OTTAWA — Liberal MPs have used their majority on the House of Commons justice committee to shut down an opposition attempt to call Jody Wilson-Raybould to testify again on the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Shortly after the meeting convened, the Liberal committee members abruptly voted to adjourn, with Conservatives and New Democrats shouting out epithets like “Cover-up!” and “Despicable!”
“What a shame,” said Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre. “You should be ashamed.”
Today’s meeting came about at the request of opposition members, who wanted the former justice minister and attorney general to appear again to answer claims made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former top aide Gerald Butts.
They were able to force the committee to meet, but couldn’t control what happened when it did. According to committee rules, a motion to adjourn takes precedence over anything else the committee might do.
Wilson-Raybould quit the federal cabinet in mid-February as controversy raged over pressure she says she faced from Butts and others last fall to head off a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin over alleged bribery and fraud it used to seek contracts in Libya.
When he testified, Butts put the dispute down to a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Poilievre said it wasn’t fair that Butts got to speak about things that happened between the time Wilson-Raybould was shuffled to Veterans Affairs in January and the day she quit cabinet a month later, while the former minister herself felt bound by cabinet secrecy obligations.
Trudeau could have freed her to speak openly, he said.
“He sent in his majority to shut down that discussion without a debate and ensure that Canadians will never know the truth,” Poilievre said after the abrupt end of the meeting.
“If they were going to let her speak, they could have done it today … Justin Trudeau is transforming the justice committee into the Justin committee.”
New Democrat MP Tracey Ramsey said Trudeau himself has benefited from what she called a double standard.
“We’ve heard the prime minister speak very freely about a period of time that Ms. Wilson-Raybould has not been able to speak about,” Ramsey said.
“Today, (Liberals) signalled to Canadians that they aren’t interested in the truth.”