Trudeau government faces ethics probe over SNC-Lavalin fraud case
12 Février, 2019, 04:53 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
Trudeau denies the allegations but Dion has decided they're worth investigating.
Last week, the Globe and Mail newspaper alleged that the prime minister's office had pressured former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the case against the Quebec-based engineering giant.
SNC-Lavalin has been charged with corruption and bribery in a bid to win government contracts in Libya.
Trudeau said he still has "full confidence" in Wilson-Raybould and that he respects her citing solicitor-client privilege as the reason why she has not yet publically commented on the reported allegations that have rocked Parliament Hill.
In the meantime, he said Wilson-Raybould "confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone". When asked about the probe, Trudeau said he welcomed the investigation.
He also didn't confirm or deny that his office is considering a deferred-prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin, which would hold off criminal charges.
The newspaper says Wilson-Raybould was shuffled to the veterans affairs portfolio after she refused to direct the public prosecutor to forge a remediation deal with the company, which would have bypassed criminal charges.
According to the Globe, Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to play along and did not follow through despite the high-level pressure.
The investigation was launched after Canada's Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Mario Dion, agreed to the investigation request from the federal NDP.
"We spoke about our shared goals for our country and for this government", he said, adding that her "presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself". The NDP had asked Dion to look into the matter.
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"Justin Trudeau promised Canadians he would change the way politics worked in Ottawa, but instead his Liberal government continues to prioritize helping insiders and the rich get ahead".
New Brunswick MP Wayne Long says in a statement posted to social media that he was "extremely troubled" when the allegation surfaced last week and nothing he has heard since has made him feel less unsettled.
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"How the law treats individuals or corporations in our society is not, and should never be, incumbent upon the political pressure they can exert upon politicians", he said.
Long stresses he's not "rushing to any judgment" in the matter, but believes "a full and transparent investigation" by the House of Commons justice committee is necessary to provide answers in the affair. Over the weekend, the Toronto Star reported that the majority-Liberal committee is likely to block the opposition's attempt to launch a study of the allegations.
At an emergency meeting Wednesday, MPs will vote on a motion calling for nine government officials, including Wilson-Raybould and senior PMO staff, to testify about the allegations.
After speaking to a Canadian Bar Association meeting Monday, Lametti emphasized it would be inappropriate to comment on an issue before the courts. He did say there was nothing wrong with Wilson-Raybould being involved in internal discussions about whether to let SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial. "These discussions can improve the quality of decision-making", Lametti said.
"There is a line that can not be crossed: telling the attorney general what a decision ought to be". That would be interference.
"As the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter", she said.
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