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We will be underway shortly at the justice committee. @Puglaas to give a 30-minute opening statement followed by a Q&A with MPs. Watch this space.
@Puglaas You haven't missed a thing. Votes in the House have pushed back the start time of the committee.
JWR has taken her seat around the committee table. A lot of media interest, as you can imagine.
Here we go.
Justice committee chair Anthony Housefather says he will give JWR 30 minutes to speak — which he concedes is highly unusual as most opening statements are no more than 5 or 10 minutes. He says while they've agreed, this won't be standard practice.
NDP MP Murray Rankin asks if there's a written statement that could be disseminated to committee members. He wants the written word
JWR has submitted a statement to the committee. It's only in English. Bloc MP Rheal Fortin, who is not formally a member, wants it in French, too. There hasn't been time to translate. No matter, they press on.
JWR has begun.
JWR says for a period of four months between September and December 2018 she faced "an inappropriate effort" from government officials to seek a DPA with SNC-Lavalin.
She says she faced "veiled threats" from people within government to sign a DPA with SNC-Lavalin.
JWR says she has contemporaneous notes and has a "clear memory" of the threats to sign a DPA with SNC-Lavalin.
JWR says AG has prosecutorial discretion — these are not cabinet decisions. It is appropriate for colleagues to draw to AG's attention important "policy decisions" *but* she says it's inappropriate to press the AG for "partisan political considerations."
She says there were 10 phone calls and 10 in-person meetings where she faced pressure on the SNC-Lavalin file.
Our story starts on Sept. 4, JWR says. It was then that the director of public prosecutions made it clear to her, as AG, federal lawyers would not be negotiating a DPA with SNC-Lavalin.
Ben Chin, Bill Morneau's chief of staff, arranged a meeting with JWR's chief and said via e-mail: "If they don't get a DPA they will leave Montreal and it's the Quebec election right now so we can't have that happen," Chin said of SNC-Lavalin.
To this point, the pressure is largely coming from Chin. On Sept. 16, JWR's chief of staff then speaks to the Bouchard and Marques in the PMO.
JWR says she believed it was inappropriate for her to intervene, as AG, in this case and that it was best to leave it with the director of public prosecutions.
On Sept. 17, JWR had a one-on-one meeting with the PM. Clerk Michael Wernick was in the room (as he said). PMJT raised the issue of SNC-Lavalin immediately, she says.
JWR says PMJT asked her to "help out" with the SNC-Lavalin case. She told him she had already made up her mind and she would not interfere. The PM "reiterated his concerns," JWR says.
"I was not prepared to issue a directive in this case," JWR says she told Trudeau. PM cited the potential for the loss of jobs and a possible move of SNC-Lavalin's headquarters from Montreal to London (presumably UK?)
She then asked him directly if he was telling her what to do on this file. "No, no, we just need to find a solution," JWR says PMJT said.
JWR told the PM right there and then that it would be inappropriate for him to tell her what to do on this file.
JWR said her chief had a phone call with Bouchard and Marques after the meeting with PM and the clerk. "We don't have a ton of time," they told the chief (in reference to the impending Que. election.)
(forgot to mention, PM is said to have told JWR during the one-on-one: "I am a member in Quebec, a member in Papineau," referencing his Montreal-area riding.)
JWR says after the one-on-one she had conversations with Bill Morneau in the House of Commons. He reminded her of the potential for job loss. She told him it was inappropriate for him to be commenting on the matter.
Oct 26, 2018: JWR's chief speaks with Mathieu Bouchard (PM's special advisor on Quebec issues) and tells him that JWR would not be intervening now that public prosecution was clearly moving toward a trial. Bouchard still pressing for a DPA
Bouchard said SNC-Lavalin could not fold six months before a federal election. "We can have the best policy in the world but we need to get re-elected," he said.
"I was irritated to have the meeting because I had already told the prime minister a DPA was not going to happen," JWR says of a face-to-face meeting she had with Bouchard and Elder Marques. "They needed to stop. This was enough."
"In my view the communications and efforts to change my mind on this matter should have stopped. Various officials urged me to take partisan political considerations into account when it was clear improper for me to do," Wilson-Raybould says.
"The persistent and enduring efforts ... raise serious red flags in my view. Yet, this is what continued to happen," Wilson-Raybould said. She was there was a "barrage of people hounding me and my staff."
