Published: Fri, March 01, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Lavalin: Trudeau denies wrongdoing in corruption case

Lavalin: Trudeau denies wrongdoing in corruption case

Trudeau's government has been on the defensive since the Globe and Mail newspaper reported February 7 that Trudeau or his staff pressured her to try to avoid a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin over allegations of corruption involving government contracts in Libya.

Jody Wilson-Raybould testified on Wednesday that she was under considerable pressure from the prime minister's office concerning SNC-Lavalin.

The company was facing allegations of corruption involving government contracts in Libya.

Jody Wilson-Raybould was testifying before parliament's justice committee, which is investigating purported meddling by senior government officials in fraud prosecution of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin - claims that have touched off a political firestorm just eight months before elections.

In one such conversation with Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould said he told her to "find a solution" to the case because there were jobs at stake and a risk that the company's headquarters could be moved to the United Kingdom. Wilson-Raybould says she even faced "veiled threats" after she made it clear she would not budge on the matter.

The firm has openly lobbied to be allowed to enter into a remediation agreement instead of going to trial, saying it has cleaned house and changed its ways. Jagmeet Singh, leader of the third-place New Democratic Party, called for a full public inquiry. And reminders from Justin Trudeau to his Attorney General about his own electoral prospects should she allow SNC-Lavalin's trial to proceed.

The Prime Minister has also won the public support of a key political ally, foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, who is seen as a potential successor to the leader.

But the most egregious pressure came the following day, on December 19, when Wilson-Raybould said she received what she deemed to be three "veiled threats" from the clerk of the Privy Council, Wernick, that she could lose her job.

Trudeau has said there were vigorous discussions within government about the SNC-Lavalin case, but that he repeatedly assured Wilson-Raybould a decision on intervening to halt the prosecution was hers alone.

Opposition parties have been ramping up pressure on the prime minister and the Conservatives have said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police must immediately open an investigation.

When asked about her testimony on the pressure to which she was subjected, Hardie said, "Was there pressure?"

"I was entirely comfortable that I had the appropriate context in which to make my decision", she said.

Wilson-Raybould said that she believed she was shuffled because she would not bow to the relentless pressure. Trudeau says she had asked to speak there and was invited to do so but cabinet confidentiality means nothing can be revealed about why or what was said. "I never raised this issue with Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould", said Morneau, who also acknowledged that, as per her testimony, the former attorney general approached him about the issue on September 19.

Only weeks later, Trudeau's chief adviser, and one of his closest confidants, Gerald Butts resigned abruptly from his position as principal secretary in the PMO.

She said there would be merits in separating the roles of attorney general and justice minister.

In an unusual move, Ms Freeland appeared on the Canadian broadcaster CBC to say she fully backed Trudeau. The country's top civil servant last week told the committee he believes there was no improper pressure applied to Wilson-Raybould by him or anyone else.

The former attorney general said during her testimony this week that she viewed her demotion as reminiscent of the infamous Saturday Night Massacre, a key moment in the U.S. Watergate scandal that saw former President Richard Nixon fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox before accepting the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.

Like this: