Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has revealed a litany of efforts to interfere in the Crown's continued prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges.
In a statement to the Commons justice committee, the Vancouver Granville MP identified several officials in the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who contacted either her or her former chief of staff, Jessica Prince.
Wilson-Raybould also delved into details of communications from privy council clerk Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and a member of Morneau's staff, Ben Chin, who was once Christy Clark's press secretary.
Wilson-Raybould felt it was "inapproprate" that some of these approaches referred to the Quebec election and the fact that Trudeau is an MP from Quebec.
At at September 17 meeting with the prime minister, according to Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau immediately raised the issue of the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. She said that he mentioned the possible loss of jobs and the company leaving the province as a result of the decision not to seek a deferred prosecution agreement.
"The PM again cited potential loss of jobs and SNC moving," she added. "Then to my surprise—the clerk started to make the case for the need to have a DPA—he said 'there is a board meeting on Thursday (Sept 20) with stock holders. They will likely be moving to London if this happens. And there is an election in Quebec soon.
"At that point the PM jumped in stressing that there is an election in Quebec," she continued, "and that 'and I am an MP in Quebec—the member for Papineau'.”
Wilson-Raybould said that she looked the prime minister in the eye and asked if he was politically interfering in her role as the attorney general. She also said she told Trudeau that she strongly advised him against doing that.
Trudeau's reply, she added, was "No, no, no, we just need to find a solution."
This pressure came even though Wilson-Raybould had already agreed with the director of public prosecution's decision not to proceed with deferred prosecution agreement.
Two days later, Wilson-Raybould met Wernick in her office. She said that he brought up job losses in Quebec and that it "won't help" the prime minister, given that he's a Quebec MP.
On the same day, Morneau told Wilson-Raybould in the House about the importance of preserving jobs.
"I said the engagement from him with my office on SNC had to stop," Wilson-Raybould said, noting that these entreaties were "inappropriate".
This was a "recurring theme", she said, leading up to a December 5 meeting with the prime minister's former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, and a phone call with Wernick on December 19.
Wilson-Raybould disclosed that in the December 19 conversation, Wernick said the "prime minister is in a pretty firm frame of mind about this". Moreover, Wernick said he was "worried" about what might happen because it's "not good for the prime minister and his attorney general [to be] at loggerheads".
Wernick also said, according to Wilson-Raybould, that the prime minister was "going to find a way" to get it done.
Wilson-Raybould responded that it's the prime minister's prerogative to do what he wants.
She also said that she interpreted Wernick's comments to have been made in a "threatening manner".
On January 7, Wilson-Raybould learned that from the prime minister that she was losing her position as the justice minister.
"I believe the reason was the SNC matter," she said.
Trudeau, however, said on February 15 that if Scott Brison had not resigned from cabinet, Wilson-Raybould would still be minister of justice and attorney general.
That claim was met with incredulity by some.
Wilson-Raybould ended her statement by pointing out that she has a "deeply ingrained commitment to the rule of law", which was forged, in part, by her experiences as a prosecutor in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a lawyer, and the values she was taught by her family.
She pointed out that in the past when the rule of law was not followed, it led to tremendous problems for Indigenous peoples.
Both Conservative MP and NDP MP Murray Rankin assured Wilson-Raybould that they believed every word she said in her opening statement.
"I sought in my testimony today to state facts," Wilson-Raybould said in reply to Rankin. "I came to the conclusion and throughout the four months that there was a consistent and sustained effort and attempt to politically interfere with my discretion as the attorney general of Canada. It was inappropriate."
She also said that she couldn't divulge why she stepped down from cabinet.
On a separate matter, Wilson-Raybould decribed Prince, her former chief of staff, as an "extraordinary human being and extraordinary lawyer".
Wilson-Raybould also claimed that the prime minister's chief of staff, Katie Telford, once promised to Prince that her office could help Wilson-Raybould if she felt nervous about seeking an outside legal opinion to review the decision of the director of public prosecutions to prosecute SNC-Lavalin.
In fact, Wilson-Raybould testified, Telford told Prince that "we would line up all sorts of people to write op-eds saying what she was doing was proper."
You can hear more about that conversation in the tweet below.More