Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer responds to reporters questions, Wednesday, March 6, 2019 while visiting a supporter in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Scheer urges Trudeau to let Wilson-Raybould speak further on SNC-Lavalin affair

MPs are to hold an emergency session of the House of Commons justice committee on Wednesday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must lift a “gag order” and ensure Jody Wilson-Raybould can speak the full truth about her decision to leave cabinet, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Sunday.

The SNC-Lavalin controversy has exposed a crisis of moral and ethical leadership in Trudeau’s office, Scheer said at a news conference in Ottawa, adding an online campaign is underway to support Wilson-Raybould.

“Justin Trudeau must let her speak,” he said.

MPs are to hold an emergency session of the House of Commons justice committee on Wednesday and Wilson-Raybould has previously said she would be willing to return to provide additional testimony.

Scheer said Liberal MPs on the committee need to support Wilson-Raybould coming back to shed additional light on the scandal, suggesting if they do not, it would suggest the prime minister “has something to hide.”

“Previously, it was only after intense pressure that Liberal MPs on the justice committee allowed this investigation to start, and only after intense pressure from Canadians did Justin Trudeau even partially allow Ms. Wilson-Raybould to speak,” Scheer said.

“We’re hoping that this campaign will have the same effect — that the pressure will force Justin Trudeau to allow her to come and testify.”

Wilson-Raybould previously told the justice committee she was subjected to relentless, inappropriate pressure to stop the trial of the engineering giant on bribery and fraud charges related to contracts in Libya.

Trudeau partly waived solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality so Wilson-Raybould could speak publicly, but not about communication with Kathleen Roussel, the director of public prosecutions.

Last week, Trudeau’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts testified that he believed no one from the Prime Minister’s Office had done anything wrong.

Butts also said that Wilson-Raybould never complained about improper pressure to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin until Trudeau decided to move her out of her cabinet role as justice minister.

Scheer said Sunday it is clear the “real Justin Trudeau” is being exposed to Canadians, adding that the prime minister is not displaying good leadership.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office acknowledged Trudeau had ”emotional” conversations with Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, but denied her claims the encounters were “hostile” or that Trudeau yelled at her.

READ MORE: SNC-Lavalin’s court loss shifts spotlight to Trudeau’s new attorney

READ MORE: PMO denies Trudeau was hostile toward Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Caesar-Chavannes told the Globe and Mail in an interview that Trudeau was angry when she told him on Feb. 12 of her plans to announce she was not running in the October federal election.

She alleges he yelled at her in that conversation and she responded by shouting back at him, however she added the prime minister later apologized.

Caesar-Chavannes also detailed another encounter with Trudeau in the House of Commons a week later, in which she describes him as acting hostile toward her.

The various allegations make it clear the “false presentation” that Trudeau has presented to Canadians is “falling apart,” Scheer said.

“I note that time and time again when he’s accused of improper behaviour, whether it is pressure or how he handles people in these types of situations, his only defence is that other people experience things differently.”

—with files from Teresa Wright

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press


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