JWR then meets with @gmbutts at the Chateau. Butts told her "they needed to find a solution" on the SNC-Lavalin matter.
JWR receives a letter from the PM on Dec. 6. She responds telling him, again, that the decision was for the director of public prosecutions to make.
Then, Jessica Prince, JWR's chief of staff, is summoned to a meeting with Katie Telford and Gerry Butts. They wanted to know where JWR "is at" on the SNC-Lavalin matter.
JWR reads a text message exchange between her and her chief, Prince. Prince tells her that Butts said "of course" there would be a degree of interference.
Telford is said to have said "If Jody is nervous ... we will line up all kinds of people to write op-eds" to say JWR was acting appropriately.
PCO clerk Michael Wernick told JWR that the PM was "determined" on this file.
JWR say she warned the clerk (Wernick) that they were "treading on dangerous ground here." She told him she couldn't be politically motivated or act in a partisan way, as attorney general.
Wernick said the PM was "worried." "It's not good for the prime minister and his AG to be at loggerheads," Wernick said.
"I'm trying to protect the PM from political interference," she told Wernick. "The PM doesn't have the power to do what we wants - the tools are in your hands," Wernick said.
On Jan. 7, JWR say she received a call from PM telling her she was being shuffled.
"I believe it was because of the SNC matter," JWR says. They (the PMO) denied it, she said.
She says her conversation with Wernick at the end of December, before she was shuffled, reminded her of the "Saturday night massacre." For background: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_…
"It has always been my view that the AG should be non-partisan ... and always willing to speak truth to power," JWR says.
"I am of course a lawyer, I was a prosecutor on the downtown eastside of Vancouver as a trained professional and committed to certain values ... my understanding of the rule of law has also been shaped by experience as an Indigenous person," JWR says.
JWR says Canada often failed to uphold the rule of law in its relationship with Indigenous peoples. "When I pledged to serve Canadians ... I came to it with a deeply ingrained commitment to the rule of law."
Questions begin with @lraitt
"I believe every word you said today," Raitt says to JWR
JWR says she cannot speak about conversations after Jan. 14 (when she was sworn in as veterans affairs minister), because of the restrictions of the order in council
Do you belief you were removed as AG because of SNC-Lavalin proseuction? "I am going to have to be very careful what I say," JWR says.
"I was concerned that the reason why I was being shuffled ... was because of a decision I would not take on SNC and the DPA. I raised those concerns with the PM and Gerry Butts. Those were denied," JWR says.
Are you concerned the independence of the office of the AG has been eroded? "When I was the AG, through these 4 months ... Leaving aside the inappropriate pressure ... I was confident in my role as the AG. That I was the final decision maker."
"I had concerned when I was removed as AG that this potentially might not be the case. I decided that I would embrace this new role (of minister of veterans affairs) but I had concerns," JWR says.
"... and I knew that in my new role, still sitting around the cabinet table, if there was a directive placed in the Gazette I would have resigned immediately from cabinet," she says (that is, if new AG went ahead with a DPA for SNC-Lavalin.)
When did you start feeling uncomfortable? Sept. 17 meeting with the PM when he brought up the possibility for the DPA.
"The conversation turned to be completely inappropriate when there was discussion about the Quebec election and the fact that the PM was a MP from Quebec around a prosecution," JWR says
"It was at that point that I immediately became concerned and because I was the AG sought to have a conversation with the PM about the law and the role of the AG and the necessity of independence they must have in exercise their discretion, in this case," JWR says.
After the Sept. 17 meeting with the PM, she instructed staff to take notes about all SNC-related conversations.
JWR says, "It's OK to talk about job losses ... but when those topics continue to be brought up after a decision has been made, it becomes inappropriate."
JWR says she has an incredibly close relationship with her chief (or had.) Also had close relationship with judicial affairs advisor. "Whenever my chief has a convo., she takes notes and immediately relays the convo to me especially when there are concerns."
The minister of finance's office, namely Ben Chin, reached out to JWR on the SNC-Lavalin matter.
"What I've heard today should make all Canadians very upset," former law prof turned NDP MP Murray Rankin says. "I very much admire your courage."
