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'Lobbying happens' in government, says N.W.T. MP about Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin

'After listening to her, I think most of us had no doubt that she felt that she was inappropriately pressured by the Prime Minister,' says Michael McLeod.

Hard to say 'what the attorney general should be putting up with,' says Michael McLeod

Michael McLeod, a former cabinet minister in the Northwest Territories government and now Liberal MP, said 'lobbying happens' when you're in power. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The N.W.T.'s Liberal MP, a former cabinet minister in the Northwest Territories government, says "lobbying happens" when you're in power.  

Michael McLeod made the comments in a radio interview on Friday about the political drama between former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Prime Minister's Office in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

"It happens non-stop, and it happens from many different directions. I've been in a position where the premier has pressured me to do certain things — so I know it happens," McLeod said.

"I think maybe if you never experienced that before, you might consider it unduly hard."

At the same time, though, McLeod acknowledged he has never been the attorney general, doesn't know all the rules, and so it's hard to say "what the attorney general should be putting up with." 

McLeod also had strong words of support, calling her a strong voice and an important person in the Liberal Party. He also said her testimony before the justice committee on Wednesday was credible.

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould arrives to give her testimony about the SNC-LAVALIN affair before a justice committee hearing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images)

"After listening to her, I think most of us had no doubt that she felt that she was inappropriately pressured by the Prime Minister," McLeod said.

Wilson-Raybould has claimed that as attorney general multiple officials pressured her to interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based engineering and construction company that is facing corruption charges for contracts it had in Libya.

She testified at a Commons justice committee that there were veiled threats to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, which would spare SNC-Lavalin criminal charges.

McLeod said Wilson-Raybould's testimony answered some key questions for him.

"I wanted to hear if there was actually any actual firm direction provided by the Prime Minister's Office, and I wanted to also know if it was illegal what was going on. And in both cases I heard no. 

"The issue is certainly not black and white."

In an interview later Friday on CBC TV's Northbeat, McLeod elaborated on his comments about Wilson-Raybould's preparedness to deal with political pressure, calling her a "seasoned politician" who was "well suited" to be attorney general — a job she held for more than three years.

"I have a lot of faith in Jody Wilson-Raybould, and I also have faith in the prime minister. And I'm hoping some way we're going to find a way through this."

'Great confidence' in Trudeau: Yukon MP

McLeod said it's important to hear more people testify before the justice committee before drawing any firm conclusions — something echoed by the North's other Liberal MP, Yukon's Larry Bagnell.

Bagnell said he's confident the justice committee and the ethics commissioner will get to the bottom of things.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell says he's confident the justice committee and the ethics commissioner will get to the bottom of what may have gone on during Wilson-Raybould's time as justice minister and attorney general. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

"We learned a lot [Wednesday], which I thought was great. And the ethics commissioner is independent of Parliament, so I think that's very good. And I look forward to seeing what they come up with," Bagnell said.

In the meantime, he still has "great confidence" in Trudeau.

"He's delivered more to the Yukon than any government in history, if you look at, especially on the area of poverty — as you know, that was one of my main reasons for getting in Parliament."

Meanwhile, the North's other MP, Hunter Tootoo — elected as a Liberal but now sitting as an Independent — said he's also waiting for more information before deciding whether to support either the Conservatives' call for Trudeau to resign or the NDP's push for a public inquiry.

"It's important to, you know, to hear everything before me coming to any conclusion," he said.

"I do recognize and support Miss Wilson-Raybould, I think it took a lot of courage for her to go to committee and make her presentation [on Wednesday] ... she did her job as minister of justice very well, and I think she's a person of utmost integrity." 

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story inaccurately paraphrased MP Michael McLeod as saying Jody Wilson-Raybould was ill-prepared for lobbying in Ottawa.
    Mar 07, 2019 9:47 AM CT

With files from Loren McGinnis and Nancy Thomson

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