Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

‘Airing’ needed on SNC-Lavalin affair: Trudeau

PM says he’s confident in examinations underway by ethics commissioner, justice committee

An airing of the facts is needed in the SNC-Lavalin case, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday, but he stressed he is confident in examinations underway by the federal ethics commissioner and the House of Commons justice committee.

Trudeau, who made the remarks before a regular weekly meeting of the Liberal caucus, faced questions about the NDP’s proposal for a broader public inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin controversy dogging the government.

READ MORE: Community leaders in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s B.C. riding voice support for MP

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported almost two weeks ago that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by prime ministerial staff to help the Montreal engineering firm avoid a criminal prosecution on corruption charges related to contracts in Libya.

Wilson-Raybould has since quit the cabinet and Trudeau’s close aide Gerald Butts resigned this week on the grounds that he’s become a distraction.

Nothing short of an independent inquiry will satisfy the Canadian people, NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said Wednesday.

“My argument to the prime minister is come clean,” he said. “Have an independent hearing that is not run by the hand-puppets of the Liberal members of the justice committee.”

In January, Wilson-Raybould was shuffled into the veterans-affairs portfolio in January but resigned last week, hours after Trudeau suggested her continued presence in cabinet indicated nothing untoward had happened involving SNC-Lavalin. The move has been seen as a protest of the way Trudeau has treated her but she herself has said nothing about her reasons.

The ethics commissioner’s probe will focus on whether there was a breach of the Conflict of Interest Act, while the justice committee is set to hear from witnesses including Wilson-Raybould.

Trudeau said Wednesday the government welcomes her testimony. ”It is extremely important that everybody have an opportunity to hear the different perspectives in this situation,” he said.

Wilson-Raybould, who remains the Liberal MP for Vancouver-Granville and attended Wednesday’s caucus meeting, told reporters she knows it is frustrating for many people that she has not commented further on her cabinet resignation.

She maintains she still needs to clarify what she can and cannot say, given the restrictions imposed by solicitor-client privilege covering her former position as the country’s attorney general, but she has agreed to appear before the justice committee.

“I respect that committee process,” she said.

Angus said it is a “joke” to suggest the Liberal-dominated committee will get to the bottom of anything.

“There is a huge difference between promising to air out the dirty laundry and presenting a plan that is so full of holes that it allows Gerry Butts and the rest of the people involved to walk away without coming clean,” he said.

“I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in (Trudeau’s) office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould,” Butts said in a statement when he resigned on Monday. “At all times, I and those around me acted with integrity and singular focus on the best interests of all Canadians.”

—with files from Terry Pedwell

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Semiahmoo Ravens named provincial champs

Peewee team beat Burnaby Winter Club Wednesday

OUR VIEW: Budget circus further erodes trust

Can any party really earn Canadians’ trust, considering the shoddy show that Parliament has become?

51-year-old weather record broken in White Rock

According to Environment Canada, temperatures soared to 19.8 C to beat 17.8 C in 1968.

Semiahmoo advances to B.C. peewee hockey final against Burnaby Winter Club

Ravens to square off against only team to defeat them during provincial tournament

Surrey RCMP hunt for robbery suspect after woman threatened while using ATM

Police say a man demanded a woman withdraw money from her account while threatening her with a weapon

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Teen girl accused in plot to attack Kamloops school with weapons out on bail

Judge warned the girl she would be back in jail if she threatened to shoot anyone

Crown drops one assault charge against B.C. man linked to human remains probe

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will still stand trial on one count of assault causing bodily harm in December.

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

Trans woman hopes funding cut will send message to B.C. rape crisis group

Rape Relief does not turn transgender women away and often connects them to other services, group says

UPDATE: Two avalanches confirmed at Okanagan ski resort, one in hospital

A man has been sent to hospital after an isothermal avalanche at SilverStar March 20

5 to start your day

Chilliwack mayor sits down with health minister, phone scam tricks seniors out of $3.1 million and more

Okanagan man, Yorkshire terrier chased by coyote

Animal sightings have been reported around West Kelowna and the Central Okanagan

Most Read

l -->