Trudeau broke conflict of interest law in SNC-Lavalin affair, says watchdog

Ethics commissioner says PM improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes questions from journalists following a meeting with Toronto Mayor John Tory at Toronto City Hall, on Tuesday August 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The federal ethics watchdog says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Mario Dion says Trudeau’s attempts to influence Wilson-Raybould on the matter contravened Section 9 of the act, which prohibits public office holders from using their position to try to influence a decision that would improperly further the private interests of a third party.

He says there’s little doubt that SNC-Lavalin’s financial interests would have been furthered had Trudeau succeeded in convincing Wilson-Raybould to overturn a decision by the director of public prosecutions, who had refused to invite the Montreal engineering giant to negotiate a remediation agreement in order to avoid a criminal prosecution on fraud charges related to contracts in Libya.

Dion says Trudeau also improperly pushed Wilson-Raybould to consider partisan political interests in the matter, contrary to constitutional principles on prosecutorial independence and the rule of law.

VIDEO: Wilson-Raybould testifies that she received veiled threats on SNC-Lavalin

Wilson-Raybould quit Trudeau’s cabinet in February over the affair. Friend and cabinet ally Jane Philpott resigned soon after. Trudeau subsequently kicked both women out of the Liberal caucus.

They are running for re-election as independent candidates.

RELATED: Five things in Wilson-Raybould’s written evidence on the SNC-Lavalin affair

The Canadian Press

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