Friday, 19 April, 2019

Former Ontario Attorney General says allegations against Trudeau must be investigated further

Jody Wilson-Raybould Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin
Sandy Nunez | 10 February, 2019, 02:10

The Globe and Mail, citing confidential sources, alleged the Prime Minister's Office put pressure on Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was then justice minister and attorney general, to have prosecutors negotiate a "remediated agreement" with SNC-Lavalin.

The company, based in Canada's Quebec province, was charged with corruption and fraud in connection with payments of almost 36 million US dollars in bribes to public officials in the former Libyan government of late leader Muammar Gaddafi and defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated 98 million dollars between 2001 and 2011.

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.

The newspaper also suggests Wilson-Raybould was demoted in a cabinet shuffle last month because she didn't made a deal with the company.

Neither Wilson-Raybould nor SNC-Lavalin has responded to questions from The Canadian Press about the story.

The Conservatives framed Wilson-Raybould's move to minister of veterans affairs as a demotion for not following the PMO's orders, while the NDP said the Globe's report proves that the Liberals offer special treatment to their wealthy friends. The agreement is a way of holding a company accountable for what it did, but the company itself would not be accountable for the actions of its employees.

Speaking to reporters in the House of Commons foyer, he said "the Prime Minister himself appears to have fired his own attorney-general for refusing to bow to his demands".

The federal director of public prosecutions told SNC-Lavalin in October that negotiating a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this particular case. "Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter".

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau's response was carefully crafted and legally vetted.

Justice Minister David Lametti speaks during question period in the House of Commons on February 7, 2019.

Defend Pro-Life Laws at the Supreme Court
Yet, in 2000, he was the author of a 7-2 decision that reaffirmed the Miranda case. The justices voting for the hold on the law did not explain their vote.

The attorney general is thus allowed to direct prosecutors - but crucially, the direction must appear in a government publication called the Canada Gazette, which is viewable by the public. The Conservatives' Scheer and the New Democrats' Singh both called Friday for an ethics probe into the allegations.

Trudeau is denying the allegations.

Speaking on CTV's Power Play, Conservative MP Lisa Raitt said that Trudeau should "come clean" on exactly what happened.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", he said in a telephone interview from Burnaby, B.C., where he's campaigning for a seat in the House of Commons in a February 25 byelection.

"If there is any going to be any discussion from very high levels in the government to grant an exemption ... to a company when we are talking about very serious criminal prosecutions, that must be done with full transparency".

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

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

For the second day in a row the political opposition roasted the federal government over possible political interference.

The PMO and Lametti's office say they haven't contacted by the police, while Wilson-Raybould declined to comment.