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

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

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

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.

The company is facing allegations that it bribed Libyan officials millions of dollars to secure government contracts.

Wilson-Raybould, now minister of Veterans Affairs, said Friday she would not comment on claims that the Prime Minister's Office tried to pressure her to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in pending legal action against the construction company.

Questions over whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or anyone in his office "directed" Canada's former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to abandon the prosecution of a case against SNC-Lavalin dominated question period on Thursday, following a denial from the prime minister.

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould at a swearing in ceremony on January 14, 2019. The agreement is a way of holding a company accountable for what it did, but the company itself would not be accountable for the actions of its employees.

"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.

Last October, Kathleen Roussel, the director of public prosecutions, informed SNC-Lavalin that negotiating a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this particular case.

"Mr. Speaker, at no point has the current minister of justice or the former minister of justice been directed or pressured by the prime minister or the Prime Minister's Office to make any decision on this or any other matter", Virani said.

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Tory Leader Andrew Scheer also suggested Friday morning that his party is looking at pursuing unspecified "legal avenues" if the governing Liberals "continue to cover this up".

The attorney general is thus allowed to direct prosecutors - but crucially, the direction must appear in a government publication called the Canada Gazette, which is viewable by the public.

"If the prime minister has nothing to hide, as he has suggested, then he should have no reason to fear these individuals appearing before the justice committee", Scheer said in a Friday morning news conference on Parliament Hill.

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"All this cries out for some serious investigation", Singh said in a telephone interview with the Canadian Press. Singh also pointed to sections in the Act which govern "Influence" and "Insider Information" as potential sources of other violations. She was replaced as attorney general by lawmaker David Lametti.

She has refused to comment on the alleged pressure from PMO to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial, telling the Globe and Mail that the matter is "between me and the government as the government's previous lawyer".

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".

CTV News has asked Jody Wilson-Raybould for comment on the story and her office said she will not be commenting today.

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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