"There was a sustained, consistent effort to interfere politically with the critical role the AG must play in our justice system," Rankin says after hearing JWR's testimony and her info. about the 10 phone calls and 10 meetings.
How can Canadians, if they believe you, draw any other conclusion that there was an attempt to politically interfere with your role? Rankin asks. "I think the question is somewhat rhetorical," JWR says.
"I came to the conclusion that there was sustained effort to politically interfere with my discretion as the attorney general of Canada. It was inappropriate," JWR says.
"There appears to be direct link between [SNC-Lavalin] and your removal," Rankin says. Why didn't you change your mind on SNC-Lavalin?
JWR says she didn't change her mind and didn't force a DPA because "I conducted my own due diligence around the appropriateness of entering into a DPA with SNC. I had the benefit of feedback and briefings with department officials."
"For those people who know me, my decision-making process takes into consideration many views and I welcome many views on public policy ... but as AG you make decisions with your judicial hat on, leaving aside political considerations or otherwise," JWR says.
"It was inappropriate to interfere with the discretion of the director of public prosecutions," JWR says. "I was not going to change my mind."
Liberal MP Jennifer O'Connell asks if JWR told Butts about the "constant pressure" she was facing about SNC-Lavalin.
JWR says she won't comment on her relationship with Butts. But she says it was the PM that recruited her (aka not Butts.)
"There were sustained efforts from various members of the PMO including Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques ... it would not have been a secret (to Butts) that there were concerns I had," JWR says.
O'Connell asks why didn't she raise her concerns directly with Butts. "I absolutely communicated in September to the prime minister of the country the concerns I had," she says.
"When the sustained efforts of political interference continued ... I reiterated (to Gerry in the Dec. meeting) the inappropriateness and that it had to stop," JWR says.
"Most of the conversations I had with the PMO at the highest level, with Katie or Gerry, would be with Gerry Butts," JWR says.
O'Connell asks if JWR spoke with PM again (after the Sept. 17 meeting) about the inappropriate pressure, JWR says she didn't speak directly with the PM again until Jan. 7.
"I do not believe it is inappropriate to have conversations about job losses ... in the early stages," JWR says. "What is inappropriate is the long sustained discussions about the job losses after it is very clear that I had made my decision and would not pursue a DPA," JWR says.
JWR said Wernick told her that the PM was "dug in" on the issue. "In my mind they were veiled threats and I took them as such. That is entirely inappropriate," JWR says.
JWR asked the PM a direct question - after he mentioned the Quebec election and that he was MP for Papineau in the Sept. 17 meeting - if he was ordering her to take a certain course. He said "No, no, no, that's not what I'm doing," JWR says.
Liberal Ruby Sahota (who, like, O'Connell is not a regular member of the committee) asks clerk's testimony. "The PM raised SNC and DPAs at the outset of the meeting," JWR says. (Wernick had said that the meeting was mostly about the Indigenous rights framework.)
JWR says "alarm bells" went off when Wernick mentioned the SNC-Lavalin board meeting and the Quebec election and when the PM said he was the MP for Papineau when they were questioning her about negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement.
"I was aware of the potential for job losses," JWR says. "At the time I didn't see it as being entirely inappropriate. Ministers of the Crown can approach the AG—where it became inappropriate was the sustained discussions after I had made my decision and made my decision known."
Raitt asks if, when speaking to Gerry and Katie, do they speak for the PM? Yes, JWR says.
Is it fair to say that you suffered from repeated communications with the intent of changing your mind? Raitt asks. "That's fair to say," JWR says.
Butts told you to "find a solution." Katie Telford said she didn't want to "debate legalities anymore" and clerk issued "veiled threats" ... was there an intention to make you fear for your job, is that a fair assumption? Raitt asks.
JWR says she won't speak for others but she said she had a very "heightened level of anxiety," and told Wernick on that last December call that "she was waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Do you think the purpose of the comments was to put pressure on you? "I am confident that the purpose of those discussions (with Wernick) were to put extraordinary pressure on me to change my mind," JWR says.
Who told you you were going to be moved to veterans affairs? "I had a conversation with the PM on Jan. 7 and he spoke to me about me being shuffled out ... provided rationale which I won't get in to."
