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Trudeau Won’t Say If Jody Wilson-Raybould Will Stay Part Of Liberal Caucus

He's giving "some thought" over her future.
Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are shown in a composite image.
Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are shown in a composite image.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is still giving "some thought" on whether Jody Wilson-Raybould can remain a member of the Liberal caucus after her explosive testimony to the justice committee on the SNC-Lavalin affair.

"I have taken knowledge of her testimony and there are still reflections to have on next steps," Trudeau told reporters in Saint-Hubert, Que. Thursday when asked directly if Wilson-Raybould, his former attorney general and justice minister, can stay in the Liberal fold much longer.

Over more than three hours of testimony a day earlier, Wilson-Raybould said she faced four months of "consistent and sustained" pressure when she was attorney general, including "veiled threats," to help SNC-Lavalin secure a remediation agreement to avoid a trial on corruption charges.

Watch: Wilson-Raybould speaks to reporters after testimony at justice committee

Wilson-Raybould said she faced "inappropriate" pressure from Trudeau, his top staffers, Canada's top public servant, and the finance minister's office. She testified that conversations around this issue dealt not just with possible job losses at the Quebec engineering giant but political considerations, such as an election in the province and Trudeau's status as a Quebec MP.

She also said that she believes she was shuffled from her justice portfolio to veterans affairs in January, widely seen as a demotion, because she refused to cave on the matter. Wilson-Raybould quit that post earlier this month.

The prime minister said Wednesday that he "completely disagrees" with Wilson-Raybould's version of events and said he and staffers in the Prime Minister's Office acted "appropriately and professionally."

On Thursday, Trudeau again said that his January shuffle was only because then-Treasury Board President Scott Brison, a senior minister around the cabinet table, decided to leave politics.

"As I've said before and allow me to say it again, had Scott Brison not stepped down, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be attorney general and minister of justice today," he said.

PM touts ethics watchdog's investigation

Trudeau said that on the SNC-Lavalin issue, there were "many and broad conversations about the importance of defending jobs," something he says Canadians expect of their government. Those conversations respected the rule of law and independence of the justice system, he maintained.

Trudeau noted the federal ethics commissioner has launched an investigation into the controversy, suggesting that the watchdog will clear up whether he or Wilson-Raybould are telling the truth.

"Canadians need to know that we have an officer of Parliament who is tasked with a specific role to make sure that in questions where there are disagreements amongst politicians, amongst elected officials, there is an arbiter who is empowered to be like a judge... who will make a determination in this issue," he said.

"So while political parties and various people are... trying to draw a lot of attention to this issue, there is a process both at the justice committee and indeed at the ethics commissioner that will make a determination on what actually happened here."

Federal Conservatives have called on Trudeau to resign over the issue, while New Democrats are again demanding a full public inquiry. Tory Leader Andrew Scheer said Wednesday that Wilson-Raybould's testimony proves Trudeau has lost the "moral authority" to govern.

MPs will hold an emergency debate on the SNC-Lavalin affair in the House of Commons Thursday evening.

After her testimony, Wilson-Raybould was also asked by reporters if she can stay on as a member of the Liberal caucus.

"I am proud to be the member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville," she said. "I was elected as a Liberal member of Parliament and that hasn't changed."

Asked what it would mean if she is kicked out of caucus, Wilson-Raybould replied that she doesn't anticipate such a result.

I was elected as a Liberal member of Parliament and that hasn't changed.Jody Wilson-Raybould

"I was elected by the constituents of Vancouver Granville to represent them as a Liberal member of Parliament," she said.

During her time before the committee, Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault asked Wilson-Raybould if she still has confidence in the prime minister.

"I'm not going to get into any conversations about why I resigned other than to say this. I resigned from cabinet because I did not have confidence to sit around the cabinet table," Wilson-Raybould said.


With a file from The Canadian Press

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