Ethics czar launches investigation into SNC-Lavalin and alleged PMO interference

The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is launching an investigation into whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or anyone in his office tried to have former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould abandon the prosecution of a case against SNC-Lavalin.

In an email, commissioner Mario Dion’s office confirmed that he has launched an « examination » under the Conflict of Interest Act.

The NDP requested the investigation. In a statement, the party said Dion has agreed that there are sufficient grounds to begin an investigation.

According to information about investigations on the commissioner’s website, when a request is received that « was not found to be frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith, he must immediately proceed with an examination. »

This will include allowing the public office holder in question to present their side of things, and, if needed, summoning witnesses and compelling them to provide evidence.

The Globe and Mail reported last week that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to influence Wilson-Raybould — who was also the federal attorney general at the time — to ask prosecutors to make a deal in the corruption and fraud case against the Quebec-based engineering and construction company.

According to the Globe, Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to play along and did not follow through despite the high-level pressure. CTV News has not independently verified the story.

Trudeau has flatly denied the allegations and current Justice Minister David Lametti said he has yet to see any evidence to merit a House of Commons Justice Committee study into the matter, another avenue of investigation that the opposition parties are also calling for. On Friday, Wilson-Raybould said as the former AG she is « bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter. »

« We urge Mr. Trudeau’s team to stop trying to discredit Ms. Wilson-Raybould and to commit to fully cooperate with the Ethic Commissioner’s investigation, » said NDP MP Nathan Cullen in the statement announcing the investigation was going ahead.

« The Liberal government should also support the work of the Justice Committee… Canadians deserve answer. This scandal goes to the heart of our democracy and the fairness of our legal system, » Cullen said.

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