POLITICS
02/20/2019 17:45 EST | Updated 02/22/2019 11:25 EST

Jody Wilson-Raybould Says She Looks Forward To 'Opportunity To Speak My Truth'

The MP has been at the heart of a controversy that has engulfed the government.

Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 20, 2019.
The Canadian Press
Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 20, 2019.

TORONTO — Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould told a stunned House of Commons Wednesday that she looks forward to the opportunity to speak her "truth."

In her first comments in the chamber since the SNC-Lavalin scandal erupted, the MP rose to explain why she did not vote on a motion introduced by NDP MP Charlie Angus that called on the government to launch a public inquiry into the brewing controversy.

"I would ask that the record show that I abstained from voting on that matter. The reason for my abstention is that the matter, in part, has to do with me personally and I do not think that it's appropriate for me to vote on a matter that has to do with me personally," Wilson-Raybould said, as some opposition MPs applauded.

Watch: Jody Wilson-Raybould says she's hopeful for "opportunity to speak my truth"

Angus called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out for voting against the motion and not abstaining like Wilson-Raybould.

The motion was defeated as the Liberals used their majority to shoot it down. Two Grit MPs, Ontario's Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and New Brunswick's Wayne Long voted in favour of the opposition motion.

"In the end, citizens deserve the truth," Erskine-Smith wrote in a letter explaining why he voted in favour of the motion.

"The truth, like confidence in our public institutions, depends on a serious commitment to openness and transparency."

The vote came just a couple of hours after Wilson-Raybould attended her first Liberal caucus meeting since resigning from her role as veterans affairs minister last week.

The controversy erupted earlier this month when The Globe and Mail published a bombshell report alleging senior officials in the PMO had pressured Wilson-Raybould when she was attorney general to help the Quebec engineering giant avoid criminal prosecution.

The story snowballed.

My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend.Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's former principal secretary

Trudeau has rejected the allegations in the Globe's report but the accusations have cost him his principal secretary and close friend, Gerald Butts, who resigned Monday despite denying he pressured Wilson-Raybould.

"My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend," Butts wrote in a public letter. "It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away."

Watch: Who is Gerald Butts, Trudeau's former principal secretary?

While the opposition's attempt to open a formal inquiry was defeated Wednesday, the federal ethics commissioner has launched an investigation in the matter, and Wilson-Raybould herself is set to testify at the justice committee next week.

Though she may not provide many answers.

Wilson-Raybould maintains that she is unable to speak about the allegations due to solicitor-client privilege. The Vancouver MP said she is receiving guidance from former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell on what she can and can't say in public.

"I understand fully that Canadians want to know the truth and want transparency," she said in the House Wednesday. "Privilege and confidentiality are not mine to waive and I hope that I have the opportunity to speak my truth," she concluded, as even louder applause broke out through the House.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould arrives to a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 20, 2019.

Coming out of caucus Wednesday, Liberals tried to show a common front.

Joël Lightbound, parliamentary secretary to the finance minister, dismissed suggestions he was upset with Wilson-Raybould.

"We had a good discussion," he said, in French.

"One thing that sticks out, [we are] very united behind Mr. Trudeau, very united as a party."

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale suggested that "anything is possible" when asked if there was a "path" for Wilson-Raybould to return to cabinet.

"Whether that bridge or path can be built or found remains to be seen. But I always work toward the most positive kinds of results," he said.

With files from Althia Raj and The Canadian Press