JWR told PM she thought this was because it was about SNC-Lavalin. HE denied it. She also told Butts that. Butts said "Are you questioning the integrity of the PM?" JWR said nothing in return.
Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi gets JWR to state on the record that she voted for the last budget - Bill C-74 - which included provisions that created DPA. Alternative to prosecutions isn't novel is it? JWR says she's aware other countries have them.
Ehasassi says other countries have DPAs. "I am not going to make further comments on DPAs. I recognize my responsibilities as a MP. I recognize there are two court cases that are currently in play," JWR says.
There were extensive consultations on this issue, no? "There were consultations," JWR says (dropping the "extensive.")
JWR says Bouchard and Marques asked her to seek outside legal counsel on DPAs. She told them she was firm in being against that. She said hiring outside legal counsel, on this matter, was "entirely inappropriate."
"We would engage with external counsel ... but my role as the minister of justice, shepherding legislation through the House of Commons, is entirely separate from my role as AG," JWR says when pressed about her dept.'s use of outside legal counsel on other matters.
How did you feel at the end of this? There must be disappointment, Raitt says. "I have serious concerns about how things are reported. I have concerns about what people generally call smear campaigns. It makes me very sad when ... my work is impugned publicly."
"I was sad when I was shuffled out," JWR says, she adds any lawyer would want to be the AG.
Did gov't implement DPAs because of SNC? JWR says there discussions at cabinet about creating "a new tool for prosecutors," there were "peripheral comments about SNC but it wasn't the heart of our discussions."
Rankin asks about PM's comment on Feb. 12 that if JWR felt pressured she should have told him.
Isn't that a misleading statement by the PM? Rankin asks. "I'm not going to speak to comments PM ... I believe the chronology and the facts I presented here speaks for itself."
Rankin asks about Dec. 19 call with Wernick when he said PM is "in that kind of mood." JWR says she had a heightened level of anxiety. "This was the top of that escalation (of pressure)," JWR says.
JWR thought the clerk invoking the PM's name was "acting in a threatening matter."
Given testimony today, were you approached by the PM or PMO about the Mark Norman trial? I am not a liberty to discuss.
Raitt asks if JWR would come back to the committee if she is released from other cabinet confidences? She would, she says.
(This should read manner.)
Raitt asks about former chief of staff Jessica Prince. Did she have fear about whether she'd have a job as chief of staff if she didn't convince you to review the decision? "In my conversations with her ... she was quite upset after the meeting."
"She is an extraordinary human-being and an extraordinary lawyer," JWR says of Jessica Prince.
Chiefs of staff are hired and fired by PMO, right? "I am not going to comment on the interactions between my office and the PMO."
Liberal MP Iqra Khalid up next. Why didn't JWR speak out to the PM about her concerns re: SNC-Lavalin?
"I completely reject your characterization ... that I do not have regard for other people's opinions. I don't apologize for being vocal about my opinions that's not to say I don't value other people opinions."
"I will not apologize for being a strong Indigenous advocate," JWR says. "I appreciate to hear other peoples opinions."
"I had direct conversations with him and people in his office," JWR says of the PM.
(JWR slaps Khalid down there a bit for what might be perceived as her patronising tone about speaking JWR out about Indigenous issues.)
JWR says there was "successive and sustained comments about jobs" that became inappropriate.
The veiled threats came on Dec. 18 and Dec. 19 "but there were many occasions when the appropriateness line was crossed," JWR says.
JWR said her decision not to issue a DPA came before the Sept. 17 meeting with PM. She shouldn't have been reminded of the Quebec election after she made that decision, she says.
"I had a high level of anxiety," JWR says after the many phone calls and face-to-face meetings.
Should we hear from the other officials you referred to? "I believe it is important to hear from as many individuals that have direct connections or interactions in this case," JWR says.
"Which is why ... I don't want to say pleased ... why I am fine to be here having this conversation. I know it's important for me to put the facts before this committee," JWR says.
Rankin says "we have more work to do as a result of your testimony." Thanks JWR for appearing.
Next up Liberal MP @R_Boissonnault.
Boissonnault says JWR is well-known as a "texter." Did you express concerns to Gerry Butts via text? "I can't think of one off the top of my head."
Boissonnault asks if she spoke with Katie Telford (Trudeau's chief of staff) about SNC-Lavalin? Not that I recall, JWR says.
