Jody Wilson-Raybould has been invited to testify at the Commons justice committee probing the SNC-Lavalin affair Wednesday afternoon, after obtaining a broad waiver that allows her to disclose details of her conversations with government officials about the prosecution of the Montreal-based global engineering and construction company.
The former justice minister and attorney general also has been granted an extended, uninterrupted 30-minute period to deliver an opening statement to the committee.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he’s “pleased” that Wilson-Raybould will be able to “share her perspectives” on the SNC-Lavalin affair.
“It’s important that people get an opportunity to testify, or share their point of view, at committee,” Trudeau told reporters as he headed into the weekly Liberal cabinet meeting.
“As we said, waiving privilege, waiving cabinet confidentiality is something that we had to take very seriously, but I’m pleased that Ms. Wilson-Raybould is going to be able to share her perspectives.”
An order-in-council (OIC) posted online Monday waived cabinet confidence and solicitor-client privilege for Wilson-Raybould in her conversations with the justice committee and the ethics commissioner. The waiver does not cover communications between Wilson-Raybould and the director of public prosecutions — a limit imposed to “uphold the integrity of any criminal or civil proceedings,” according to the text of the order.
Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti said the order achieves two objectives.
“What we were doing is establishing a process that’s fair and open and allows transparency but still protects the very principles that we want to protect in the legal system, as well as not interfering with ongoing litigation,” he said.
Lametti confirmed there were “contacts” between lawyers, but would not say whether he was talking about discussions between government lawyers and Wilson-Raybould’s counsel — retired Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell.
On Monday, Wilson-Raybould wrote to the committee chair, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, stating that she is “anxious” to appear. She also sought permission to deliver a 30-minute opening statement instead of the usual five to 10 minutes, a request which has been granted.
The justice committee is examining the growing controversy touched off by a Feb. 7 Globe and Mail report that said Trudeau’s aides attempted to press Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin to help the company avoid criminal prosecution on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.
Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet on Feb. 12, and has remained silent on the matter, insisting she’s still bound by solicitor-client confidentiality from her time as attorney general.