Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: Leger poll for CP

Trudeau says an ‘airing’ needed on SNC-Lavalin affair, dodges questions on calls for public inquiry

Trudeau says an ‘airing’ needed on SNC-Lavalin affair, dodges questions on calls for public inquiry

Angus called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out for voting against the motion and not abstaining like Wilson-Raybould. As attorney general, Wilson-Raybould could overrule the prosecution service, directing it to negotiate an agreement with the company. But Wilson-Raybould, demoted in a January reshuffle, quit on February 12 and then Trudeau's principal private secretary and close ally Gerald Butts resigned on Monday. Butts denied any wrongdoing amid continuing questions about alleged PMO interference in a criminal prosecution of the Quebec-based engineering and construction giant.

Unless those two accounts are glaringly at odds, that may well be the end of the matter and we are all going to wonder whether it was worth paralyzing the government of Canada for much of the past month.

Canada's Ethics Commissioner has opened an investigation into the claims.

Trudeau said his government consistently stands up for the rule of law and the independence of the justice system and he is awaiting advice from Lametti on how to proceed on the question of privilege. There's the ethics commissioner who is doing an investigation into this issue.

MPs are also scheduled to vote today on a non-binding NDP motion calling for a public inquiry into the affair and the waiving of solicitor-client privilege. Wilson-Raybould has said she's retained former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell to advise her about what she can legally talk about publicly.

Up until now, information available to the public indicated that Trudeau spoke to Wilson-Raybould before a decision was made by the prosecutors, announced by SNC-Lavalin on October 10th. "Shine the light on what is possibly a criminal matter and do it today", she said.

The motion was defeated as the Liberals used their majority to shoot it down.

The Liberal House Justice Committee members have twice shot down opposition requests to call anyone from the PMO, or Butts, to appear, though that's now an avenue of inquiry that Conservative senators are keen to see revived in the Upper Chamber. She is the first Indigenous person to hold the post, which combines duties as a politician (heading the Department of Justice) and a legal official (overseeing prosecutions). The former minister said she would remain in the Liberal caucus, and another lawmaker said she will indeed be called to speak to the justice committee.

As for whether she'll be able to actually say anything when she appears at committee, expected on Monday, will be determined by whether the prime minister waives solicitor-client privilege or both sides are able to find a way to reveal more details of the still unconfirmed allegations.

Citing solicitor-client privilege, Wilson-Raybould refuses to speak about dealings she had on the case when she was attorney general.

The most serious political impasse this Liberal government has had to face may all come down to a difference of interpretation between a male political staffer and a female cabinet minister over what constitutes "undue pressure".

As Liberal MPs exited their caucus meeting Wednesday, Lametti was asked again about whether his advice will come before she's set to testify, and he would not comment.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale suggested that "anything is possible" when asked if there was a "path" for Wilson-Raybould to return to cabinet. He defended the ongoing probes as "orderly" and "logical". He says he told her he would not.

Likely unnoticed by most amid a very full news day y'day, but NDP have proposed an amendment to their own oppo motion calling for a public SNC-Lavalin inquiry, to add: "and to report back to the House no later than May 31, 2019".

The committee will also hear from Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, current Justice Minister David Lametti, and deputy justice minister Nathalie Drouin, along with a number of academics who can discuss the legal principles underpinning the allegations.

Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould leaves the Parliament buildings following Question Period in Ottawa, Tuesday.

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