Published: Mon, March 11, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Justin Trudeau regrets 'erosion of trust' over political scandal

Justin Trudeau regrets 'erosion of trust' over political scandal

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 7, 2019. And a prime minister has to remove them if they aren't playing ball.

The scandal centres around allegations from the former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould that she faced high-level "veiled threats" and "sustained" political interference from almost a dozen senior officials between September and December 2018 to seek a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin, which is facing bribery and corruption charges over business dealings in Libya. She resigned her cabinet position in February.

"I have full confidence in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau", he said while riding a monorail train between Toronto Pearson International Airport's Terminal 3 and Terminal 1 Thursday afternoon, just hours after Trudeau addressed the media.

Trudeau on Thursday described an apparent disconnect between his office and Wilson-Raybould, though he said he was unaware of any problem at the time.

Andrew Korybko is joined by Christopher C. Black, worldwide criminal lawyer with 20 years of experience in war crimes and global relations, and a commentator on global affairs.

Ms Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee last week that officials, citing the need to protect jobs, kept on pressing her to think again even after she made clear she felt the company needed to face a trial.

A day after his former principal secretary and the head of the Privy Council testified Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made his most comprehensive comments to date on the SNC Lavalin scandal.

Again, Kane quoted from some of the well-settled law, among the cases a Supreme Court decision that says the "quasi-judicial function of the attorney general can not be subjected to interference from parties who are not as competent to consider the various factors in making a decision to prosecute..." and an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that says, "if the attorney general must give a hearing to anyone who might be affected every time he proposes to exercise the discretion conferred upon him by virtue of his office the administration of criminal justice would come to a standstill".

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"I will miss the input of the former attorney general and Dr. Philpott but I will also enjoy my continued relationships with them as members of Parliament".

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she was pressured in the criminal prosecution of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

"Jody is still a member of the Liberal caucus, Jane Philpott is still a member of the Liberal caucus and they have both indicated that they plan on running, or at least that they have had the nod on the nomination, they've had their opportunity to say their piece, Trudeau and Gerald Butts have said their piece, and there's still going to be more chat about it, but when people look at it they're starting to understand that there were definitely two sides to the story, two perspectives".

They had pushed her to seek outside legal advice on whether SNC-Lavalin could enter into a deferred prosecution agreement. Her riding is a new one, carved out of the former turf of several Vancouver ridings with a polyglot of different neighbourhoods and ethnic groups and without an established constituency infrastructure of experienced staff and voter information.

"I was not aware of that erosion of trust, and as prime minister and leader of the federal ministry, I should have been", he said. "Expect us to make correct decisions, stand for what is right and exit when values are compromised", she also tweeted.

"It's now beyond dispute that he and his office bullied and threatened Ms. Wilson-Raybould to get her to let SNC-Lavalin off the hook (and) when she resisted the attempts he fired her", Scheer added.

If the government encouraged the attorney-general to intervene in the case of SNC-Lavalin, then any misunderstanding that resulted was not because of Ms. Wilson-Raybould's state of mind, but rather the government's misunderstanding of the law.

The Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin was charged with corruption 4 years ago for allegedly paying Can$47 million (US$36 million) in bribes between 2001 and 2011 to secure Libyan government contracts under the rule of Moamer Kadhafi, and of defrauding the Libyan government of Can$130 million. Trudeau, 47, came to power in November 2015 promising more accountability and a greater number of women in the Cabinet.

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