Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday February 7, 2019 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Ethics watchdog probes alleged PMO interference in SNC-Lavalin case

Trudeau’s aides are alleged to have lobbied against the public prosecutor pursuing criminal charges

The New Democrats said Monday that federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is looking into allegations the Prime Minister’s Office improperly tried to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

The NDP asked Dion last week to examine whether Justin Trudeau’s aides leaned on former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to have the public prosecutor forge a remediation deal with the engineering firm instead of pursuing bribery and fraud charges.

READ MORE: Opposition parties push for emergency meeting on SNC-Lavalin case

Charlie Angus, the party’s ethics critic, said in a statement that Trudeau promised Canadians he would change the way politics worked in Ottawa, but instead his Liberal government “continues to prioritize helping insiders and the rich get ahead. Canadians deserve better.”

Word of the probe came shortly after a Liberal MP joined opposition calls for a parliamentary investigation into the matter.

New Brunswick MP Wayne Long said in a statement posted to social media that he was “extremely troubled” when the allegation surfaced last week and nothing he has heard since has made him feel less unsettled.

“How the law treats individuals or corporations in our society is not, and should never be, incumbent upon the political pressure they can exert upon politicians,” he said.

Long stressed he’s not “rushing to any judgment” in the matter, but believes “a full and transparent investigation” by the House of Commons justice committee is necessary. For that reason, he said he supports an opposition motion to launch an inquiry.

Conservatives and New Democrats on the justice committee joined forces to get an emergency meeting on Wednesday to consider a motion calling on nine high-ranking government officials to testify, including Wilson-Raybould herself. The list also includes David Lametti, who replaced Wilson-Raybould as attorney general in a January cabinet shuffle, the prime minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, and his principal secretary, Gerald Butts.

Lametti, meanwhile, faced a fresh round of questions about the simmering political controversy after speaking to a Canadian Bar Association meeting Monday. However, he emphasized it would be inappropriate to comment on an issue before the courts.

“I’m the attorney general,” he said. “So I’m not going to say anything that could be interpreted in any way, shape or form as compromising that position.”

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported last week that Trudeau’s aides pressed Wilson-Raybould to help avoid a prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on charges stemming from alleged business activities in Libya.

The newspaper said Wilson-Raybould was shuffled to the veterans-affairs portfolio after she refused to get the public prosecutor to negotiate a remediation deal with the company, a means of acknowledging wrongdoing without a criminal conviction.

The Liberal government maintains that while discussions on the matter took place with Wilson-Raybould, she wasn’t pressured or told to issue a directive to the prosecutor.

Trudeau, who is in B.C. on Monday, is also likely to face questions about the nature of those closed-door discussions.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Here’s the latest on the proposed inland port development process

Council to discuss proposal Sept. 28, public hearing to be held approximately one month later

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Financial fallback plan in place for Mills Memorial replacement

That’s in case province rejects first submission

Local Skeena candidates for the Oct. 24 snap election

Current BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross will be running again, as will Nicole Halbauer for BC NDP

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read