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

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

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

The officials said the government would have been remiss not to deliberate over the fate of the Quebec giant, given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company, putting thousands of Canadians out of work. This Globe and Mailstory strongly suggests the answer is yes, to both questions.

"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 has flatly denied the allegations.

"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.

David Young the former Attorney General of Ontario during the Progressive Conservative Harris government has now openly called for an investigation into the SNC-Lavalin scandal which has plagued the Trudeau government for the past few days.

"The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false".

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.

In Trudeau's absence from the House of Commons yesterday, Lametti faced a barrage of questions about the allegations, which he repeatedly denied.

"If they did it, they've got big trouble coming", she said.

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NDP MPs Charlie Angus and Nathan Cullen on Friday wrote to ethics commissioner Mario Dion, suggesting the allegations could represent a breach of a provision of the Conflict of Interest Act that prohibits public office holders from giving "preferential treatment to any person or organization". As justice minister, Wilson-Raybould would have been involved in those discussions. She called Veterans Affairs "a portfolio that is so important to our government".

In the extensive conversations with Lametti about his new job, the matter was never mentioned, the source added.

Officials pointed to a document entitled "Open and Accountable Government" on the PMO website, which spells out the conduct expected of ministers, including a lengthy section on the dual role of the justice minister and attorney general.

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.

On Thursday, the Canadians Civil Liberties Association said it expects the allegations reported in the Globe to prompt a police investigation. Bryant told CTV's Power Play on Thursday that he "would've called 911" if something similar had occurred while he was attorney general.

The attorney general can give the director of public prosecutions directives on general issues and on individual cases, provided the directives are in writing and published in the Canada Gazette, the federal register. According to the lobbyist registry, SNC Lavalin met with the Prime Minister's Office on 14 different occasions to discuss justice and law enforcement.

The relationship between federal prosecutors and the attorney general was reshaped in 2006 with the The Director of Public Prosecutions Act, contained in an accountability bill passed by the Conservative government of the day under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"All we've heard are allegations in a newspaper", said Lametti about the SNC-Lavalin affair.

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