OTTAWA- Former federal Treasury Board president Jane Philpott says there’s “much more to the story” of the SNC-Lavalin affair that should be told.
In an interview with Maclean’s magazine that landed like a bombshell Thursday on Parliament Hill, the ex-minister says she had concerns before the controversy became public in January, but that she has been prevented from discussing them, alleging efforts by the Prime Minister’s Office to “shut down the story.”
Philpott joined the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, in resigning from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet last month, following public allegations that Trudeau and others pressured Wilson-Raybould to avert a criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering firm for alleged corrupt practices in Libya.
“My sense is that Canadians would like to know the whole story,” Philpott told Maclean’s in her first extended interview since her resignation.
“I believe we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth. They need to have confidence in the very basic constitutional principle of the independence of the justice system.”
Philpott’s new public statements are already fanning the flames of a scandal the government is desperate to douse, and which the Opposition Conservatives are doing their best to keep alive. They’ve forced the House of Commons to sit all night, voting line by line on the Liberal government’s spending plans.
The Liberal majority in the House shot down a Conservative motion calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let Wilson-Raybould testify more fully about what she experienced through the fall and into the early winter, especially what prompted her to resign from cabinet altogether after she was shuffled from the justice portfolio to Veterans Affairs in January.
The motion was defeated by a vote of 161-134, with both Philpott and Wilson-Raybould absent.
That set the stage for the Conservative-sponsored filibuster that began Wednesday night and continued through Thursday morning.
Since any vote involving government spending is automatically a confidence vote, Liberals were required to be out in force to avoid potential defeat of the government. The voting could theoretically last 36 hours, but the Conservatives have only to keep it going until just after 10 a.m. today to scrub the remainder of the parliamentary day.
A day of committee meetings scheduled for Thursday has already been cancelled.