Canada's ethics commissioner launches investigation against Prime Minister's office

Marco Green
February 12, 2019

Canada's ethics csar will examine allegations the prime minister's office may have improperly tried to help a firm avoid a criminal trial.

Trudeau wouldn't commit to that on Monday, and instead told reporters he has asked his new attorney general, David Lametti, to review that option and report back.

Guelph's MP says it isn't up to backbenchers like himself to call for an open and transparent investigation into an allegation that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by the Prime Minister's Office to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

SNC-Lavalin has been charged with corruption and bribery in a bid to win government contracts in Libya.

Remediation agreements, otherwise known as a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, can include having the company accept responsibility, denounce the wrongdoing, vow to implement corrective measures, and pay financial penalties.

The Canadian PressPrime Minister Justin Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Jodie Wilson-Raybould attend a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. On Friday, she issued a statement to explain her silence on the subject.

"The issue of solicitor-client privilege is not a simple one so I have asked our attorney general to provide me with advice on this matter", he said.

"But in the present situation, they must be subordinated to a higher value: the confidence of Canadians in the integrity, fairness and impartiality of our criminal justice system", Scheer wrote.

"I also am seeking answers that will clear the air regarding exactly what happened here, and, because I was raised to believe that full transparency is always the best approach to addressing such uncertainty, I believe that a full and transparent investigation is necessary to ensure that my constituents, and all Canadians, can be confident in (the) veracity of those answers", he said in a statement.

The ethics investigation comes as the House of Commons justice committee prepares to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon to debate a motion calling for Wilson-Raybould and several senior officials in the PMO to testify about the allegations of political interference.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver that he's asked Lametti to advise him on the "complex matter" of solicitor-client privilege.

Dion informed the NDP MPs who requested the investigation Monday that there is sufficient cause to proceed with an inquiry into the actions of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on this matter.

However, Wilson-Raybould was not in attendance at the event, despite representing a neighbouring riding.

Trudeau said that he has met with Wilson-Raybould "a couple of times" since arriving in B.C. over the weekend. Trudeau said that he and Wilson-Raybould discussed their "shared goals" for the government during these meetings.

"In our system of government, of course, her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself".

In 2016, the Liberal Party of Canada was forced to return over $100,000 in illegal donations they received from SNC-Lavalin's political slush fund, and the NDP has requested the Ethics Commissioner to look into whether Trudeau was a recipient of illegal donations, according to a release.

He also said that she "confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall, where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone".

"This is an issue that has been much-talked about in the last few days". "I don't think Wayne, as a backbencher, is in that type of position".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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