Bill Kelly: SNC-Lavalin affair has Justin Trudeau on defence again

Bill Kelly: SNC-Lavalin affair has Justin Trudeau on defence again

The PM allegedly pressured former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to curtail the criminal prosecution of a multi-million-dollar corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin, redirecting the matter out of the courts and into a "remediation agreement", which would have spared the company the negative financial and reputational consequences of a criminal trial - the most devastating of which would include a 10-year ban from accepting government contracts, a stipulation which would economically cripple the Montreal engineering firm.

Ms Wilson-Raybould has so far declined to comment on the story, citing solicitor-client privilege.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said he welcomed an investigation by Canada's ethics commissioner into allegations his office interfered in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin, the latest twist in the weeks-old scandal that has rocked the Liberal government.

Wilson-Raybould announced her resignation in a tweet.

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Only hours before Trudeau's planned press conference on the West Coast, the NDP made the bombshell announcement that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion had accepted its request to investigate the allegations, first reported by The Globe and Mail last week.

Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the justice portfolio last month, and is now the minister of veterans affairs, a move widely seen as a demotion.

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During a tour of the Conrad rental housing development in Vancouver, Justin Trudeau addressed the political interference allegations surrounding the Prime Minister's Office and SNC-Lavalin.

She is the daughter of hereditary chief Bill Wilson, an indigenous politician who helped push former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Mr Trudeau's father, to enshrine indigenous rights in Canada's constitution.

Monday, he said in Vancouver that he'd told Wilson-Raybould that any decision on the subject was hers alone.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former justice minister Jodie Wilson-Raybould are seen at a swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa on January 14, 2019, as Wilson-Raybold is sworn in as Minister of Veterans Affairs.

"We spoke about our shared goals for our country and for this government", he said, adding that her "presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself".

On Sunday, Lametti told CTV's Question Period it's still possible he could direct the prosecution service to make a deal with SNC-Lavalin that would avoid a criminal trial.

In 2017, Trudeau apologized after the office of the ethics commissioner said he had broken conflict-of-interest laws by accepting a vacation on a Bahamas island owned by the Aga Khan.

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