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Vancouver’s Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet

Vancouver-Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, who had been minister of veterans affairs, announced that she was leaving cabinet in a letter dated February 12 and tweeted out this morning.

Her tweet said “with a heavy heart I have submitted my letter of resignation to the Prime Minister as a member of Cabinet.”

Wilson-Raybould has been in the spotlight recently after the Globe and Mail published allegations from unnamed sources, who said that people in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office had tried to pressure Wilson-Raybould, when she was minister of justice, to direct the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSOC) to abandon its court case that alleged fraud against Canadian multinational infrastructure giant SNC Lavalin. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of being minister of justice on January 14, but kept in cabinet as the new minister of veterans affairs – a post that many saw as being a demotion.

In her letter, she referenced the “matters that have been in the media over the last week,” and said that she had retained the services of the Honorable Thomas Albert Cromwell, as counsel.

Cromwell is a former Supreme Court of Canada justice and he works out of the Vancouver and Ottawa offices of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.  He spoke to Business in Vancouver last year about his life after being on Canada’s top court.

Trudeau has repeatedly said that the Globe and Mail story is not true and that neither he nor others in his office directed Wilson-Raybould to tell the PPSOC to abandon its case against SNC Lavalin. He did not, however, explicitly say at the time that there was no pressure for her to do so. 

Wilson-Raybould released a statement saying that she was bound by solicitor-client privilege and could not comment on the allegations. That spurred opposition party leaders to call on Trudeau to waive that privilege and allow Wilson-Raybould to speak freely.

Trudeau, yesterday, while in Metro Vancouver, said that he had met with Wilson-Raybould during his visit and that both of them recalled a meeting when he had told her that the decision on whether to tell the PPSOC to abandon its lawsuit against SNC Lavalin or not was entirely up to her.

Were the PPSOC to abandon its prosecution of alleged fraud charges, which related to alleged bribery in Libya, SNC Lavalin would likely pay a fine.

The government would also have to be public about the fact that it directed the PPSOC to abandon its investigation and provide an explanation.

Were SNC Lavalin to be convincted in court of the allegations, its ability to apply for government contracts in Canada would be halted for 10 years – something that could endanger many of the 9,000 or so SNC Lavalin workers’ jobs in Canada. It would also therefore hit federal coffers as those workers would not be paying tax. That result could also turn the workers against the federal Liberal party in an election year.

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Author: Glen Korstrom

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