Jody Wilson-Raybould raised the spectre of disgraced USA president Richard Nixon and Watergate in how she was treated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minions in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, a.k.a. Lavscam, on Wednesday.
In fiery testimony delivered before a parliamentary justice committee that was carried live on Canadian television, Jody Wilson-Raybould said that "inappropriate" political pressure campaign involved 11 people, including some who made "veiled threats" if she did not offer SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement that would drop the criminal charges facing the Montreal-based company in exchange for the payment of a hefty fine.
Former federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says she was the subject of "consistent and sustained" pressure to halt criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. A Prime Minister who doesn't know where the Liberal Party ends and where the Government of Canada begins.
I listened carefully to the testimony of the former Attorney General, and like Canadians, I was sickened and appalled by her story of inappropriate, and frankly illegal pressure brought to bear on her by the highest officials of Justin Trudeau's government.
He also called for a federal police investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Liberal officials. On February 12, Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet altogether, after Trudeau remarked that her presence in the government's executive was proof that nothing untoward had occurred. He told her that the prime minister was "going to find a way to get it done one way or the other" and that it was not good for the attorney general to be "at loggerheads" with the prime minister.
"I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the gov't to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion".
Trudeau told the news conference that "our government will always focus on jobs" and said officials had discussed the implications of SNC-Lavalin cutting its workforce. So did Gerald Butts, the government's principal secretary and a close college friend of Trudeau who is widely credited as being the architect of his electoral victory in 2015.
But she also noted that the clerk of the Privy Council Office, Michael Wernick, the country's top public servant, was crossing the line in a conversation when he repeatedly invoked the prime minister's name and his concerns about her position not to intervene.
Wilson-Raybould was subsequently shuffled and moved to the veterans affairs portfolio on January 14.
"I was concerned I was shuffled because of a decision I would not take with SNC, I raised those concerns with the PM", she said.
Many questions after her testimony pertained to what Wilson-Raybould described as a concern from Trudeau officials about the job losses that would result from the prosecution of the engineering firm, that retains several significant government contracts.
The Globe and Mail's report this month said Trudeau's office pressured her to instruct the director of public prosecutions to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin. "It's important and I was happy to be able to speak", she said and would not speculate about whether she would be booted from the Liberal caucus.
"As you might imagine I haven't yet had the opportunity to review her entire testimony".
By the time she finished her confident, precise, scorching and riveting testimony over four hours before the Commons justice committee - testifying on her own, without her legal advisor, former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell, by her side - it was easy to see why.
Wilson-Raybould said officials cited the danger that the firm might cut jobs or move its headquarters out of Quebec if found guilty.
Wilson-Raybould reiterated her intention to remain part of the Liberal team as she exited the committee room, even though she refused during questioning to say whether she still had confidence in the leader of that team.