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

Jody Wilson-Raybould

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is denying that his office told former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution.

The Quebec engineering and construction giant has faced legal trouble over allegations it paid millions of dollars in bribes to get government business in Libya, which would be a crime under Canadian law.

Asked whether he or his office had applied any influence or pressure on the minister, Trudeau repeated they had never directed Wilson-Raybould or Lametti to intervene.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Jodie Wilson-Raybould attend a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Three months later, Wilson-Raybould was moved to the veterans affairs post, a move widely seen as a demotion.

Neither Wilson-Raybould nor SNC-Lavalin has immediately responded to questions from The Canadian Press about the story.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to instruct the director of the service, Kathleen Roussel, to negotiate a "remediation agreement" with SNC-Lavalin, according to sources who were granted anonymity to speak directly about what went on behind-the-scenes. She resisted those efforts, the newspaper said.

Scheer says Conservatives on the House of Commons justice committee, along with the New Democrats, will also force an emergency meeting to consider a motion calling on nine high-ranking government officials to testify, including Wilson-Raybould herself.

When asked about any conversations with Ms. Wilson-Raybould about the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, Mr. Trudeau would only say "we have a tremendous, positive working relationship with all members of our cabinet".

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

The Official Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister's response Thursday morning was insufficient and scripted.

"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".

Toronto Liberal MP Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to current Justice Minister David Lametti, issued the most sweeping public denial of the story the government has issued so far.

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

"The allegations that we are hearing in the last 24 hours are unprecedented", Scheer said.

"At the end of the day, Canadians deserve to have a government on their side, on the side of justice, not on the side of a multinational corporation".

Lametti repeatedly said the Prime Minister's Office had not given directives to him or his predecessor on the matter, nor had he or Wilson-Raybould been pressed on the case. Much deeper. Wilson-Raybould was unable to mask still-evident shock. He predicted "history will prove that she did the right thing".

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