Trudeau denies claim PMO pressured AG to drop SNC-Lavalin case

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

The Globe and Mail says former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould disappointed the Prime Minister's Office by refusing to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution.

The company, based in Canada's Quebec province, was charged with corruption and fraud in connection with payments of almost 36 million US 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.

As attorney general, Wilson-Raybould could have become involved in the case against the company by directing federal prosecutors to negotiate a "remediation agreement", a way of holding an organization to account for wrongdoing without a formal finding of guilt.

The director's court filing is the latest twist in a dispute at the heart of high-profile allegations the Prime Minister's Office leaned on former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene on the engineering firm's behalf.

Now, following a report by the Globe and Mail, we have learned what lies behind Wilson-Raybould's dispatch to what effectively appears to be the federal Liberals' ministerial gulag, Veterans Affairs (with no disrespect meant to military veterans). Montrealer David Lametti took over as attorney general and justice minister.

During the heady days of Justin Trudeau's "because it's 2015" declaration, Wilson-Raybould's ascension to the role of the nation's top justice official defined the moment.

"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, " the prime minister told reporters Thursday after a transit announcement in Vaughan, north of Toronto.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is created to make decisions independently, but it is still accountable to the attorney general and can be directed by the attorney general as long that direction is made public.

However, the question is: Did anyone in the Prime Minister's Office, at any time, communicate with anyone in the former Attorney General's office on the matter of the criminal prosecution of SNC Lavalin, yes or no?

Mr. Scheer called for "full disclosure" from Mr. Trudeau on the interactions between the PMO and Ms. Wilson-Raybould regarding SNC-Lavalin.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau's response was carefully crafted and legally vetted.

Rudd added that, based on Wilson-Raybould's activity on Twitter and Facebook, she's clearly "engaged" with her new job.

During question period in the House of Commons on Friday, the opposition homed in on a December meeting between Wilson-Raybould and Gerald Butts, principal secretary to the prime minister, which the PMO has confirmed. She resisted those efforts, the newspaper said.

Conservative MP Mark Strahl baldly accused the government of firing Wilson-Raybould for failing to follow orders. This Globe and Mailstory strongly suggests the answer is yes, to both questions. If the attorney general directs the Public Prosecution Service of Canada on a case, it gets published publically in the Canada Gazette.

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

A guilty verdict on bribery and corruption charges would result in SNC-Lavalin being barred from government contracts in Canada for 10 years. "It hurts their reputation", he said.