Prime Minister Trudeau Under Fire over SNC-Lavalin Claims

Trudeau's office pressured Justice Minister to drop case against company with deep Liberal ties

Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin

The House of Commons justice committee will hold an emergency meeting next week in the wake of multiple calls for an investigation into allegations that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by the Prime Minister's Office to help construction giant SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

Asked directly about the case, Trudeau said: "The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false".

The Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday that Mr. Trudeau's office attempted to press Ms. Wilson-Raybould to get the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to shelve court proceedings against SNC Lavalin in favour of a negotiated deal without trial. After lobbying by the company of government officials, including those in the PMO, the government included in its 2018 budget a Criminal Code amendment to allow such agreements to be negotiated in cases of corporate crime, as is done in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Now, following a report by the Globe and Mail, we have learned what lies behind Wilson-Raybould's dispatch to what effectively appears to be the federal Liberals' ministerial gulag, Veterans Affairs (with no disrespect meant to military veterans). As justice minister, Wilson-Raybould would have been involved in those discussions. But government officials said there was nothing wrong with that.

Under the law, the attorney general may issue a directive to the director of public prosecutions on how to handle a specific case, provided the directive is in writing and made public.

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When Wilson-Raybould pushed back, anonymous sources informed the Globe and Mail, she was effectively pushed out.

NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice called the Globe's report "credible journalistic work" and echoed Singh's accusation of the Liberals appeasing their rich associates.

None of that is likely to matter with opposition politicians, who maintain the whole affair smells like obstruction of justice.

David Young the former Attorney General of Ontario during the Progressive Conservative Harris government has now openly called for an investigation into the SNC-Lavalin scandal which has plagued the Trudeau government for the past few days. "His carefully crafted and legally vetted answers today fall far short in this regard", Scheer told reporters on Parliament Hill.

He said requesting that the officials appear at committee is his party's next step because it can happen immediately, though they have also begun exploring other "legal avenues".

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The list includes Lametti, the prime minister's chief of staff Katie Telford, and his principal secretary Gerald Butts.

NDP MPs Charlie Angus and Nathan Cullen on Friday wrote to ethics commissioner Mario Dion, suggesting the allegations could represent a breach of a provision of the Conflict of Interest Act that prohibits public office holders from giving "preferential treatment to any person or organization".

Singh similarly argued that the prime minister should have nothing to fear from an independent investigation by the federal ethics commissioner.

"If he truly wants to clear this up and believes there's been no wrongdoing, he should welcome an investigation from the ethics commissioner".

"The allegations that we are hearing in the last 24 hours are unprecedented", Scheer said.

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"At the end of the day, Canadians deserve to have a government on their side, on the side of justice, not on the side of a multinational corporation".

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