By: Laura Steiner
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was found in violation of Conflict of Interest Guidelines because of his conduct on the SNC Lavalin file. The finding was part of a 63 page report made public by Commissioner Mario Dion
Trudeau was found in violation of section 9 which deals with influence over others. It reads in part: “No public office holder shall use his or her position as a public office holder to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to further the public office holder’s private interests or those of the public office holder’s relatives or friends, or to improperly further another person’s private interests.” According to Dion there is no requirement the alleged influence must lead to the desired result.
The report stems from testimony from Jody Wilson-Raybould before a House of Commons’ committee in February. As Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould says she was pressured multiple times over a period of a few months to reverse a decision taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions on offering SNC Lavalin a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA).
Trudeau released a statement saying he accepts the report, but disagrees with the conclusion. “My objective was, and always will be, to stand up for people’s jobs and livelihoods across the country, while upholding the rule of law and respecting the role of the Attorney General.” SNC Lavalin is a Quebec-based engineering company going to trial for corruption charges which include bribing Libyan government officials. The Criminal Code of Canada regulating the use of a DPA says prosecutors are unable to consider the “national economic interest” when looking at offenses committed under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
Scheer, Singh, and May React to Dion’s Report
Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer reacted by calling out Trudeau for breaking the rules. “He is now the only PM (Prime Minister) in history to be found guilty of breaking federal ethics law not once, but twice,” Scheer said on Twitter. Scheer has previously called for Trudeau’s resignation.
New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh echoed Scheer. “It’s unprecedented that the ethics commissioner now has found two contraventions of the Conflict of Interest Act,” Singh said according to the CBC. Singh has been calling for a public inquiry.
Green Party Elizabeth May reacted to the report by demanding a public apology. “The issue does not end with the PM (Prime Minister). We need a full inquiry,” she tweeted. Former Justice Minister Anne McLellan has been asked to look at the possibility of separating the roles of Justice Minister and Attorney General.
Wilson-Raybould was kicked out of caucus in April. She released a statement on Facebook saying the report has vindicated her actions. “The report reminds us that we must all remain vigilant,” her statement says. She will be running as an independent candidate in Vancouver-Granville. Election Day is October 21, 2019.
To read Mario Dion’s full report click here