Did you not have an obligation to raise (this pressure) with the PM? "I did raise the inappropriateness of the conversations with many individuals within the PMO ... and the PM on Jan. 7.."
Boissonnault asks about JWR accepting veterans affairs job. "You reaffirmed your confidence in the confidence, is that the case?" JWR says she was honoured to as VA minister. "I embraced it."
JWR says she would have resigned from cabinet if new AG did go ahead with a DPA.
"I decided to take on the role that the PM offered me. I decided I would take the PM at his word. I trusted him. I had confidence in and so I decided to continue on around the cabinet table with the concerns that I had," JWR says.
Do you have confidence in the PM? She says she resigned from cabinet because she didn't have confidence
(She doesn't quite specify whether that's no confidence in PM or no confidence in cabinet - but I surmise it doesn't really matter.)
Boissonnault asks what prosecutors take into account when considering criminal prosecution. Public interest is one, right? Yes that's a consideration, JWR says.
JWR says, yes, prosecutors can continually reevaluate whether to prosecute a crime.
Boissonnault says SNC employs 9,000 people and is responsible for thousands of pensioners. Did you not consider that when you decided not to sign a DPA? JWR says she doesn't want to speak about this - treading on dangerous ground.
Boissonnault pushes the point. Shouldn't you consider jobs? Isn't that public interest? JWR says she won't speak about national interest and SNC, asks chair to intervene.
(Sorry for people just tuning in to the SNC-Lavalin affair - a DPA is a deferred prosecution agreement. Read more here: cbc.ca/news/politics/… and consume this: cbc.ca/news/what-is-d…)
Boissonnault asks again about jobs and the public interest. She reiterates her point: an AG can consider this and weigh it *but* after the AG has made up his/her mind (as she did in September) it's inappropriate to continually pressure them to make a certain decision.
Raitt asking about directives from the AG. JWR say they are rare. It would have been "extraordinary" for her, as AG, to take over prosecution in the SNC-Lavalin case.
When did Wernick learn SNC-Lavalin wasn't getting a DPA from the director of public prosecutions? She says Wernick would have learned in the Sept. 17 meeting. She went in to detail then. Wernick said, at committe, that he had learned about the decision from media reports.
"I would think it would be a very useful for this committee to look at whether ... AG and justice minister roles should be bifurcated," JWR says. She thinks AG shouldn't sit around the cabinet table.
O'Connell (Liberal) asks about debate within the public prosecution office about a DPA. Why not bring in external legal counsel? JWR said she had already made up her mind. It would have been inappropriate.
Do you still have confidence in the PM today? "I don't know how that question is relevant," JWR says. (!!!)
(Previously, JWR said, "I resigned from cabinet because I did to have confidence to sit around the cabinet table.")
JWR says as AG "she didn't live a vacuum," read the papers and new the realities of SNC-Lavalin. "I didn't need any context. I certainly didn't need four months of context."
"There wasn't an interference because I didn't let it happen. Let's be clear about that," JWR says.
"It's a sad day," Conservative MP Michael Cooper begins by saying. Asks if it was often that she received a call from Wernick (clerk of PCO). She says, no.
"A direct conversation or meeting was something that wasn't very regular," JWR says of Wernick.
Can you elaborate on the Saturday Night Massacre? JWR says it's a common reference around former U.S. president Richard Nixon. Nixon asked then-AG to dispense of a special prosecutor. AG said no and resigned, JWR says. Nixon then asked deputy AG. He also resigned.
She mentioned this to Wernick. She said she referenced this because she feared she would have to resign because she wouldn't do what had been asked of her.
NDP MP Charlie Angus is up now. Says schoolchildren will study this day in the future. Not a display of politics, but rather integrity.
JWR there was a persistent attempt to interfere with her role as AG. *but* "The integrity of our institutions hasn't evaporated," she says.
Were you being given a direct threat from Wernick? JWR says there were three occasions during that December conversation when she believes she was threatened.
(And - we're going another round of questions. JWR doesn't need a break but I might in a bit! She certainly has stamina.)
Raitt asks JWR if she believes she was moved out of cabinet because she "didn't play ball." JWR says committee members can draw their own conclusions. "I will not comment on the conclusion of committee members."
