Globe: PMO pressured justice minister to help SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution

09 Février, 2019, 18:51 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin

Canada's former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in government discussions last fall about whether engineering firm SNC-Lavalin should be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution, and the talks were perfectly legal, government officials have told The Canadian Press.

Asked whether he or his office had applied any influence or pressure on the minister, Trudeau repeated they had never directed Wilson-Raybould or Lametti to intervene.

Asked directly about the case, Trudeau said: "The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false".

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).

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

Last October, Kathleen Roussel, the director of public prosecutions, informed SNC-Lavalin that negotiating a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this particular case. On the matter of issuing directives to the director of public prosecutions (or "DPP"), the document says: "It is appropriate for the attorney general to consult with cabinet colleagues before exercising his or her powers under the DPP Act in respect of any criminal proceedings, in order to fully assess the public policy considerations relevant to specific prosecutorial decisions". In turn, officials said that would likely cause foreign government contracts to dry up as well, potentially putting SNC-Lavalin out of business.

Officials pointed to a document entitled "Open and Accountable Government" on the PMO website, which spells out the conduct expected of ministers, including a lengthy section on the dual role of the justice minister and attorney general.

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At no point was there an attempt to influence Wilson-Raybould, added the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the file publicly.

Conservative and NDP members pressed the government for details of any conversations that may have taken place on the file in government circles, including between the Prime Minister's Office and the attorney general's office.

Lametti repeatedly said the Prime Minister's Office had not given directives to him or his predecessor on the matter, nor had he or Wilson-Raybould been pressed on the case.

Under the law, the attorney general may issue a directive to the director of public prosecutions on how to handle a specific case, provided the directive is in writing and made public.

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

"In my mind, it's worse just to have this hanging over the company's head for another several years". "Their competitors would always be reminding clients that you're dealing with someone with outstanding charges against it in its own country".

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