Wilson-Raybould tables new documents on SNC-Lavalin file, release expected Friday
Former AG says she has never been the source of any media reports on alleged political interference
Jody Wilson-Raybould has submitted a written statement, emails and text messages related to the SNC-Lavalin matter to the Commons justice committee, but the material is not expected to be made public until late Friday.
The documents must be translated and scrubbed of personal information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, before they can be released.
The former justice minister and attorney general testified before the committee for nearly four hours on Feb. 27 about her allegation that senior government figures inappropriately pressured her to intervene in SNC-Lavalin's bribery case. Last week, the Liberal MPs who hold the majority on the committee voted to close down the inquiry without recalling Wilson-Raybould to testify a second time in response to other witnesses.
In a letter to the justice committee chair, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, Wilson-Raybould said she would offer the committee "relevant facts and evidence in my possession that further clarify statements I made and elucidate the accuracy and nature of statements by witnesses in testimony that came after my committee appearance."
Meanwhile, Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt asked the federal judicial affairs commissioner today to investigate leaks of information about the most recent Supreme Court appointment. Media reports this week said tensions between Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began to flare when the two were at odds over the appointment.
"A plain reading of the facts strongly suggests that political actors have leaked the content of discussions regarding an appointment to Canada's highest judicial body," Raitt wrote in a letter to the commissioner.
'Egregious' political interference
"If indeed this is true, it is an egregious case of political interference and one that severely injures the independence of the judiciary."
Commissioner Marc Giroux sent a letter in response to Raitt's request late Wednesday, saying that while he is "deeply concerned" and "troubled" by the release of confidential information to the media (he called it "wholly inappropriate"), he does not have the power to investigate.
"Essentially, my office is the intermediary between the judiciary and the executive, and the Judges Act does not provide me with any investigatory power," he wrote. "My office is unlike certain other federal organizations whose mandates are essentially to investigate, and whose authority, mechanisms and timelines for such may be defined in their statute."
Justice Minister David Lametti tweeted his own concerns about the leak late Wednesday.
"I am concerned by the publication of details of the most recent #SupremeCourt justice selection," he said. "The integrity of our process depends on confidentiality for all parties involved. Canadians should have complete confidence in the administration of justice."
I am concerned by the publication of details of the most recent <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SupremeCourt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SupremeCourt</a> justice selection. The integrity of our process depends on confidentiality for all parties involved. Canadians should have complete confidence in the administration of justice.—@DavidLametti
Wilson-Raybould said she supports an investigation into the leaks.
"This has to stop and, given the seriousness of this matter, I feel that there should be consideration of having some sort of investigation as to the source of this information," she said in an email response to a query from CBC News.
Wilson-Raybould said that, contrary to what some have suggested, she has not been the source of any of the SNC-Lavalin stories — including the Feb. 7 Globe and Mail report that touched off the scandal — and has never authorized anyone to speak on her behalf about the subject.
She said reporting and commentary on a Supreme Court appointment could compromise the integrity of the process.
"I strongly condemn anyone who would speak about or provide information on such sensitive matters."
The Prime Minister's Office issued a denial of its own late this afternoon.
"We take the integrity of our institutions seriously," said spokesperson Chantal Gagnon in a statement. "The PMO would never leak who would be considered for a judicial appointment."
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) weighed in this week, insisting the application and deliberations process for judicial appointments must be kept strictly confidential to ensure its integrity.
"Keeping the deliberations confidential respects the privacy of applicants and guards against interference," said CBA president Ray Adlington in a statement posted to the CBA's website.
"Breaching confidentiality by releasing the names and commenting on the suitability of the other applicants after the appointment demeans the selection process and ultimately all those who hold the office of judge."
Raitt, who sits on the Commons justice committee, said today that members have not yet received Wilson-Raybould's documents.
An immediate investigation into recent judicial leaks is necessary, particularly in light of Justin Trudeau’s efforts to cover-up his involvement in the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal. Read my letter to Federal Judicial Affairs Commissioner Marc Giroux: <a href="https://t.co/XX0447WtFt">pic.twitter.com/XX0447WtFt</a>—@lraitt
She said she could not predict how revealing they might be, given Wilson-Raybould's limited waiver on cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege, but said "more information is always better than less."
Wilson-Raybould has insisted she remains restrained in what she can say due to the limits of the government-issued waiver.
Trudeau has defended the waiver as an unprecedented move that allows her to speak "entirely and completely" about events during her time as attorney general. The waiver does not cover the period after she was moved to Veterans Affairs and before she resigned from cabinet.
The Liberal government has been reeling since the Globe published a story Feb. 7 alleging PMO officials and others in government inappropriately pressured Wilson-Raybould to override a decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges.
After the Commons justice committee launched its study, Wilson-Raybould testified that she endured veiled threats and intense pressure to override the decision to prosecute the Montreal-based engineering and construction company.
Jane Philpott also resigned from cabinet this month, saying she had lost confidence in how the government was handling the matter.
In an interview with Maclean's last week, Philpott said there is "much more" to the SNC-Lavalin story and that she believes the Canadian public deserves to know more.
With files from the CBC's Katie Simpson