Question of solicitor-client privilege comes to fore in SNC-Lavalin controversy

13 February, 2019, 04:43 | Author: Sally Reid
  • Jody Wilson-RaybouldAdrian Wyld  THE CANADIAN PRESS

"This make-believe cosmetic baloney that Trudeau's engaged in has proven itself now to be a farce", Bill Wilson told CBC host Vassy Kapelos.

But in a letter to the prime minister announcing her resignation on Tuesday, Ms Wilson-Raybould said that she is "aware that many Canadians wish for me to speak on matters that have been in the media over the last week". "This work must and will carry on".

"Canada's Ethics Commissioner agrees there are sufficient grounds to begin an independent investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his office for the alleged special treatment they gave SNC-Lavalin", said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Since then, the relationship between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould has been headed for the rocks.

Trudeau's comments came shortly after federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion confirmed he has launched an investigation into the allegation the PMO improperly tried to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

The Globe reports that Wilson-Raybould resisted that pressure.

I've asked our current minister of justice and attorney general to make recommendations to me on the question of solicitor-client privilege.

He says he continues to have "full confidence" in Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was demoted to the veterans-affairs portfolio in a January cabinet shuffle. In her resignation letter she alludes to the controversy and said she is looking to determine what she can and can't say about it.

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"They perpetuate colonial-era, sexist stereotypes that Indigenous women can not be powerful, forthright, and steadfast in positions of power, but rather confrontational, meddling and egotistic".

Trudeau has lost a unique voice in cabinet, especially on issues that are keenly important to British Columbians, said Ginger Gosnell-Myers, an Indigenous rights researcher and a former Aboriginal relations manager for the City of Vancouver.

When she was first sworn into Cabinet in 2015, she was heralded as the first indigenous justice minister, a symbolic milestone for Canada's indigenous people and a sign of Mr Trudeau's commitment to reconciliation.

While this is not a huge surprise, given her well-documented discontent with her demotion from Justice Minister and Attorney General to Veterans Affairs earlier this year, it is nonetheless a major development in the whole SNC-Lavalin saga.

Is it improper for the prime minister to make his political concerns known to the attorney general, a fellow politician and cabinet minister?

Sheila North, the former grand chief of the northern Manitoba chiefs' organization Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, said the government has lost a valued, well-regarded member of the Indigenous community.

Wilson-Raybould, who plans to stay on as MP for Vancouver-Granville, has been quiet since the original Globe and Mail story broke, saying she can't comment because she's bound by solicitor-client privilege.

He said he's "concerned about the many unanswered questions" surrounding Wilson-Raybould's resignation and added that this is "echoed by many First Nations across the country".

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