OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the federal ethics commissioner’s stinging conclusions about Justin Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair appear to align with a criminal offence.
Speaking in St. Catharines, Ont., Scheer says he’s asked the head of the Mounties to take another look at the prime minister’s actions to determine whether he violated the Criminal Code for obstructing justice.
“Today, in light of both the ethics commissioner’s findings and the revelations about the RCMP’s previous involvement, I have formally requested the RCMP take another look,” Scheer told a news conference Monday.
“This shocking conclusion against a sitting prime minister appears to align with Sec. 139 of the Criminal Code defining obstruction of justice.”
Scheer shared a letter he wrote to RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki in which he urged her to use all the resources at her disposal to investigate the matter. It’s the second time he’s made such a request, the first being at the height of the controversy back in February.
Last week, a report by ethics watchdog Mario Dion concluded that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on corruption charges.
Dion concluded that Trudeau’s attempts to influence Wilson-Raybould on the matter contravened 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.
Trudeau has said he disagrees with some of Dion’s findings and he has refused to apologize for his actions, insisting he was “standing up for Canadian jobs.”
He’s also said he takes “full responsibility” for what occurred and has promised to create a new protocol for ministers, staff and bureaucrats when discussing a specific prosecution with the attorney general.
During an event Monday in Quebec City, Trudeau repeated his line that it’s a prime minister’s responsibility to “stand up for jobs” and to protect families and retirees. He added he will do it in a way that upholds the independence of the judicial system and of prosecutors.
He also said: “The Conservatives will continue to ask questions, as is important for an official Opposition.”
Wilson-Raybould said in a statement that the RCMP contacted her last spring “regarding matters that first came to the public’s attention on Feb. 7.” It was in apparent reference to the Globe and Mail report that said Trudeau’s aides pressed her to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case and help it avoid prosecution through a plea-bargain-type deal.
She declined further comment on the content of her discussions with the Mounties.
Last Friday, Wilson-Raybould said the police force had not contacted her since the release of Dion’s report earlier in the week.
Polls have suggested that Trudeau’s popularity took a big hit after the SNC-Lavalin affair erupted. After the allegations first appeared, the prime minister lost two senior cabinet ministers, his most trusted adviser and the country’s top public servant.
At the heart of the controversy are allegations that Wilson-Raybould felt improperly pressured to halt the criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering and construction giant.
Last fall, the director of public prosecutions refused to negotiate a remediation agreement with the company. The deal would have allowed the firm to avoid a criminal conviction, which would have barred it from receiving federal contracts for 10 years.
The Canadian Press