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

Just Posted

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

The long winding road to Tofino-Ucluelet—then and now

If you are feeling frustrated about the Highway 4 closures, sit back read about what came before.

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Farm and Garden Show coming to Tofino

Greenthumbs unite at the Tofino Botanical Gardens from Feb. 22-24.

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG Canada

Singh has tried to project unity in the party while facing internal criticism for poor fundraising and low support in the polls

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

Most Read