Federal public prosecutor asks court to strike SNC-Lavalin plea for deal

Pat Wise
February 10, 2019

Was the PMO applying pressure on the Attorney General in an attempt to influence the minister to persuade her prosecutors to move away from the pursuit of criminal corruption and fraud prosecution against global and Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavelin, opting instead for remediation.

However, the question is: Did anyone in the Prime Minister's Office, at any time, communicate with anyone in the former Attorney General's office on the matter of the criminal prosecution of SNC Lavalin, yes or no?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied on Thursday a report that his office intervened in the prosecution of Canadian construction giant SNC-Lavalin on charges of fraud and corruption.

However, Rankin was not optimistic that Wilson-Raybould would answer questions about the case, even if the committee votes in favour of a study, as she was shuffled out of the justice portfolio and named minister of veterans affairs last month, a move widely seen as a demotion.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould at a swearing in ceremony on January 14, 2019.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to instruct the director of the service, Kathleen Roussel, to negotiate a "remediation agreement" with SNC-Lavalin, according to sources who were granted anonymity to speak directly about what went on behind-the-scenes.

Speaking to reporters in the House of Commons foyer, he said "the Prime Minister himself appears to have fired his own attorney-general for refusing to bow to his demands". "Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or by anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter".

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The attorney general can give the director of public prosecutions directives on general issues and on individual cases, provided the directives are in writing and published in the Canada Gazette, the federal register.

"If there is any going to be any discussion from very high levels in the government to grant an exemption ... to a company when we are talking about very serious criminal prosecutions, that must be done with full transparency". The Conservatives' Scheer and the New Democrats' Singh both called Friday for an ethics probe into the allegations.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the allegations suggest Trudeau demoted his attorney general for defying his orders, and he called on the prime minister to immediately reveal what he knew about the matter.

Speaking on CTV's Power Play, Conservative MP Lisa Raitt said that Trudeau should "come clean" on exactly what happened.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation, " he said in a telephone interview from Burnaby, where he is campaigning for a seat in the House of Commons in a February 25 byelection.

Democracy Watch suggested other possible violations of the act, including a provision stating that elected officials must not use their positions to improperly influence decisions. Taking the questions in Trudeau's absence was Canada's current Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Quebec MP David Lametti.

The relationship between federal prosecutors and the attorney general was reshaped in 2006 with the The Director of Public Prosecutions Act, contained in an accountability bill passed by the Conservative government of the day under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In turn, officials said that would likely cause foreign government contracts to dry up as well, potentially putting SNC-Lavalin out of business. He predicted "history will prove that she did the right thing".

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