Former Ontario Attorney General says allegations against Trudeau must be investigated further

Jody Wilson-Raybould

Former Ontario Attorney General says allegations against Trudeau must be investigated further

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Thursday that SNC-Lavalin repeatedly lobbied Trudeau's aides for a remediation deal and that his office pressed Wilson-Raybould to make it happen, bumping her from the attorney general's post after she refused.

The company, based in Canada's Quebec province, was charged with corruption and fraud in connection with payments of almost 36 million USA dollars in bribes to public officials in the former Libyan government of late leader Muammar Gaddafi and defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated 98 million dollars between 2001 and 2011.

In the bombshell report from The Globe and Mail we now understand truly what she meant, because when the now former justice minister refused to drop the fraud and corruption trial against SNC Lavalin, she was sacked.

The Conservatives and NDP are demanding investigations by a Commons committee and the federal ethics commissioner into allegations Wilson-Raybould was pressured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office.

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.

The SNC Lavalin affair dominated the House of Commons question period on Thursday.

"The chief argument that has been made against DPAs is that they may not deter misconduct", said the draft discussion paper on the topic prepared for the deputy minister of finance as a primer ahead of public consultations on the idea in the fall of 2017.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", Singh said in a telephone interview with the Canadian Press.

"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", Trudeau said on Thursday.

In response, Arif Virani, parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, repeated over and over the same line that has been the Liberals' only response on the matter: "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".

SNC-Lavalin shares tumbled in October after prosecutors ruled out a negotiated settlement over past corruption charges.

"If he truly wants to clear this up and believes there's been no wrongdoing, he should welcome an investigation from the ethics commissioner".

"As the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter", Wilson-Raybould wrote in a statement on Friday. In turn, officials said that would likely cause foreign government contracts to dry up as well, potentially putting SNC-Lavalin out of business.

Both Scheer and Singh argue the issue cuts to the heart of our democracy and independent system of justice.

Wilson-Raybould has offered a "no comment" and other remarks that do not deny the substance of the allegations and have only left observers asking more questions.

When asked about any conversations with Ms. Wilson-Raybould about the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, Mr. Trudeau would only say "we have a tremendous, positive working relationship with all members of our cabinet". Scheer called for committee hearings into allegations of political influence into SNC-Lavalin's criminal case.

However, the fact that such directives must be done publicly would seem to constrain a justice minister from doing anything overtly political.

Speaker Pelosi admonishes freshman Omar over Israel tweet
Venezuela's Maduro facing growing pressure over humanitarian aid