Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Trudeau denies his office 'directed' Jody Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin

Trudeau denies his office 'directed' Jody Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin

Was the PMO applying pressure on the Attorney General in an attempt to influence the minister to persuade her prosecutors to move away from the pursuit of criminal corruption and fraud prosecution against worldwide and Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavelin, opting instead for remediation.

They argue the discussions were all perfectly within the law and, indeed, the government would have been remiss not to deliberate over the fate of the Quebec engineering and construction giant given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company and put thousands of Canadians out of work.

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

As part of a cabinet shuffle last month, Trudeau reassigned Wilson-Raybould from the justice portfolio to become Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense.

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

During the heady days of Justin Trudeau's "because it's 2015" declaration, Wilson-Raybould's ascension to the role of the nation's top justice official defined the moment.

"If the Prime Minister truly believes there is no wrongdoing here, he should invite the ethics commissioner to investigate his office's dealings with SNC-Lavalin and whether or not that was a factor in the removal of Ms. Wilson-Raybould from her position as attorney general", Singh wrote in a statement on Friday.

The federal director of public prosecutions told SNC-Lavalin in October that negotiating a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this particular case.


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".

The attorney general can give the director of public prosecutions directives on general issues and on individual cases, provided the directives are in writing and published in the Canada Gazette, the federal register.

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters on Friday that MPs from his party, with the help of the NDP, will call an emergency meeting of the committee next week, where they'll present a motion to hear from nine members of the Trudeau inner circle.

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

The New Democrats have since officially requested an investigation from the Ethic's Commissioner.

"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. Montrealer David Lametti took over as attorney general and justice minister.

In a lengthy post about leaving the justice department that Wilson-Raybould made the day of the shuffle, she stated "it is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence". In turn, officials said that would likely cause foreign government contracts to dry up as well, potentially putting SNC-Lavalin out of business.

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

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