Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin

Trudeau's office pressured Justice Minister to drop case against company with deep Liberal ties

Trudeau's office pressured Justice Minister to drop case against company with deep Liberal ties

Asked whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would waive the rule that prevents Wilson-Raybould, as the government's former top legal adviser, from saying what she did in the job, Virani repeated that the allegations of improper influence are false.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied a potentially incendiary allegation that his office told former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution.

As to whether Wilson-Raybould is truly bound to secrecy on this by solicitor-client privilege, as she insists she is, it is hard to say for certain without knowing exactly what she discussed with the Prime Minister's Office.

Analyst Yuri Lynk of Canaccord Genuity said the reputational damage of a looming corruption case could hurt SNC-Lavalin more than a ban on federal contract bidding for up to 10 years - one possible outcome of a conviction if the case heads to trial.

As part of a cabinet shuffle last month, Trudeau reassigned Wilson-Raybould from the justice portfolio to become Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense. "The attorney general of Canada is the chief law officer of the Crown and provides legal advice to the government with the responsibility to act in the public interest".

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the explanations from the prime minister and his team in the wake of the allegations, reported in the Globe and Mail, simply aren't good enough. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has also pressured Trudeau directly to intervene on the company's behalf. How does Canada's attorney general balance the roles of being a cabinet member but also overseeing prosecutors? "The DPP makes decisions, and if the attorney general wishes, I guess, to adjust that decision in some manner, the attorney general has to do so in writing and publicly so that it is transparent".

"The director of public prosecutions has independence in the sense that the attorney general can not give a direction, whether it is a broad policy direction or a specific direction on any given case, without that direction being in writing and Gazetted", Wild said.

The bombshell report prompted intense backlash in the House of Commons, with the Conservatives framing Wilson-Raybould's ministerial move as a demotion for not following the PMO's orders, while the NDP said the Globe's report proves that the Liberals offer special treatment to their wealthy friends.

"If his MPs vote against a motion and try to cover up what happened, Canadians can only conclude that the reports of political interference are true", Scheer said.

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None of that is likely to matter with opposition politicians, who maintain the whole affair smells like obstruction of justice.

The list includes Lametti, the prime minister's chief of staff Katie Telford, and his principal secretary Gerald Butts.

"If the prime minister has nothing to hide as he has suggested then he should have no reason to fear these individuals appearing before the justice committee", Scheer said on Parliament Hill.

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

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

On CTV's Question Period, Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt said that because these allegations have been made, it's incumbent that the committee hears from those believed to be involved to get a full picture of what happened.

"Canadians deserve a government that is on their side, not on the side of a massive multinational corporation with deep ties to the Liberal Party", said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

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