PM Denies SNC-Lavalin interference or pressure resulting in Wilson-Raybould transfer

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on being transferred to Veteran Affairs file

 

By Turtle Island News

OTTAWA- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on the hot seat after allegations of the PMO putting political pressure on former Attorney General and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould surfaced today

The Globe and Mail states that while she was Attorney General, the Prime Minister’s office had pressured her to help construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. avoid a criminal prosecution. The story infers that her transfer from Justice Minister was a result of her refusal to negotiate a deal with SNC-Lavalin despite the pressure from the Prime Minister’s office.

SNC-Lavalin is in court in Montreal on charges of fraud and corruption in connection with payments of nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya as well as allegations it defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated $130 million. As the Attorney General, Wilson-Raybould could have stepped in and directed federal prosecutors to negotiate a remediation agreement that would have seen the charges dropped. In this scenario SNC-Lavalin would have admitted responsibility and taken remedial steps such as paying a fine or adopting compliance rules.

While neither Wilson-Raybould or SNC-Lavalin have responded to the story, Prime Minister Trudeau was quick to call the allegations false.

“Neither the current nor previous attorney general was ever directed by me or anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.” Trudeau said during a visit to Vaughan Ontario on February 7th. While he denied the allegations, he nor his office have requested the Globe and Mail to retract the story.

The Globe and Mail responded to the PM by saying that they never said he ‘directed’ Wilson-Raybould but that the Prime Minister’s office pressured her.

The allegations and Trudeau’s denial have drawn the ire of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

“Nothing short of full disclosure is acceptable.” Scheer told reporters on Parliament Hill. “His (Trudeau’s) carefully crafted and legally vetted answers today fall far short in this regard. If he continues to fail to be transparent with Canadian, Conservatives will make every effort and explore every option to make sure Justin Trudeau and his office are held accountable….We’re talking about allegations the prime minister or his office exerted a great deal of pressure and when they didn’t get the answer they liked, they fired the Minister of Justice.”

It is not known whether the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti, a former lawyer and the Montreal MP, will revisit the decision not to grant a remediation agreement.

Publicly both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and new Minister of Veterans Affairs Jody Wilson-Raybould said the right things about her transfer from Minister of Justice and Attorney General. The move was widely viewed as a demotion despite Prime Minister Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould saying otherwise.

“There is no world in which I would consider working for our veterans in Canada as a demotion.” Jody said following the move. While there is merit to her statement, one must only compare her reaction upon being named Minister of Justice in 2015, with the reaction to being named Veterans Affairs Minister in 2019 to see her obvious disappointment.

Disappointment which is warranted as Wilson-Raybould, a former B.C. Regional Chief, was one of Trudeau’s star candidates heading into the last election.   Wilson-Raybould was also Canada’s first Indigenous Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Yet there were still questions as to why a Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada who had accomplished nearly everything from her mandate letter, was being reassigned. In a statement released after the move, Jody Wilson-Raybould dropped some hints as to why she was moved.”It is my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. This is how I served through my tenure in that role.” Wilson-Raybould said.

Flash forward several weeks and a report by the Globe and Mail states that while she was Attorney General, the Prime Minister’s office had pressured her to help construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. avoid a criminal prosecution. The story infers that her transfer from Justice Minister was a result of her refusal to negotiate a deal with SNC-Lavalin despite the pressure from the Prime Minister’s office.

Now Veterans Affairs Minister Wilson-Raybould refused to comment today.

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