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

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 9, 2019

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she can not discuss allegations that she was pressured by the Prime Minister's Office to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution.

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.

In a statement Friday morning, Wilson-Raybould says she is bound by solicitor-client privilege and can not publicly talk about aspects of the case.

In a statement Friday morning, Wilson-Raybould, now veterans-affairs minister, said she is bound as the former attorney general by solicitor-client privilege and can not publicly talk about aspects of the case.

Wilson-Raybould moved from being attorney general to minister of Veterans Affairs on January 14.

The Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday that Mr. Trudeau's office attempted to press Ms. Wilson-Raybould to get the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to shelve court proceedings against SNC Lavalin in favour of a negotiated deal without trial.

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

It appears a corporation that has in the past made illegal donations to the Liberal party, among others, was able to influence the government to the point of changing the law and pressuring the attorney general to interfere with a decision of the public prosecutor, Singh said. "His carefully crafted and legally vetted answers today fall far short in this regard", Scheer told reporters on Parliament Hill.

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.

They spoke on condition their names not be used.

In the extensive conversations with Lametti about his new job, the matter was never mentioned, the source added.

Conservative MP Mark Strahl baldly accused the government of firing Wilson-Raybould for failing to follow orders. Lametti said neither he nor Wilson-Raybould were ever directed or pressured to intervene with the director of public prosecutions to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould's father, Bill Wilson, said in a Facebook post Thursday that his daughter's cabinet demotion "makes sense now - ugly political sense".

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.

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