Canada’s Trudeau denies interfering in SNC-Lavalin case

Leroy Wright
March 10, 2019

SNC-Lavalin has a lost a court bid to have the public prosecutor overturn its refusal to negotiate an agreement that would see the company avoid a criminal trial.

A conviction, the company argued, risked crippling its business and putting thousands out of work.

Mr Trudeau has been on the defensive for a month over allegations by former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould that officials inappropriately pressured her past year to help construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a criminal trial.

Wilson-Raybould has said the pressure was "inappropriate" but not illegal.

The director told SNC-Lavalin past year that negotiating a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this case, and the company asked the Federal Court for an order requiring talks.

"Did the prime minister or anyone else lie to Jody Wilson-Raybould in an attempt to get her to sign a deferred prosecution agreement on the fly?"

SNC expressed its disappointment with the decision later on Friday.

With the ruling now in place, the way is clear for the criminal trial of SNC-Lavalin to proceed.

Roussel's office informed SNC-Lavalin last September 4 and in writing on October 9 that a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this case.

The office of federal prosecution petitioned the Federal Court to dismiss the company's claim for judicial review.

"The decision at issue - whether to invite an organization to enter into negotiations for a remediation agreement - clearly falls within the ambit of prosecutorial discretion and the nature of decisions that prosecutors are regularly called to make in criminal proceedings", she wrote. During their Wednesday committee appearances, Butts and Wernick gave testimony that contradicted that of Wilson-Raybould, often explaining that her concerns came because she experienced their interactions in a different way than they had.

The crisis has prompted the resignations of Ms Wilson-Raybould, Treasury board president Jane Philpott and Mr Trudeau's closest political aide, Gerald Butts.

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"As we now learn through this testimony, that was not the case", said Trudeau.

He said he hadn't spoken to either ex-minister "in a while" but looks forward to doing so. "As prime minister and leader of the federal ministry, I should have been".

"I will remind people that we are a party that values diversity of opinions and perspectives".

They just wanted to talk.

"It's up to his party now to determine whether or not they want to keep him on as leader", Scheer said during a news conference in Rosser, Man., on Friday.

"We know that here in the west, this has been a primary issue for a very long time", Notley said. However, given all that has transpired regarding the relationship between SNC Lavalin and the Trudeau government, such a move would have dire political consequences.

He did, however, note that he will indeed apologize later today - to an indigenous Inuit community for the federal government's mistreatment during the tuberculosis epidemics of the 1940s, 50s and 60s when the community was split apart.

Trudeau's government has "allowed for some diversity of thought", Mochama said.

Throughout the political uproar, SNC-Lavalin's court action has been simmering.

The fate of SNC-Lavalin did not make regular headlines until February 7. when a report in the Globe and Mail claimed that Trudeau's team had "pressed" Wilson-Raybould to offer the firm a deferred-prosecution deal.

In a January 8 response filed with the court, the director of prosecutions said SNC-Lavalin's argument is "bereft of any possibility of success and should be struck".

Now that a judge has refused to force the government's hand, it's up to Lametti to decide what to do.

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