Trudeau under fire over interference allegations in fraud case

Federico Mansilla
Febrero 9, 2019

Officials in Trudeau's office tried to pressure Jody Wilson-Raybould into directing prosecutors to settle corruption charges against the Montreal-based construction and engineering company out of court, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the justice portfolio last month, with Trudeau naming her veterans affairs minister.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould at a swearing in ceremony on January 14, 2019. Moreover, as justice minister, Wilson-Raybould was responsible for a 2018 Criminal Code amendment at the heart of the current controversy - which specifically allowed for what's known as deferred prosecutions or remediation agreements to be negotiated rather than pursue criminal prosecutions against corporations.

Asked if the PMO exerted any influence whatsoever, Mr. Trudeau said: "As I've said, at no time did we direct the attorney-general, current or previous, to make any decision whatsoever in this matter".

That's why he says his party will request an emergency Justice Committee Meeting to call witnesses and get answers.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Thursday that SNC-Lavalin repeatedly lobbied Trudeau's aides for a deal and that his office leaned on Wilson-Raybould to make it happen.

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

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The former federal attorney general is refusing to either sink or protect her prime minister - but it's clear the days of hugs and mutual admiration tweets are history.

"If the prime minister has nothing to hide as he has suggested then he should have no reason to fear these individuals appearing before the justice committee", Scheer said on Parliament Hill. "MPs have a duty to determine what exactly happened here and Justin Trudeau and his office must be forthcoming".

SNC has previously been charged with bribery and corruption over its efforts to secure government business in Libya.

Singh accused the government of sacrificing justice in the interests of a multinational corporation.

Singh said the allegations suggest there may have been possible violations of three sections of the federal Conflict of Interest Act: the prohibitions against public office holders giving preferential treatment to any individual or organization, using insider information to improperly further a person's private interests or seeking to influence a decision to further another person's private interests. Lametti said neither he nor Wilson-Raybould were ever directed or pressured to intervene with the director of public prosecutions to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. As justice minister, Wilson-Raybould would have been involved in those discussions.

The fact that such directives must be done publicly would seem to constrain a justice minister from doing anything overtly political.

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