Opposition Leaders Push for Emergency Meeting on SNC-Lavalin Probe

  • Opposition Leaders Push for Emergency Meeting on SNC-Lavalin Probe

Opposition Leaders Push for Emergency Meeting on SNC-Lavalin Probe

The federal Conservatives are calling for several senior Trudeau staffers and cabinet ministers to appear before the House justice committee to respond to allegations that the Prime Minister's Office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin.

The Quebec engineering and construction giant has faced legal trouble over allegations it paid millions of dollars in bribes to get government business in Libya, which would be a crime under Canadian law.

Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the justice portfolio last month, with Trudeau naming her veterans affairs minister. "MPs have a duty to determine what exactly happened here and Justin Trudeau and his office must be forthcoming". It would also mean the criminal prosecution against the company would not continue. 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 allegations in the Globe story this morning are false", he said at a press conference in Vaughan.

"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. Lametti said neither he nor Wilson-Raybould were ever directed or pressured to intervene with the director of public prosecutions to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

The Globe reports that SNC-Lavalin repeatedly lobbied Justin Trudeau's aides for a deal and Trudeau's office leaned on Wilson-Raybould to make it happen.

Mr. Scheer called for "full disclosure" from Mr. Trudeau on the interactions between the PMO and Ms. Wilson-Raybould regarding SNC-Lavalin.

Scheer says Conservatives on the House of Commons justice committee, along with the New Democrats, will also force an emergency meeting to consider a motion calling on nine high-ranking government officials to testify, including Wilson-Raybould herself.

He said what has transpired with the SNC Lavalin prosecution and efforts by the company to reach a negotiated settlement should be made public for Canadians.

Meantime, the parliamentary secretary to justice has offered the most sweeping denial yet from the Trudeau government.

They spoke on condition their names not be used.

In the extensive conversations with Lametti about his new job, the matter was never mentioned, the source added. She was replaced as attorney general by lawmaker David Lametti.

Conservative MP Mark Strahl baldly accused the government of firing Wilson-Raybould for failing to follow orders.

"As the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter", she said. This Globe and Mailstory strongly suggests the answer is yes, to both questions.

The fact that such directives must be done publicly is meant to constrain a justice minister from doing anything overtly political.

Analyst Yuri Lynk of Canaccord Genuity said the reputational damage of a looming corruption case could hurt SNC-Lavalin more than a ban on federal contract bidding for up to 10 years - one possible outcome of a conviction if the case heads to trial. "It hurts their reputation", he said.