Raitt asks do you have any knowledge of the friendship between Ben Chin and VP of government relations SNC-Lavalin? JWR says no. And Butts too? JWR says she has no knowledge of that. (They all worked together in former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty's government.)
Raitt asks why JWR wasn't lobbied by SNC-Lavalin? "There was never a request."
JWR notes Minister of Finance Bill Morneau took the lead around the cabinet table on DPAs, but she was involved as justice minister, of course.
Sahota asks if all this pressure why not just resign? JWR says she didn't resign because "I was doing my job as attorney general."
Sahota asks about "Saturday Night Massacre" - why didn't you resign then if the issue was so serious? JWR says she didn't think it was her responsibility at the time to resign. She said she was upholding the rule of law.
"I did not hold back as the AG in this case," JWR says. "I always felt it appropriate to raise concerns. To engage in discussions and speak my truth to power. I did that."
"In this particular case I was entirely comfortable on Sept. 17 questioning the PM on whether he was politically interfering with SNC and DPAs. I took the PM at his word," JWR says.
(For all those watching — the PM will speak at 8 p.m. ET. We, of course, will cover.)
JWR says it would be "historic" and "unprecedented" — indeed the first time — for her to take over the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, as she says she was pressured to do.
"I have always acted with integrity, with purpose, with principle. I was doing that in my role as AG when it came to SNC-Lavalin," WR says. "I believe in Canadians to hear the words that I've spoken, and the facts that I've stated."
Is it illegal for somebody to pressure the AG to intervene in a case? In my opinion it's not illegal, JWR says, it's very inappropriate and "an attempt to compromise and impose upon an independent AG."
NDP MP Nathan Cullen: You asked for the pressure to stop? That's right, JWR says.
But pressure escalated even after you asked it stop, is that right? Cullen says. That's right, JWR says.
Why didn't you continually reassess the facts of the SNC-Lavalin case? Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi asks. JWR says she received updates on the case. She says she made her decision based on what she was told by director of public prosecutions. She was firm in her decision.
"I was not the prosecutor," JWR says.
Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi asks when did you raise concerns. She's answered this many times. But she says she voiced concerns about the pressure on a number of occasions with staff in PMO.
Here we go. Another round. They say it's the last. JWR fine to keep going but she says it's probably best to end with this and she can always come back.
Khalid is back up now with a Q. Asks again why she didn't speak to PM between September 17 meeting and December. (We've been down this road before.) JWR says she told the PM on Sept. 17 about her decision. There was a continual attempt to interfere by the PMO.
JWR says after her chief of staff had a meeting with Butts and Telford that made her upset, she was expecting a call from either the clerk or PM. That call came from Wernick on Dec. 17 and she told him again she was uncomfortable with the pressure.
JWR is asked if she believes in DPAs in principle. She said her personal opinion is not relevant. JWR says she was part of a cabinet that brought in DPAs, yes. But she says the main discussion here is the role of the director of prosecutions and their independence.
Do you think the PM has been truthful in his statements on this? She won't comment on statements.
(Conservatives are doing questioning. They have ceded their time to the Liberal members who are now the ones most interested in questioning.)
Boissonnault asks: Who did you consult with before making your decision not to go forward with a DPA? JWR doesn't want to answer says it deals with issues before the courts. OK, so how many people did you consult with? Boissonnault asks.
Boissonnault not satisfied. JWR says she's not trying to evasive. "With respect the committee should realize I was AG for the country. It would be inappropriate for me (to go into details.)"
How did you record that you had taken a final decision on a DPA for SNC-Lavalin? JWR says she took copious notes.
Boissonnault asks if the PM himself ever directed her to sign a DPA. She says no.
(So, her testimony is that while the PM didn't direct her to sign a DPA, she faced pressure and indeed "threats" by others in the PMO and the PCO to do exactly that.)
(NDP (Rankin) wants PM to further lift privilege/cabinet confidence so she can say more. He has moved a motion to that effect. We'll get to a vote shortly.)
Elizabeth May asks about Wernick's "interference." JWR says she didn't think the clerk - the most senior bureaucrat in the country - was behaving appropriately. JWR says he mentioned a company board meeting and the Quebec election when pressuring her to reach a DPA.
