As It Happens

Justin Trudeau 'doesn't deserve to be the prime minister any longer,' says Lisa Raitt

Jody Wilson-Raybould's testimony about the SNC-Lavalin affair proves that Canadians can no longer trust their prime minister, says Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt.

Trudeau denies he acted inappropriately in his conversations with Jody Wilson-Raybould about SNC-Lavalin

Conservative deputy minister Lisa Raitt, right, says Canadians can no longer trust Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left. (Sean Kilpatrick, Fred Chartrand/Canadian Pres)

Transcript

Jody Wilson-Raybould's testimony about the SNC-Lavalin affair proves that Canadians can no longer trust their prime minister, says Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt. 

The former justice minister and attorney general testified Wednesday at the Commons justice committee that Justin Trudeau and other top Liberals repeatedly attempted to coerce her to secure a deal to help the Quebec-based company avoid criminal prosecution on corruption charges — after she'd already decided it would be inappropriate to do so. 

Trudeau and the Liberals have denied they acted inappropriately and welcome the results of the justice committee investigation and the ethics commissioner's probe. But Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the prime minister should step down and be subject to a criminal investigation.

Here is part of Raitt's conversation with As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.

Your leader, of course, sent a letter to the RCMP asking them to conduct an investigation. Ms. Wilson-Raybould said herself she doesn't believe that any laws were broken. It sounds like you disagree.​

It may be her opinion that it wasn't broken, but given all the facts, maybe the RCMP will come to a different opinion when they take a look at the parts of the criminal code that we think apply.

At the end of the day, what we're trying to uphold here is the separation between the executive branch, the Prime Minister's Office and the judiciary.

Very important to keep those two separate, and there is so much interference on this file, I would say that the two are not separated and, as such, it should be investigated.

Jody Wilson-Raybould testified Thursday that the Trudeau government exerted repeated and 'inappropriate' pressure on her and her staff over the SNC-Lavalin case. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The Minister of Fisheries Jonathan Wilkinson told us that he feels these kinds of communications between staff and ministers are "very normal." That's his actual words. [Former PMO adviser Gerry] Butts categorically denied putting pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould. Obviously, the prime minister says he does not agree with her interpretation of events. Could it just be a matter of her having a different view, a different perspective on things than what the other Liberals involved in this believe is pressure or undue pressure?

Look, she characterized it yesterday. She said it was relentless, continuous pressure and interference meant to be political in nature.

She said it was political interference, and she asked for them to stop several times along the way. She gave us a 40-minute presentation on every note that had to do with what was going on.

So for somebody else to come in and say she misunderstood ... I think is hopeful that this isn't as serious as it is. And they shouldn't get their hopes up, because it is quite serious.

There's been rather mixed reaction to this controversy in Quebec, and some of it has been people defending SNC-Lavalin and the government in terms of the belief that they need to protect jobs. That's the line, of course, the Liberals are going with — protecting 9,000 jobs. Are you concerned about the loss of jobs if the company were to be convicted and lose the right to bid on big projects?

Let me put it this way: I would never interfere with a decision made by the public prosecutor on whether or not to pursue a criminal prosecution if I felt that they were absolutely correct in law.

Jody Wilson-Raybould felt that way after she did her due diligence and she stood by it. As a result, they don't get one of these Deferred Prosecution Agreements, and that's just the way it is.

If they want to help in terms of jobs in the future, they can take a look at their own government policy on whether or not they want to ban them from taking contracts or being able to bid on contracts.

But to make the attorney general do it because it's expedient, I think is absolutely wrong and it's absolutely immoral.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has asked for Trudeau's resignation and for a police investigation. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Last night, your leader Andrew Scheer called for the prime minister to resign immediately. Some critics have said that was overreach, that it was a bold demand and you can't go anywhere from that point. Do you not want to hear from him first, perhaps under oath, before making a call like that?

We've asked several times to the prime minister to testify. He has refused all of them.

We've asked several questions in the House of Commons. He doesn't answer them.

We have heard his narrative through his media availabilities. It's completely insufficient and, as a result, we have no other choice but No. 1, ask for the RCMP to take a look at it, but No. 2, to draw the assumption that what Jody Wilson-Raybould said is exactly correct and that there was political interference.

If that's the case, that it shakes the foundations of our constitution and our separation of powers. He is way over the line and he doesn't deserve to be the prime minister any longer. That's how seriously we take it.

It is fundamental that Canadians can trust their prime minister, and he has shown them that he is willing to interfere in criminal trials in order to score a few votes in Quebec.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC News. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

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