Cameras follow Jody Wilson Raybould as she waits to appear in front of the Justice committee in Ottawa, Wednesday February 27, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Labour minister says it was ‘unethical’ for Wilson-Raybould to record call

Jody Wilson-Raybould recorded a conversation Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick about SNC-Lavalin

The Liberals escalated their criticism Sunday of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s decision to secretly record a phone call with the country’s top bureaucrat, with a prominent cabinet minister declaring her unease with the former attorney general remaining in caucus.

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu told the CBC she believed it was “unethical” for Wilson-Raybould to secretly record her Dec. 19 conversation with Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick. A 17-minute audio clip of the call was released on Friday by the House of Commons justice committee, along with a 43-page brief from Wilson-Raybould that includes emails and text messages.

In a CBC interview Sunday, Hajdu said she has never recorded a colleague’s phone conversation and would never do so covertly.

“I think it’s unethical. I think it’s deceptive,” Hajdu said.

“If you’re going to record a conversation and it’s between colleagues, I think it’s the responsible, ethical thing to do to advise the person on the other end of the phone that you are recording.”

In the call, Wernick repeatedly asks Wilson-Raybould why she was not using all the tools at her disposal on the SNC-Lavalin case. She pushes back, saying she would not override the decision of the director of public prosecutions to pursue a criminal prosecution against SNC-Lavalin for bribery and fraud related to its activities in Libya.

Wernick told her Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “quite determined” on the matter and would likely “find a way to get it done one way or another.”

In her written submission, Wilson-Raybould acknowledged recording the conversation was an “extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step,” but said she felt it necessary to have an exact record of what was discussed.

Wernick declined to comment but his lawyer, Frank Addario, said recording the call was “inappropriate.”

READ MORE: Gerald Butts provides notes, texts to justice committee on SNC-Lavalin

The former attorney general testified earlier this month that she believes she was moved out of the justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to succumb to relentless pressure last fall from Trudeau, his senior staff, Wernick and others to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case. She resigned from cabinet a month later. Treasury Board President Jane Philpott resigned a week afterward, citing a loss in confidence in how the government has dealt with the ongoing affair.

Some Liberal MPs have been growing increasingly upset with Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s seeming desire to keep fanning the flames of the controversy, and have been quietly discussing among themselves how to deal with the pair. The expectation now is that caucus members will insist on expelling them at their next meeting on Wednesday, or earlier if an emergency meeting is called.

Hajdu told the CBC she will defer to the prime minister and her Liberal colleagues on whether Wilson-Raybould and Philpott should remain, but added her discomfort at sharing a caucus with someone who might be recording conversations.

“I, personally, don’t feel comfortable, personally, with a colleague who may be recording me without my knowledge,” she said.

Meanwhile, Trudeau’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts provided information to the justice committee Sunday in response to materials filed last week by Wilson-Raybould.

Butts said in a tweet his information comprised notes and texts of exchanges between himself and Wilson-Raybould.

He told the justice committee in March he believes nobody from the Prime Minister’s Office did anything wrong and that Wilson-Raybould never complained about facing undue pressure.

Butts resigned as Trudeau’s principle secretary last month.

The documents he submitted to committee must be translated into French and their release approved by panel members before public release.

Liberal MLA Anthony Housefather, who chairs the committee, said Sunday he was not exactly sure how long this process could take, but said it would normally be a day or two.

Speaking in Brampton, Ont., Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Butts’ latest action shows the Liberal government was too quick to shut down the justice committee investigation into whether undue political pressure was brought to bear on the attorney general over prosecuting SNC-Lavalin.

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt now, we know that there was high-level attempt to interfere in this process,” Scheer said. “Now we’re calling on the ethics committee to allow an investigation to proceed.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lacombe Composite High School students organize climate change walk-out

Walk-out a show of solidarity with International Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

Yellow Door Dance donation supports purchase of a grand piano for the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre

Grand piano to be able to accommodate a broader range of concerts and performances

Lacombe County, Village of Clive sign Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Municipalities that share a common boundary must create an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Lacombe County, Village of Alix sign Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Municipalities that share a common boundary must create an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

PODCAST: Journalism instructor discusses how reporters have taken on climate change

Mount Royal University’s Sean Holman has been researching how journalists have covered climate change

WATCH: 6th Bill’s Trail Run welcomes over 450 runners

Run advocates for the use and upkeep of Lacombe’s trails

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Most Read