Opposition keeps heat on Liberals over Wilson-Raybould

Jody Wilson Raybould				

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.

Some pretty hefty allegations have come out against the prime minister's office.

If indeed Wilson-Raybould refused to attempt to persuade her prosecutors to drop pursuit of a criminal trial of SNC-Lavalin in favour of a settlement of the charges, the Attorney General became expendable. And the fact that the attorney general is supposed to be above political considerations does not mean he or she can't be involved in those discussions.

The federal director of public prosecutions is officially asking a court to toss out a plea from SNC-Lavalin to spare the company from criminal proceedings.

Canada's current Minister of Justice is David Lametti, he was appointed to cabinet in January in a shuffle that saw Wilson-Raybould moved into the Veterans' Affairs portfolio, which was viewed by some as a demotion.

Rudd also rejected characterizations that Wilson-Raybould was demoted.

Asked if the PMO exerted any influence whatsoever, Mr. Trudeau said: "As I've said, at no time did we direct the attorney-general, current or previous, to make any decision whatsoever in this matter".

SNC-Lavalin was charged in 2015 by the RCMP and openly called for a remediation agreement to avoid damaging the company, a major employer in Quebec.

"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.

CTV News has asked Jody Wilson-Raybould for comment on the story and her office said she will not be commenting today.

This distinction is known as the Shawcross principle, named after a former British attorney general: cabinet members can give advice to the attorney general, but not instructions or even pressure. They would answer questions from MPs about allegations that were reported by the Globe and Mail on Thursday.

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

The prime minister should have nothing to fear from an independent investigation by the federal ethics commissioner, Singh said separately.

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer also suggested Friday morning that his party is looking at pursuing unspecified "legal avenues" if the governing Liberals "continue to cover this up".

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

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", Singh said in a telephone interview with the Canadian Press.

"If he truly wants to clear this up and believes there's been no wrongdoing, he should welcome an investigation from the ethics commissioner".

"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 Singh.

Singh said the allegations suggest there may have been possible violations of three sections of the federal Conflict of Interest Act: the prohibitions against public office holders giving preferential treatment to any individual or organization, using insider information to improperly further a person's private interests or seeking to influence a decision to further another person's private interests.



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