Canada opposition leader demands PM Trudeau quit over ethics allegations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at Armour Transportation Systems in Dartmouth N.S. on Thursday

Trudeau government clears Jody Wilson-Raybould to speak to justice committee on SNC-Lavalin

The Angus Reid Institute found 66 per cent of those surveyed hold that view, with 59 per cent indicating their opinion of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has worsened since reports surfaced that Wilson-Raybould faced pressure to intervene in the prosecution of the Quebec-based engineering giant.

According to the order, the Governor General on the recommendation from the Prime Minister "authorizes the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Attorney General, and any persons who directly participated in discussions with her relating to the exercise of her authority under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act respecting the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin".

During her testimony, which drew gasps from opposition MPs and the overflow crowd of observers in the committee room, Wilson-Raybould said she believes Trudeau shuffled her out the prestigious justice portfolio in mid-January because she refused to give in to pressure - and even "veiled threats" - to order a halt to a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould wrote to Justice Committee chair Anthony Housefather on Monday requesting not to appear until as numerous "possible constraints" were removed.

Those constraints, outlined by her in the letter, include claimed solicitor-client privilege, which she says only the government can waive, and the sub judice rule, which bars parliamentarians from saying anything that could impact ongoing court cases.

She has so far invoked client-solicitor privilege to avoid answering any questions.

Wilson-Raybould said officials imposed "consistent and sustained pressure" on her from September to December past year to ensure SNC-Lavalin pay a large fine rather than go to trial.

"Canadians need to be outraged at the suggestion that politicians were putting pressure on independent agents of the Crown, independent legal officers, to try to get a better deal for well connected friends of the Liberal party", Scheer said.

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"On Sept. 17, Jody Wilson-Raybould told the prime minister and the clerk of the Privy Council in no uncertain terms she wasn't going to overrule her deputy on the matter", Raitt told CTV.

Wilson-Raybould said those exchanges prompted her to think of the so-called Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, when the US attorney general and his top deputy quit rather than obey an order from President Richard Nixon to fire an investigator probing the Watergate scandal.

- A December 19 conversation Wernick had with Wilson-Raybould in which he told her Trudeau and other ministers were "quite anxious" about the potential impact of a criminal conviction on the financial viability of SNC-Lavalin and on innocent employees, shareholders, pensioners and third-party suppliers who would suffer as a result.

Wilson-Raybould hasn't yet confirmed the time. The agreement would have allowed the company to pay reparations but avoid a criminal trial on charges of corruption and bribery.

The Conservative leader also called for Wernick to resign and encouraged the Liberal cabinet, which is scheduled to present a federal budget next month, to find a way to govern the country in a non-partisan way without the prime minister.

Some of her former cabinet colleagues seemed relieved Tuesday that whatever complaint Wilson-Raybould may have about the way the SNC-Lavalin matter was handled, it will finally be out in the open after weeks of shadow boxing with anonymous sources. Wernick said he was informing the minister of "context" surrounding her decision on the company but insisted it was not inappropriate pressure.

It has pushed unsuccessfully for a remediation agreement, and the Trudeau government has been plunged into controversy over accusations it improperly pressured the former attorney general to make an agreement happen.

The Liberals don't appear ready to support the Conservative motion to call Trudeau to testify.

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