Delta Liberal MP Carla Qualtrough says she remains confident in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the fall-out continues over the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Qualtrough spoke with the Optimist Friday to provide her take on former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony to the House of Commons justice committee that she was pressured by Trudeau, his senior staff and others to halt a criminal prosecution of Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.
“What we heard was there were conversations about SNC-Lavalin in the prime minister’s office and the former attorney-general’s office. No one is disputing that these conversations took place,” said Qualtrough. “She gave her fulsome version on how these conversations were received by her and her staff and the prime minister said very clearly that he disagreed with her characterization of those events.”
Qualtrough, the minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, said she was looking for a couple of things out of the testimony.
“I was listening to hear if she was going to testify that she was directed to do something and she very clearly testified that she was not,” said Qualtrough. “The second thing which is more of my lawyer hat on, of whether she was going to say that something illegal happened, or was there any kind of obstruction of justice and directly again she said no she didn’t think anything illegal happened, so those were the two lines for me. If those two lines had been crossed, then I would have had a different opinion on things, but I don’t feel they were.”
Qualtrough said over the past few years she has built strong relationships with both Wilson-Raybould, a fellow B.C. MP, and Trudeau.
“Jody and I have come to know each other quite well. In fact, we campaigned together as candidates in 2015, travelled back-and-forth, worked together closely on a number of files, both having the same kind of passions, but as I said I have built that same kind of relationship with the prime minister and for me I’m not prepared to say I believe one person over the other,” she said. “I have confidence and remain confident in the prime minister. It’s unfortunate that these things are happening and that they are playing out quite publicly. But these are really stressful, high pressure jobs.
“There are only 35 people in the country you can talk to about them. You can’t come home at the end of the day and talk to your spouse or your friends – none of the things you can do to let off steam in regular jobs, so you do become close with your colleagues and lean on them and be candid with them.
“The upside of all of that is you have cabinet confidence, which means when you are making decisions around the table that will impact the entire country, you can be really candid and disagree and challenge because you know those conversations are confidential and once you make a decision you have to all stand by that decision because that is the only way the system works.”
As for what effect this scandal may have once the federal election campaign begins later this year, Qualtrough said it’s too early to tell.
“For me, what people in Delta are going to see is how I have delivered as a MP and how I have helped the government deliver what we said we were going to do. I expect to be judged and held account for those things and how this factors in, we have to wait to see how it plays out,” she said.