Wilson-Raybould makes final pitch to stay in Liberal caucus as colleagues consider her fate

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Wilson-Raybould makes final pitch to stay in Liberal caucus as colleagues consider her fate

by - 3 min read

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Jody Wilson-Raybould made a final pitch to remain a Liberal MP today, insisting her actions in the SNC-Lavalin affair were always meant to protect the prime minister.

As Liberal MPs gathered to debate the question of whether she should be expelled from caucus, the former cabinet minister issued a two-page letter to the national caucus, acknowledging many of them are “angry, hurt and frustrated.”

“And frankly so am I, and I can only speak for myself,” Wilson-Raybould writes. “I am angry, hurt and frustrated because I feel and believe I was upholding the values that we all committed to. In giving the advice I did, and taking the steps I did, I was trying to help protect the prime minister and the government from a horrible mess.”

She also defended her actions on the SNC-Lavalin file.

“I am not the one who tried to interfere in sensitive proceedings, I am not the one who made it public, and I am not the one who publicly denied what happened,” she says in the statement.

Wilson-Raybould said the decision facing Liberal MPs isn’t simply about whether she can remain in caucus — that it’s ultimately about what kind of party they want to be members of, and which values it will uphold.

Ontario Liberal MPs are meeting today to debate whether to kick Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, former Treasury Board president, out of the caucus. Philpott attended the beginning of the meeting, then left, saying she wanted to show respect for her colleagues who are having a sensitive discussion.

It’s not yet clear when the full caucus will meet to determine the fate of the two former cabinet ministers.

Several Liberals have publicly condemned Wilson-Raybould for taping a Dec. 19 conversation with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick. The clerk did not know he was being recorded.

The 17-minute audiotape was submitted as evidence to the Commons justice committee Friday.

Last month, Wilson-Raybould appeared before the Commons justice committee to answer questions about a Globe and Mail report citing unnamed sources that alleged the minister was pushed by senior people in the Trudeau government to allow the Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal prosecution on fraud and bribery charges by meeting a number of conditions laid out in a remediation agreement.

Once before the committee, Wilson-Raybould told MPs that she had been improperly pressured by 11 officials in the Prime Minister’s Office to reverse a decision that denied SNC-Lavalin access to such an agreement.

Wilson-Raybould said late Monday that she wants to remain in the Liberal caucus and sees no reason why she should be expelled.

“I do not believe that I should be removed from caucus for doing my job and for doing what I believe is right,” she told reporters as she left the House of Commons.

Government House Leader Bardish Chagger did not offer a prediction on how the full caucus will vote.

“The team will have conversations and we’ll find a way forward,” she said on her way in to a cabinet meeting.

Liberals on the Commons justice committee used their majority today to defeat a Conservative motion that would call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several of his top aides to testify on the SNC-Lavalin matter.

Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper, who tabled the motion, accused the Liberal members of being “agents of the PM.”

“Not surprisingly, but disappointingly once again, the Liberals shot down our motion to hear from all of the key players in the SNC-Lavalin matter,” he said.

“It’s clear that if we’re getting to the truth, we need to hear from all the key players, yet again it’s clear they are in control, doing the bidding of the PMO and so they shut that opportunity down.”

Liberal MP and committee chair Anthony Housefather said there have been plenty of opportunities for people to put their information forward.

“We agreed to stop oral meetings, but we’ve accepted submissions that have come in, in writing, to the committee and we’ve accepted them and make them public,” he said.

Gerry Butts, Trudeau’s former principal secretary, has submitted additional material to the committee that is now being translated. It’s expected to be released later this afternoon.

This story originally appeared on CBC

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