Sunday, 05 April, 2020

Canadian prime minister violated conflict of interest rules in SNC-Lavalin probe

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is shown Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is shown
Deanna Wagner | 18 August, 2019, 14:10

Independent parliamentary ethics commissioner Mario Dion said Trudeau and his officials had wrongly sought to "exert influence over the attorney general in her decision whether to intervene in a matter relating to a criminal prosecution".

It's the first time she's acknowledged speaking to the police about her role in the scandal that rocked the Trudeau government since last February.

Richard Devlin, a Dalhousie University law professor, said in an email that in general, "we absolutely need much stronger rules about what judges can do after they retire, as the activities of some, but not all, retired judges are undermining public confidence in the the fairness of the legal system".

While Trudeau had previously denied any allegations of using his position as Prime Minister to influence the Attorney General's decision, Wednesday's report found him to have breached Section 9 of the federal Conflict of Interest Act, which is specifically created to ensure high-ranking members of the government can not use their powers to influence private interests.

The decision related to charges laid against SNC-Lavalin for criminal offences that allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2011.

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said in an August 16 statement that Trudeau "waged a sustained campaign of misinformation, deceit and manipulation to cover up the truth from Canadians" and called on Liberal House of Commons Ethics Committee members to vote in favour of an investigation into these revelations at an emergency committee meeting next week.

"I was always taught that when you do something wrong, you apologize for it", Wilson-Raybould said in an interview with talk radio host Charles Adler. Trudeau apparently was concerned over the economic impact of the prosecution on the company, and by extension the political impact on the province of Quebec-where Trudeau's riding is, and where the Liberals won 40 of 78 ridings in 2015. Her refusal to overrule the decision of the prosecutors to refuse pursuing the remediation option led to her demotion in January's cabinet reshuffle.

Even Trudeau's predictable, bromide-laced response to Dion's evisceration of him is further evidence of how he goes about recycling the same, exhausted responses of so many other politicians who have had their private natures and shenanigans exposed.

Trudeau and his advisors have steadfastly maintained there was no undue pressure and they hadn't sought to undermine Wilson-Raybould's authority.

The NDP and Conservatives have both called on Trudeau to say that he's sorry. The New Democrats, who placed second with about 27 per cent of the vote in 2015, chose climate activist Yvonne Hanson as their candidate.

In April, Smith recalled Wednesday, when Wilson-Raybould and ex-cabinet minister Jane Philpott were expelled from the Liberal caucus, Bagnell told local media he was "saddened" by their departure. On Wednesday, Dion shredded Trudeau's credibility, integrity and quite possibly his chances of being re-elected in October.

London Stock Exchange opening delayed
The investigation into the issue continues and the LSE will provide an update at 9:15am London time, the LSE said. Business resumed as usual at just before 10am.

"The continuous discussions around it, without offering any additional information and injecting political considerations, was completely inappropriate and the ethics commissioner stated as such", she said. A damning document, it confirms Wilson-Raybould's version of events.

But how did the Trudeau government know what those consequences might be? Trudeau's government had already passed legislation creating an escape hatch for SNC-Lavalin, but felt stymied when Wilson-Raybould's department concluded it didn't qualify under the new law's provisions.

In offering weasel words, Trudeau disrespects the citizens he claims to serve.

So what happens now?

Justin Trudeau made history in December 2017 when he became the first sitting prime minister to break federal ethics laws, after it was determined that he wrongly accepted an all-expenses paid trip to the Aga Khan's private island a year earlier for a family vacation. They justify doing whatever the Prime Minister believes needs to be done.

The timing of the release of Dion's report was a surprise, but that it was coming at some point had to be known.

With two months until election day, however, the hand of scandal has re-emerged.

It might not matter. "Politicians, they get rewarded #TrudeauMustResign #TrudeauMustGoToJail". In effect, they're parroting the Liberal Party line: "Nothing to see here, folks".

It's tempting to speculate that Dion wanted to avoid having a Canadian version of the Comey letter emerge right before the election.

In addition to Dion, he wants the committee to hear from the prime minister, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Trudeau's adviser Ben Chin.