Canadian Manufacturing

Wernick issued veiled threats over SNC standoff, Wilson-Raybould says

Michael Wernick has denied threatening Wilson-Raybould or improperly pressuring her


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OTTAWA—Jody Wilson-Raybould secretly recorded a conversation with Michael Wernick in which she claims the country’s top public servant issued veiled threats that she’d lose her job as justice minister if she didn’t intervene to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

She included the audio recording as part of an additional written submission to the House of Commons justice committee, after testifying orally for nearly four hours about an intense pressure campaign last fall to persuade her to override the director of public prosecutions, who had decided not to offer the Montreal engineering giant a remediation agreement.

“I am 100 per cent confident I’m doing nothing inappropriate,” Wilson-Raybould can be heard telling Wernick in the Dec. 19 phone conversation.

“This is gonna look like nothing but political interference by the prime minister, by you, by everyone that has been involved in this, politically pressuring me to do this.

“I actually feel uncomfortable having this conversation. It’s wrong.”

Wernick is heard to say the prime minister doesn’t believe he’s asking Wilson-Raybould to do anything inappropriate, and that he’s worried about a “collision” between Trudeau and his attorney general.

“It is not a good idea for the prime minister and his attorney general to be at loggerheads,” Wernick says.

“I am worried about a collision, then, because he is pretty firm about this … I just saw him a few hours ago, and this is really important to him.”

Wilson-Raybould testified orally about conversation, saying she took his warnings that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was determined to halt the prosecution as veiled threats.

She said she believes she was moved out of the prestigious justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle because she refused to intervene; she resigned from cabinet a month later.

Wernick has denied threatening Wilson-Raybould or improperly pressuring her.

By the time he appeared for a second time at committee on March 6, Wernick appears to have learned that his Dec. 19 conversation had been recorded.

In response to questions about his recollections about the conversation, he snapped: “I did not wear a wire, record the conversation or take extemporaneous notes.”

Near the end of the call, Wilson-Raybould is heard to tell Wernick she’s waiting for “the other shoe to drop.”

“I am not under any illusion how the prime minister has and gets things that he wants … I am just stuck doing the best job that I can.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019

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