The complicated legality behind Wilson-Raybould silence on SNC-Lavalin scandal

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould nearly two weeks after federal prosecutors informed SNC-Lavalin it would not be invited to negotiate a settlement to help the company avoid criminal prosecution.

The PM's former attorney general made the comments moments before a vote calling for a public inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair that has seen Wilson-Raybould resign from cabinet and Trudeau's top advisor Gerry Butts walk the plank all over allegations the government doesn't want to talk about and wishes would go away.

Her resignation followed accusations in the press that the Prime Minister's Office pressured her to help SNC-Lavalin obtain a leniency deal while she was attorney general.

She has so far declined to comment on the issue, citing solicitor-client privilege. In a subsequent story, the Globe has reported that Trudeau met with Wilson-Raybould after federal prosecutors determined that SNC-Lavalin would not be granted a remediation agreement. Then Gerald Butts, having resigned from the PMO, will be free to defend his reputation.

The motion, which also implored the prime minister to waive solicitor-client privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak, was defeated by the Liberals with a vote of 134 in favour and 160 against.

"I respect that committee process", she said.

The committee has agreed to eventually hear from Wilson-Raybould, likely early next week, but opposition MPs question how much she'll be able to say so long as she is still bound by solicitor-client privilege. "Privilege and confidentiality are not mine to waive and I hope that I have the opportunity to speak my truth", she said.

"The coverup continues", said Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus after the closed-door committee meeting.

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.

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During question period, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer peppered Trudeau with questions about the September 4 refusal by the director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, which faces charges of bribery and corruption related to government contracts in Libya.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould makes an announcement regarding family law on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

"Very respectful", said Liberal MP Marc Miller when asked about the reception Wilson-Raybould received in caucus.

Justice committee member and Liberal MP Iqra Khalid makes her way to a committee meeting in Ottawa, Tuesday February 19, 2019.

Others say Trudeau's inner circle pays little attention to the concerns of back-bench legislators and have sidelined more experienced advisors.

By GCR staff0 CommentsThe principal secretary to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau resigned this week as controversy mounted over the SNC-Lavalin corruption case.

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.

"I'm very satisfied with the overall meeting we had", said International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

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".