Trudeau denies claim PMO pressured AG to drop SNC-Lavalin case

Jody Wilson Raybould				
			Adrian Wyld  THE CANADIAN PRESS

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod said she is "deeply disturbed" by the explosive allegations raised in a Globe and Mail story, allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office pressured then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to abandon the criminal prosecution of Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin.

"All we've heard are allegations in a newspaper", Lametti, who replaced Wilson-Raybould when she was shuffled into the Veterans' Affairs portfolio last month, told CTV's Question Period host Evan Solomon.

"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 told the House of Commons on Friday.

Given the jobs at stake, officials said, the government would have failed in its duty had there not been discussion about whether to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case.

"The director of public prosecutions has independence in the sense that the attorney general can not give a direction, whether it is a broad policy direction or a specific direction on any given case, without that direction being in writing and Gazetted", Wild said.

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As to whether Wilson-Raybould is truly bound to secrecy on this by solicitor-client privilege, as she insists she is, it is hard to say for certain without knowing exactly what she discussed with the Prime Minister's Office.

Moreover, as justice minister, Wilson-Raybould was responsible for a 2018 Criminal Code amendment at the heart of the current controversy - which specifically allowed for what's known as deferred prosecutions or remediation agreements to be negotiated rather than pursue criminal prosecutions against corporations. The Ethics Commissioner should also investigate if Justin Trudeau was one of the recipients of the illegal donations.

"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. If either the PMO or Wilson-Raybould had tried to direct the prosecutor's office without making that instruction public, that would violate the law.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", Singh said in a telephone interview with the Canadian Press. It would also mean the criminal prosecution against the company would not continue.

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. "This is not what we are seeing here", Mr. Scheer said.

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"At the end of the day, Canadians deserve to have a government on their side, on the side of justice, not on the side of a multinational corporation".

The Conflict of Interest Act prohibits a member of the government from giving "preferential treatment to any person or organization based on the identity of the person or organization".

That left her successor at Justice, Lametti, to fend off opposition charges on Thursday of political interference in the justice system.

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.

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". According to the media reports, Wilson-Raybould was being asked to have a deal made in the case. He predicted "history will prove that she did the right thing".

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