Jody Wilson-Raybould says she faced intense political pressure and veiled threats related to the SNC-Lavalin affair, and was warned directly by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the negative consequences if the company faced prosecution.
It was a day of high political drama, as the former justice minister and attorney general accused top Liberal government officials of inappropriate, excessive political interference in an independent criminal prosecution, and the opposition parties called for Trudeau’s resignation and a public inquiry into the scandal.
Testifying at the Commons justice committee Wednesday, Wilson-Raybould said she was contacted by 11 officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office and Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office while she was justice minister and attorney general about the Quebec-based engineering and construction company. SNC-Lavalin was facing corruption charges for contracts in Libya and was lobbying for a remediation agreement as an alternative to criminal prosecution.
“For a period of four months from September to December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the attorney general of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with SNC-Lavalin.”
Wilson-Raybould said she was “hounded” by various officials through phone calls, meetings and text messages.
“Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the necessity of interfering in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential of consequences, and veiled threats if a DPA was not made available to SNC-Lavalin,” she said.
(“I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the gov’t to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion…” 1:08′)
The corporation faced a 10-year ban on bidding on government contracts if convicted of the criminal charges of bribery.
Wilson-Raybould chronicled a series of meetings, including one with Trudeau and Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick on Sept. 17, 2018. She told him that she had made a decision not to overturn the decision from the director of the Public Prosecution Service Kathleen Roussel to proceed with criminal prosecution against SNC-Lavalin.
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