Hoback accuses Liberals of cover-up

Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback speaks to members of the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce during a NAFTA presentation in February. -- Herald file photo.

Prince Albert’s MP is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of trying to cover-up the SNC-Lavalin Affair.

The Globe and Mail broke the story earlier this month that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) pressured then-Attorney General and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the criminal prosecution of Montreal’s SNC-Lavalin Group. The company was attempting to secure a remediation agreement, which would lay a large fine on business instead of going through a long criminal trial.

The Globe reported that the PMO pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene after the Public Prosecution Service of Canada announced criteria for a remediation agreement was not met and would not be offered to the company.

SNC-Lavalin employs about 9,000 people at its Montreal office. It is facing trial for an alleged $48 million in bribes and $130 million in fraud from its dealing in Lybia from 2001 to 2011.

Since the news broke, Wilson-Raybould resigned from her Cabinet role of Minister of Veterans Affairs and hired a lawyer to determine what she is allowed to say. She has said she can’t comment much on the matter, as it is protected by solicitor-client privilege.

Some have alleged that Raybould-Wilson was shuffled out of her more prominent position into the less-prominent veterans affairs portfolio because she pushed back.

This week, Trudeau said it was only because of former Treasury Secretary Scott Brison’s resignation that the cabinet was shuffled and Raybould-Wilson moved. He denied it had anything to do with SNC-Lavalin.

“If Scott Brison had not stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be minister of justice and attorney general,” he said, according to multiple media reports.
Trudeau also reportedly said that there were many discussions going on about SNC-Lavalin and that Wilson-Raybould asked him if he would be directing her to take a particular decision.

“I, of course, said no, that it was her decision to make and I expected her to make it,” Trudeau told reporters.

Other media reports from earlier in the week suggested she was shuffled out because she can’t speak French and some major cases are coming up in Quebec.

Trudeau said Friday that there was a wide range of factors that led to the cabinet shuffle.

Randy Hoback put out a press release to media late Friday afternoon calling on Trudeau to waive solicitor-client privilege, and for the Liberals on the Justice Committee to stop blocking the Conservatives’ attempts to call Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts and his senior Quebec advisor Mathiew Bouchard to testify at committee.

“The recent emergency Justice Committee meeting was his chance to be open and transparent on the matter. Instead, the Trudeau Liberals helped cover-up the truth of what really happened between the Prime Minister’s Office and the former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould,” Hoback said in his written statement.

“The reports of alleged PMO interference in a criminal prosecution are incredibly disturbing,” said Hoback. “What appears even more shocking, however, is that it seems the Prime Minister fired his Attorney General for refusing to bow to his demands.

“What’s clear after the Justice Committee meeting is that the Liberals have no interest in finding the truth and are only interested in helping the Prime Minister cover this up. Canadians deserve answers, and that’s why Conservatives will explore all legal options to hold Justin Trudeau to account.”

The Liberals deny the assertions of Hoback and the Conservatives.

First Nations groups have also rallied to support Wilson-Raybould, who was the first Indigenous person to be Canada’s justice minister.

The Saskatoon Tribal Council put out a statement to show their support for her earlier this week.

“I want to thank Jody Wilson Raybould for her service to Canadians in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Trudeau’s Government,” Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said.

“Wilson Raybould is a person of extraordinary principle, leadership and belief in progressive politics of support for all people. She deserves our utmost appreciation and respect.

“I applaud her on her integrity and all the hard work she has done. As an Indigenous woman, she achieved one of Canada’s highest level roles as she worked for all people in Canada.”