On SNC-Lavalin, Justin Trudeau’s silence isn’t going to help

Trudeau in ethics probe over handling of Libyan contract fraud

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

The commissioner is limited from saying much else until the examination is complete, but the statement does confirm this is in regards to the allegations in the Globe and Mail that the PMO attempted to pressure the now-former justice minister to cut a deal with SNC-Lavalin in order to drop criminal charges against the company.

"For folks who are puzzled by Ms Raybould's, Wilson-Raybould's, decision to step down, they can add me to the list", he said. She was demoted from the post of justice minister last month. And it left Trudeau's reconciliation agenda with Canada's Indigenous Peoples in tatters.

Wilson-Raybould said in a letter to Trudeau earlier in the day she was leaving "with a heavy heart" but gave no reasons.

Newly appointed Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould poses for a photo with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during Trudeau's cabinet shuffle in Ottawa on January 14.

"It has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power".

The Assembly of First Nations British Columbia regional chief is acclaimed as the Liberal Party of Canada's candidate to run in the 2015 federal election for the riding of Vancouver-Granville.

During a high-level speech in B.C.to an audience including the province's premier, the provincial cabinet and Indigenous leaders, Wilson-Raybould again showed her frustrations with the Liberal government's reconciliation efforts. Trudeau informed the rest of his cabinet Tuesday morning about her decision.




"In our system of government, of course, her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself", he said following an event in Vancouver - one that Wilson-Raybould didn't attend, unlike a handful of fellow Liberals from the city. Whatever it is, it's an attack on Wilson-Raybould's integrity and it's not a strategy that's going to do him any favours as this rotten onion continues to unravel.

"I'm sorry to see any colleague leave cabinet", said Goodale, federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, before referring any further comment to a statement expected from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later Tuesday afternoon. "Transformative change and new directions are required", she said. However, most notably, nowhere in her resignation letter did she thank the Prime Minister. "Clearly, there is something more than he has been forthcoming with".

Wilson-Raybould's letter does not say exactly why she's quitting.

"She confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone", Trudeau said.

The Trudeau government passed a law previous year which allows for remediation agreements in cases of corporate corruption, wherein a company pays reparations but does not wind up with a criminal conviction that would bar it from bidding on government contracts, potentially throwing thousands of employees out of work.

SNC-Lavalin lobbied the government, including senior officials in Trudeau's office, for an out-of-court settlement that would include paying a fine and agreeing to put in place compliance measures.

Trudeau says he looking into requests for him to waive solicitor-client privilege.

Opposition MPs, including Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, have urged the Liberal-dominated committee to support the calls for a study. "I only wish that I could have served you longer", she writes.

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