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

Jody Wilson-Raybould

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

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.

"The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false", he said.

The former federal attorney general is refusing to either sink or protect her prime minister - but it's clear the days of hugs and mutual admiration tweets are history. "Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter", the prime minister said Thursday morning in Vaughan, Ont. "He takes those responsibilities very seriously".

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.

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

"His carefully crafted and legally vetted answers today fall far short in this regard", Scheer told reporters on Parliament Hill.

"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 on Friday.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", Singh said in a telephone interview with the Canadian Press.

Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin
Former attorney general says she can’t publicly discuss SNC Lavalin allegations

The Globe and Mail has reported-citing sources speaking on condition of anonymity- that Wilson-Raybould was leaned on to have federal prosecutors pursue the remediation agreement but she was unwilling. The idea behind it is that a corporation should be held to account for wrongdoing without facing a prosecution that could bankrupt the company and make innocent employees pay the price for the actions of some unethical executives. After lobbying by the company of government officials, including those in the PMO, the government included in its 2018 budget a Criminal Code amendment to allow such agreements to be negotiated in cases of corporate crime, as is done in the United States and the United Kingdom.

SNC-Lavalin shares tumbled in October after prosecutors ruled out a negotiated settlement over past corruption charges.

Both Scheer and Singh argue the issue cuts to the heart of our democracy and independent system of justice. "This is not what we are seeing here", Mr. Scheer said.

If passed, the committee would hear from Wilson-Raybould, new Attorney General David Lametti, Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, Trudeau's principal secretary Gerald Butts, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, director of public prosecutions Kathleen Roussel, senior PMO advisers Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques; and Wilson-Raybould's chief of staff Jessica Prince.

"She's always sort of been in it for herself".

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.

For the second day in a row the political opposition roasted the federal government over possible political interference.

Asked whether he or his office had applied any influence or pressure on the minister, Trudeau repeated they had never directed Wilson-Raybould or Lametti to intervene.

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