Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

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

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

"At no time did I or my office direct the current or previous attorney-general to make any particular decision in this matter", Mr. Trudeau told reporters on Thursday at a transit-related appearance in Vaughan, Ont.

In the bombshell report from The Globe and Mail we now understand truly what she meant, because when the now former justice minister refused to drop the fraud and corruption trial against SNC Lavalin, she was sacked.

On Friday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ask the Federal Ethics Commissioner to investigate the government's actions regarding SNC-Lavalin which may have resulted in the removal of Jody Wilson-Raybould from her position as Attorney General of Canada.

The prime minister wanted to avoid leaving the impression that no one ever discussed the issue, given that SNC-Lavalin was heavily lobbying government officials, the source said.

The news, first reported by The Globe & Mail, was shot down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a odd non-denial denial.

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).

"Even more shocking, the prime minister may have fired her from her role as our country's first Indigenous justice minister and attorney general", said McLeod, the Conservative party's Indigenous Affairs critic. Chief Executive Officer Neil Bruce said in December that the impasse over the case cost the company more than $5 billion in lost contracts.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the allegations suggest Trudeau demoted his attorney general for defying his orders, and he called on the prime minister to immediately reveal what he knew about the matter.

The Official Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister's response Thursday morning was insufficient and scripted.

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".

While SNC-Lavalin has the right to be assumed innocent and to a fair trial, it has "no right or entitlement" under common or criminal law to be invited to negotiate a remediation agreement, the director said.

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

In a statement Friday morning, Wilson-Raybould says she is bound by solicitor-client privilege and can not publicly talk about aspects of the case.

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

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in extensive, internal government discussions last fall about whether SNC-Lavalin should be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution - and government officials maintain there's nothing wrong with that. Three months later, Wilson-Raybould was moved to the veterans affairs post, a move widely seen as a demotion. Much deeper. Wilson-Raybould was unable to mask still-evident shock.

However, 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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