Mail reported that she was pressured to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case.
Wilson-Raybould said today she remains a Liberal MP.
Trudeau has denied any wrongdoing, as has his former top aide Gerry Butts, who resigned Monday in a bombshell announcement.
Wilson-Raybould has retained retired Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell and has maintained she is limited in what she can say due to solicitor-client privilege. As the former attorney-general, Wilson-Raybould acted as the government’s top lawyer.