Former federal Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from cabinet has exposed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to significant controversy and criticism in recent days. Locally, the situation is giving some insight into how this fall’s federal election campaign might unfold in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
On February 17, Conservative candidate, and former MP Pierre Lemieux issued a statement intended as a letter to the editor asking present Liberal MP Francis Drouin where he stands on the matter.
Wilson-Raybould was shuffled to Veterans Affairs Minister on January 14. Lemieux’s statement argued that she was relieved of her duties as Attorney General and Justice Minister for not agreeing to alleged interference from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), to stop corruption and fraud proceedings against engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet on February 12. Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Trudeau’s Principal Secretary and top staff member in the PMO, resigned on February 17.
“The serious allegations that Justin Trudeau and the Prime Minister’s Office politically interfered to prevent a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on corruption and fraud charges strike at the very heart of our democracy,” stated Lemieux.
In a telephone conversation with The Review, Lemieux said the issue affects residents of the riding because of how the situation affects the rule of law which applies to all Canadians.
Lemieux said that although Wilson-Raybould has been summoned to appear before the House of Commons Justice Committee for questioning, she is still limited by solicitor-client privilege which prevents her from fully disclosing most of the details.
The former MP wanted to know if Drouin believes Prime Minister Trudeau should use his authority to waive the solicitor-client privilege so Wilson-Raybould can openly discuss the full details of the alleged arrangement between the PMO and SNC-Lavalin.
Drouin responded with a written statement and said an investigation by the federal Ethics Commissioner should be allowed to do its work on the matter.
“Pierre Lemieux only wrote this because his boss, Andrew Scheer, told him to do so. As far as the SNC-Lavalin issue goes, I did not meet with SNC Lavalin and therefore, I would make an uninformed comment about this. I will not pontificate on speculations. The NDP opposition asked for an investigation from the Ethics Commissioner which I support. I will let the Commissioner do his job. I have full confidence in the Commissioner and his non-partisan approach to this issue,” stated Drouin.
Although Wilson-Raybould was approved as a witness to appear before the Justice Committee, Gerald Butts was not approved to appear.