Bill Kelly: What Jody Wilson-Raybould didn’t say speaks volumes

Bill Kelly: What Jody Wilson-Raybould didn’t say speaks volumes

The Globe and Mail reported that people in Trudeau's office tried to pressure Wilson-Raybould past year to help construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a corruption trial when she was justice minister.

A Canadian minister's sudden resignation on Tuesday turned vague allegations of interference in the criminal prosecution of an engineering giant into a deepening political crisis for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals.

"Ms. Wilson-Raybould's appointment as minister of Justice and Attorney General was celebrated by many First Nations people as a tremendous accomplishment and testament to her expertise, experience and intellect", he said in an emailed statement.

In recent days, Liberal operatives have attempted to smear Wilson-Raybould's performance even though she was widely seen as a credible and competent Minister throughout her tenure.

And he reiterated that Wilson-Raybould was right in maintaining her silence due to the client-attorney privilege: "I respect her view that, due to privilege, she can't comment or add on matters recently before the media".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he was surprised and disappointed by Jody Wilson-Raybould's resignation Tuesday.

The PM's office also urged Wilson-Raybould to redirect the matter out of the courts and into the so-called "remediation agreement" which would be an alternative to a criminal trial.

The Liberals have been backsliding on their commitment to reconciliation for some time and Wilson-Raybould's resignation is just the latest manifestation, said Sheryl Lightfoot, a professor of political science, and First Nations and Indigenous studies, at UBC. And on Monday, Trudeau said he welcomed news that federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion has initiated his own investigation into the matter, specifically whether there's been a violation of a Conflict of Interest Act provision which prohibits a public office holder from seeking to influence a decision so as to improperly further another person's private interests.

SNC-Lavalin's head office in Montreal.

Wilson-Raybould shepherded legislation to allow medical assistance in dying, prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression, and to legalize cannabis.

Three years ago, when Trudeau appointed Wilson-Raybould to the AG's role, he boasted about the gender parity in his cabinet, saying: "Because it's 2015".

"Our government did its job properly and according to all the rules", he said, while upbraiding his former attorney general, if she felt otherwise, for not bringing her concerns to him directly. She goes on to thank Canadians who have supported her during her time in the federal cabinet and states she will remain as MP for Vancouver-Granville.

Meanwhile, Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan teams up with Star Blanket Cree Nation chief Michael Starr to "celebrate a historic addition" at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina.

"I'm absolutely pissed", said Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. "It doesn't help them that Wilson-Raybould's father (influential First Nations leader Bill Wilson) is calling them out on that failure".

Reporters at the Winnipeg event asked Trudeau if he supports a Justice Committee investigation, and if he will testify as Conservatives have called for.

Federal byelections will be held on February 25 in three vacant ridings - Burnaby South, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is hoping to win a seat in the House of Commons, the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe and Montreal's Outremont.

Housefather said that there has been no pressure from above to the Liberals on the committee.

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