Friday, 22 February, 2019

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

Jody Wilson Raybould				
			Adrian Wyld  THE CANADIAN PRESS Jody Wilson Raybould Adrian Wyld THE CANADIAN PRESS
Doris Mccormick | 12 February, 2019, 02:26

During a visit to Vaughan, Ont., on Thursday, Trudeau said the allegations in the newspaper story "are false".

The report says some of Trudeau's aides pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to negotiate a "remediation agreement".

The Globe and Mail says the Prime Minister's Office put pressure on then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to broker a deal in a case involving fraud allegations against engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

McLeod said while the prime minister may not have "directed" Wilson-Raybould to abandon prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, even asking, suggesting or pressuring is "totally inappropriate".

Some pretty hefty allegations have come out against the prime minister's office.

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).

Justice Minister David Lametti speaks during question period in the House of Commons on February 7, 2019. Chief Executive Officer Neil Bruce said in December that the impasse over the case cost the company more than $5 billion in lost contracts.

Scheer also said he would support the suggestion by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to have the ethics commissioner investigate the allegations of political interference.

SNC-Lavalin was charged in 2015 by the RCMP and openly called for a remediation agreement to avoid damaging the company, a major employer in Quebec.

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.

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

During question period in the House of Commons, Lametti also denied engaging in discussions about SNC-Lavalin before his appointment.

"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. "Tell us what happened, be transparent, invite the ethics commissioner to investigate and tell us that this is not the case or, if it is the case, then there's a serious reckoning that needs to happen".

"As the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter", Wilson-Raybould wrote in a statement on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould at a swearing in ceremony on January 14, 2019.

"Messing with the administration of justice is not just bad politics".

In her letter to Canadians she warned that an attorney general must speak truth to power and that "It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference".

Singh also pointed out that the demotion of Wilson-Raybould was met with anger from important stakeholders including the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

In its October 19 submission to the Federal Court, SNC-Lavalin said while the public prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to open negotiations on a remediation agreement, this discretion "is not unfettered and must be exercised reasonably" under the law.

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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