Well it’s now official and tomorrow is a day that we’ve been looking forward to ever since the SNC/PMO scandal kicked off three weeks ago. After the Prime Minister finally waived privilege yesterday and the Chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee agreed to her requests, Jody Wilson-Raybould will testify and give us her truth. Needless to say, all eyes will be on that new committee room in the newly renovated West Block and it promises to be something.
So far, we really don’t know exactly what she might say that would deviate from everything that we’ve heard so far. The general assumption has been that she will either confirm the Globe and Mail’s reporting or will refute it, and we haven’t heard anything yet that would lead us to think otherwise. But one thing that has come out over the past couple of days really jumped out at me was a detail from the letter that Jody Wilson-Raybould sent to the Chair of the committee:
Asking for 30 minutes to speak at the start of committee testimony is extremely rare. In fact, in my nine years spending time in House of Commons committee rooms I can’t think of a single time when I’ve seen or heard of anyone asking for that kind of accommodation. Witnesses get their 10 minutes at the start of a meeting, and that’s very formulaic, very straight forward. In fact, in my time when witnesses decide to deviate from that convention, it’s usually to forgo any testimony up front and get straight to any questions that the committee might have. That is usually done to allow committee members more time to ask questions in the limit hour that a witness is usually on a panel.
So, I have to ask myself what she wants to say in those 30 minutes. In this case, the meeting is scheduled for two full hours with Wilson-Raybould as the lone witness, so it’s not like she’s trying to talk out the clock by asking for more time. Part of me can’t help but wonder if her plan is to lay out her case like a lawyer would in a court room, laying out the timeline and making her case for how she feels. I also wonder if she will bring any extra supporting evidence to the table. A detail came out in reporting this weekend that I have wondered a lot about and its potential impact:
What is clear is that she has an important story to tell — and it is likely to be well-documented. Multiple government sources say Wilson-Raybould is a prodigious note-taker, making copious written accounts of nearly every meeting she attends.https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/snc-lavalin-wilson-raybould-trudeau-wernick-1.5030928
Does she have contemporaneous notes about those meetings? Did she detail what was said to her, so she didn’t forget? If so, will she share those with the committee to make her case? If I were in the PMO, that would make me a bit scared, especially given that she’ll have a whole 30 minutes. In that time, she’ll hold the floor, will have an uninterrupted chance to speak while the committee members watch on, along with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, as it’s safe to say all the major news networks will be covering it wall to wall live.
We don’t know exactly what Jody Wilson-Raybould will say tomorrow but her testimony promises to help to bringing this story much closer to a head. We’ll have a much better idea about how much more there is to find in this case and how much more runway this story has to go. It could take off at supersonic speeds, or it could crash into the ground. It’s all on the table and it all rests on the testimony of the former Attorney General. It all rests on her words, as it has from the very start three weeks ago. Tomorrow we’ll finally get to hear her truth, and it promises to be the most consequential testimony given in a House of Commons committee in a while.