Trudeau says he doesn't understand why Wilson-Raybould resigned


Her refusal to deny the allegation has fuelled the controversy, triggered by a Globe and Mail report that the Prime Minister's Office leaned heavily on Wilson-Raybould to instruct the director of public prosecutions to drop criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin and pursue a negotiated remediation agreement instead.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office reportedly pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country's former justice minister and attorney general, to intervene in the case against the Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin engineering giant.

Wilson-Raybould, however, has chosen not to speak publicly on the allegations, saying she is protected by client privilege and cabinet confidentiality. She did not. Nobody did.

In her resignation letter released Tuesday morning, Wilson-Raybould said she had hired former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell to advise her on whether she can "speak on matters that have been in the media over the last week". It is a well established principle in our democracy that committees of parliamentarians are independent in the decisions they make.

"Many Canadians, including Indigenous Canadians, rightfully have questions, and that's why we are working hard on answering them, as I am doing today, highlighting that for folks who are puzzled by Ms. Wilson-Raybould's decision to step down, they can add me to the list, because I am surprised and disappointed".

Trudeau said at no point did Wilson-Raybould approach him with concerns.

Some Indigenous leaders have been critical of Trudeau's decision to demote Wilson-Raybould.

All he kept repeating - from the script given to him - was that government did its job, government is committed to upholding the integrity of the justice system and that Wilson-Raybould should have done her job last fall if she thought something was amiss.

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Wilson-Raybould served seven years as the commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission and, as Canada's attorney general for more than three years, helped reform Canada's legal approach to litigation involving First Nations and reframe the Trudeau government's approach to First Nations. This work must and will carry on. Only the Trudeau government can provide it.

Garrison Settee, grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., a group representing 30 First Nations in northern Manitoba, echoed that sentiment.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said he was "saddened" to learn about the resignation.

"We have taken directions from Canadians, particularly Indigenous Canadians, from the very beginning on the matter of reconciliation", he said.

And on Monday, Trudeau said he welcomed news that federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion has initiated his own investigation into the matter, specifically whether there's been a violation of a Conflict of Interest Act provision which prohibits a public office holder from seeking to influence a decision so as to improperly further another person's private interests.

On Wednesday, the House Of Commons justice committee will meet to discuss a separate request to call nine witnesses, including Wilson-Raybould, to testify over the claims of political interference.

"Mr. Trudeau's ethical lapses and his disastrous handling of this latest scandal have thrown his government into chaos", Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said in a statement.

Liberal MP and committee chair Anthony Housefather has indicated that he will likely support an investigation.

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