Wilson-Raybould asks for ‘clarity’ before speaking to justice committee

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday

Wilson-Raybould's agreement to testify follows an unusual move by Trudeau on Monday night to issue a cabinet order waiving all claims of cabinet confidence and solicitor-client privilege over the testimony Wilson-Raybould may give on the issue.

A majority of Canadians believe a deeper scandal within the prime minister's office will emerge as more details about its contact with former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin (SNC.TO) file come to light, according to a new poll. In a letter to the committee Monday, she said she was "anxious" to appear, but was waiting for full clarity on what she could and couldn't say.

"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".

Wilson-Raybould is expected to address her interactions with Trudeau, Privy Council Office Clerk Michael Wernick, and likely some former cabinet colleagues and senior PMO staff about the events leading up to her resignation as veterans affairs minister.

"It's important that people get an opportunity to testify or share their point of view at committee".

Although no time has been set for Wilson-Raybould's testimony, the chair of the Justice committee will be sending her a request to speak at 3:15 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday. "I can not", her letter said to the committee said.

The lawyer and former First Nations leader resigned on February 12 amid allegations from unnamed sources cited in a Globe and Mail story days earlier that Wilson-Raybould was pressured to intervene in the criminal prosecution of Montreal-based engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin, which is facing fraud and corruption charges related to its work in Libya.

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Wilson-Raybould has yet to confirm or deny allegations the prime minister pressured her to cut a deal with SNC-Lavalin.

Keeping the conversations with Roussel private protects information that could affect the ongoing criminal case against SNC-Lavalin over allegations they bribed Libyan officials to secure contracts there.

Wilson-Raybould also asked that she be allowed to make an extended opening statement lasting about 30 minutes when she does appear so she can offer her best recollections of all relevant communications she had on the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The committee has heard little evidence about a third key conversation that took place on December 18, 2018, between Wilson-Raybould's Chief of Staff, Jessica Prince, and two top Prime Minister's Office staff: Chief of Staff Katie Telford and Principal Secretary Gerald Butts.

However, the chances Trudeau gets asked to testify at the committee himself fell from slim to nearly none Monday after the Liberals defeated a Tory motion asking the House of Commons to order the prime minister to appear.

The public prosecutor, Kathleen Roussel, decided in September not to allow SNC-Lavalin to take advantage of a change to the criminal code introducing remediation agreements, but as attorney general Wilson-Raybould could have overridden that decision.

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