Erin Weir is up now! Everybody gets a turn, apparently. He asks about bifurcating AG and Justice minister roles. JWR says it would be "entirely appropriate" for committee to look at this. In UK, AG doesn't sit in cabinet.
And we're done! That's it. Now, we await Scheer.
(That was a gripping 4 hours, I must say.)
BREAKING | Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is calling on Justin Trudeau to resign.
Scheer says the RCMP must immediately open an investigation, if it hasn't already done so.
Scheer says a "systemic culture of corruption" has seeped into his office.
"The testimony Canadians have just heard from the former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould tells the story of a Prime Minister who has lost the moral authority to govern," Scheer says.
"The details are as shocking as they are corrupt: multiple veiled threats to her job if she didn’t bow to their demands. Urgings to consider the consequences on election results and shareholder value above judicial due process," Scheer says.
Scheer says there must be a criminal investigation. In his statement, Scheer said, "I was sickened and appalled by her story of inappropriate, and frankly illegal pressure brought to bear on her by the highest officials of Justin Trudeau’s government."
Scheer said Michael Wernick, the clerk of the PCO, should resign as well, he says.
When asked if there should be a motion of non-confidence and an early election, Scheer says Trudeau must step aside.
"I don't believe Canadians will accept a PM staying in office who has done this much damage to our independent rule of law," Scheer says. "This is not Canada."
Jagmeet Singh says JWR's testimony was "explosive." He says he believes her. It reinforces NDP demands for a public inquiry. "The only way to get to the bottom of this is an inquiry," he says.
"Maybe he might need to," Jagmeet Singh says when asked if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to resign.
Singh says what JWR said today "has shaken us all." "He may need to resign because of this."
So, Singh is not asking on Trudeau to resign *today* but rather to launch the public inquiry he and others have been calling for to figure out what's actually gone on. That might very well lead to his eventual resignation, Singh says.
"At this point, it's not about the jobs," Singh says.
Singh says Wernick's supposed comments are "deeply concerning"
Trudeau is up. Here we go.
PM welcomes new Liberal MP Rachel Bendayan to the caucus.
PM says it's been a difficult few weeks because there have been "internal disagreements." (That's for sure.)
PM says it was important for JWR to speak openly. "I'm glad she had the chance to do so. I strongly maintain that I and my staff always acted appropriately and professionally. I therefore completely disagree with the former AG's version of events."
PM says of course they had discussions about jobs and pensions. "My job as PM is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers. I want to be absolutely clear here — the decision around SNC-Lavalin was Ms. Wilson-Raybould's and hers alone," he says.
He says 9,000 jobs were on the line. "My job is to defend Canadian workers," PM says in French.
"As we govern and make decisions ... we will always act in the bounds of what is appropriate," PM says.
PM says ethics commissioner is investigating.
Who should Canadians believe? "I continue to maintain as i have said since day one, myself and my team we've always acted appropriately and professionally," PM says in French. "We have an ethics commissioner who is investigating."
What do you say to Scheer? "Canadians will have a clear choice to make in a few months. a Liberal Party that will always stand up for jobs and economic growth and the party of Stephen Harper and its old way of doing things."
Is JWR still welcome in the Liberal caucus? I haven't listened to all her testimony. I will do that and then have more to say, PM says.
Now an English Q. Should anybody resign? "Canadians will have a very clear choice in a few months time and what party they want to form government in a general election coming up in a few months. There will be a clear choice."
Liberals defend jobs. Conservatives are still the party of Stephen Harper, they continue to attack and divide and support only the wealthiest.
Can JWR stay in the Liberal caucus? "As you might imagine, I haven't yet had the opportunity to review her entire testimony. I will do that before making any final decisions."
Did you mention being Papineau MP? He says he stands up for jobs.
"I strong maintain as I have from the beginning that I and all my staff acted appropriately and professionally. I completely disagree with the characterization of the former attorney general of these events," PM says.
Why didn't you waive privilege/cabinet confidentiality entirely for everything? Trudeau says he took the "unprecedented step" of waiving most of it
Asked about Wernick. Civil service looks out for Canadians. "The clerk and all civil servants are very much focused on ... what is right for Canadians while defending our institutions."
That's it from Trudeau. (I have to say, he didn't look all too worried about any of this. Maintains he did nothing wrong. He was protecting jobs, etc.)
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