What’s He Hiding? Scheer Demands Trudeau Come Clean On SNC-Lavalin Scandal
Federal opposition leader Andrew Scheer is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to clear up the confusion surrounding the SNC-Lavalin affair. (Photo: Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Andrew Scheer, federal Conservative Party leader, has written an open letter to Justin Trudeau demanding the Prime Minister show “openness” and “transparency” in the rapidly developing SNC-Lavalin/Liberal government scandal.
IN 2015, the RCMP charged SNC-Lavalin, a massive Montreal-based engineering firm, with fraud and corruption, accusing the company of making close to $50 million in payments to government officials in Libya to secure business there. It also charged SNC-Lavalin with defrauding the Libyan government of over $129 million in “property, money, valuable security or service.”
Instead of facing a costly and publicly embarrassing court case, SNC-Lavalin lobbied the Liberal government to a deferred prosecution or remediation agreement, in which it would pay fines but not be banned from bidding on federal government contracts.
The Globe and Mail reported last week that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould, then the Minister of Justice Attorney General, to intervene on behalf of SNC-Lavalin, which happens to be a major contributor to the Liberal Party. When Wilson-Raybould refused, the Globe report suggests that Trudeau shuffled her out of Attorney General’s office and into Veteran’s Affairs, a much less desirable posting.
Trudeau called the allegations made in the Globe report “false,” adding that, “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.” Instead of instructing Wilson-Raybould how to act toward SNC-Lavalin, the government insists it was only informing her.
In his open letter headlined: “Justin Trudeau has betrayed Canadians,” Scheer lays out the case: “the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly pressured the attorney general to overrule due legal process by granting this Liberal-friendly corporate giant the special deal it had long sought after, and then firing the attorney general when she courageously refused to do so.”
Scheer says that politicians have asked Trudeau government for answers but got no clear response. Wilson-Raybould herself has been silent on the issue, claiming that the “solicitor-client privilege prevents her from disclosing the advice she gave to the government in the SNC-Lavalin matter.”
Scheer has written the PM asking him to waive that privilege and let Wison-Raybould tell her side of the story. If Trudeau refuses, Scheer asks: “what is Mr. Trudeau trying to hide.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh agrees, saying “nothing about this passes the smell test. Fundamentally the question is whose side is this Liberal government on? Are they on the side of people? Or are they on the side of multinational corporations trying to drop criminal charges?”
The whole SNC-Lavalin affair is suspicious, says Scheer. Besides having deep ties with the Liberal party, the government doesn’t want a huge Quebec employer to go bankrupt and lay off thousands of workers, especially in an election year, suggests the National Post’s John Ivison.
This whole mess could be cleared up if and when Wilson-Raybould tells her side of the story. But until then, Scheer writes, “the longer [Trudeau] and his government avoid accountability, the more it looks like he is covering up the truth.”