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

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

Globe: PMO pressured justice minister to help SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution

They argued the discussions were all perfectly within the law and the government would have been remiss not to deliberate over the fate of the Quebec engineering and construction giant given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company and put thousands of Canadians out of work.

According to the Globe, Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to play along and did not follow through despite the high-level pressure.

"The idea is not to create a new bureaucracy, but rather to take the Director of Public Prosecutions out of the Department of Justice ... and try to strengthen its independence from the government of the day", said John Baird, then Treasury Board president, in committee testimony in 2006.

Trudeau denied the allegations yesterday.

During a visit to Vaughan, Ont., today, Trudeau said the allegations in the newspaper story "are false". "However, it is quite appropriate for the Attorney General to consult with Cabinet colleagues before exercising his or her powers under the DPP Act in respect of any criminal proceedings", it says.

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"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 in a Friday morning news conference on Parliament Hill.

However, Rankin was not optimistic that Wilson-Raybould would answer questions about the case, even if the committee votes in favour of a study, as she was shuffled out of the justice portfolio and named minister of veterans affairs last month, a move widely seen as a demotion.

Repeatedly, Lametti called the report "false" and denied that he has at any time been "directed or pressured" by Trudeau or his office.

"When the lobbyists meet with someone, they have to register and register what it was about", she said.

"He said that there was no direction nor was there any pressure. We are now learning that the government threw her under the bus".

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The Globe and Mail never reported that officials in Mr. Trudeau's office had directed Ms. Wilson-Raybould to take action - only that she was pressured to do so and declined.

There have also been suggestions that a criminal investigation might be in order, including from Michael Bryant, Ontario's former attorney general and now executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Wilson-Raybould, now minister of Veterans Affairs, said Friday she would not comment on claims that the Prime Minister's Office tried to pressure her to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in pending legal action against the construction company. If the attorney general directs the Public Prosecution Service of Canada on a case, it gets published publically in the Canada Gazette.

The company unsuccessfully pressed the director of prosecutions to negotiate a "remediation agreement", a legal means of holding an organization to account for wrongdoing without a formal finding of guilt.

For the second day in a row the political opposition roasted the federal government over possible political interference. The report also noted a number of registered meetings in which SNC-Lavalin lobbied high-level members of Trudeau's office and parliamentarians on the topics of "justice" and "law enforcement".

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The prime minister wanted to avoid leaving the impression that no one ever discussed the issue, given that SNC-Lavalin was heavily lobbying government officials, the source said.

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