Jody Wilson-Raybould is doubtless raising anxiety levels in the Prime Minister’s Office and with the prime minister himself.
The former federal attorney general is refusing to either sink or protect her prime minister — but it’s clear the days of hugs and mutual admiration tweets are history.
Tension became palpable during public cabinet post reassignments in mid-January and hinted at troubled deeper waters. Much deeper. Wilson-Raybould was unable to mask still-evident shock. Trudeau appeared wooden, almost sullen.
Watch: Jody Wilson-Raybould takes on Veterans’ Affairs in cabinet shuffle
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Now, following a report by the Globe and Mail, we have learned what lies behind Wilson-Raybould’s dispatch to what effectively appears to be the federal Liberals’ ministerial gulag, Veterans Affairs (with no disrespect intended to military veterans).
Was the PMO applying pressure on the Attorney General in an attempt to influence the minister to persuade her prosecutors to move away from the pursuit of criminal corruption and fraud prosecution against international and Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavelin, opting instead for remediation.
When Wilson-Raybould pushed back, anonymous sources informed the Globe and Mail, she was effectively pushed out.
Watch: reaction to SNC-Lavalin interference allegations
PM denies SNC-Lavalin interference allegations
During the heady days of Justin Trudeau’s “because it’s 2015” declaration, Wilson-Raybould’s ascension to the role of the nation’s top justice official defined the moment.
Four years later as an election looms, the Globe and Mail story is a torpedo honing in on the PMO.
If indeed Wilson-Raybould refused to attempt to persuade her prosecutors to drop pursuit of a criminal trial of SNC-Lavalin in favour of a settlement of the charges, the Attorney General became expendable. Perhaps not entirely, but essentially.
The now-Veterans Affairs Minister has stated attorney-client privilege precludes a public explanation. What about an MP’s responsibility to be truthful toward the electorate?
As for the PMO, if indeed either the Office or the Prime Minister did indeed attempt to interfere with a criminal matter, an entirely new police investigation may well await.