February 12, 2019 12:35 pm
Updated: February 18, 2019 4:53 pm

What Justin Trudeau has said about the SNC-Lavalin controversy

WATCH ABOVE: Trudeau says he welcomes investigation by ethics commissioner into SNC-Lavalin case

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under the microscope after Canada’s ethics commissioner launched an investigation into reports that his office interfered in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin.

READ MORE: Ethics commissioner launches investigation into allegations of PMO interference in SNC-Lavalin case


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This comes after the Globe and Mail published a report Feb. 7 alleging officials in the Prime Minister’s Office had tried to pressure former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to get public prosecutors to cut a deal with SNC-Lavalin to help the Montreal engineering giant avoid a criminal trial.

On Tuesday, the former justice minister also announced she was quitting the federal cabinet but did not specify why.

Here is a timeline of what Trudeau has said about the controversy.

Feb. 7

After the Globe and Mail report was published, Trudeau spoke to reporters in Vaughan, Ont., saying the allegations in the article were “false.”

“The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false. Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was every directed by me, or anyone in my office, to take any decision in this matter.”

Even when asked if there had been any broader “influence” attempts, Trudeau continued to say only that there had been no directives issued and called the allegation “false.”

WATCH: Trudeau denies allegation that PMO pressured AG to drop SNC-Lavalin case

“As I’ve said, at no time did we direct the attorney general, current or previous, take any decision whatsoever in this matter,” Trudeau said.

His refusal to answer questions about any broader “influence” attempts quickly sparked concerns from opposition MPs, who hammered the government in Question Period that same day.

Attorney General David Lametti took those questions, expanding the government line.

“Mr. Speaker, as the prime minister said earlier today, neither the prime minister nor his office put my predecessor or myself under pressure nor gave any directives,” he said. “These allegations contained in The Globe and Mail are false.”

WATCH: Attorney General Lametti takes heat in QP about alleged PMO interference in SNC-Lavalin case

Feb. 8

Trudeau was not present for Question Period in the House of Commons on Friday, but Toronto MP Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to Lametti, was there to take the many questions about the SNC-Lavalin controversy.

Virani repeated the assertions made by Lametti the previous day.

READ MORE: Scheer demands emergency meeting over Trudeau, SNC-Lavalin allegations

“Mr. Speaker, at no point has the current minister of justice or the former minister of justice been directed or pressured by the prime minister or the Prime Minister’s Office to make any decision on this or any other matter,” Virani said.

“The attorney general of Canada is the chief law officer of the Crown and provides legal advice to the government with the responsibility to act in the public interest. He takes those responsibilities very seriously.”

WATCH: MP Arif Virani takes heat from Conservatives, NDP over SNC-Lavalin case

Feb. 11

On Monday, the federal ethics commissioner launched an investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Hours later, Trudeau was asked about the ethics probe at a media conference in Burnaby, B.C., in which the prime minister said he welcomed the investigation.

“We welcome the ethics commissioner’s investigation,” he said. “I think it’s extremely important that Canadians can continue to have confidence in our justice system.”

WATCH: Trudeau says justice minister to provide recommendations on possibly waiving solicitor-client privilege

Trudeau added that he asked Lametti to look into the complex matter of whether the government can or should waive the solicitor-client privilege that surrounds PMO discussions with Wilson-Raybould.

The prime minister also “confirmed” a conversation the two had in the fall about the SNC-Lavalin trial.

“As I told Minister Wilson-Raybould directly in a conversation in the fall, the issue of the direction of public prosecutions is entirely a matter of her to make.”

“I respect her view that due to privilege she cannot comment or add on matters recently before the media and I highlight we’re bound by cabinet confidentiality.”

WATCH: Trudeau says Wilson-Raybould confirmed he told her decisions on public prosecutions are ‘hers alone’

After Wilson-Raybould’s resignation Tuesday, Trudeau said he was “surprised and disappointed.”

“This resignation is not consistent with conversations I had with Jody a few weeks ago when I asked her to serve as Canada’s minister of veterans affairs… nor is it consistent with the conversations we’ve had lately.”

Feb. 13

Trudeau said Wilson-Raybould never told him she felt pressure from his office.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould and I had a conversation in Septemeber in which I emphasized to her the decision she makes as attorney general, particularly in this matter, is her decision and I was not directing or pressuring her,” Trudeau said.

“If she had felt she had received pressure, it was her obligation to come talk to me, but she did not do that in the fall.”

WATCH: Trudeau says Wilson-Raybould never reported any alleged ‘pressure’

Feb. 15

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Trudeau said Wilson-Raybould would still be justice minister if it wasn’t for the sudden resignation of former Treasury Board president Scott Brison last month.

Trudeau said Brison’s decision to leave politics resulted in having to “move things around” on the team, including shuffling Wilson-Raybould into the veterans affairs portfolio.

WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould ‘still attorney general’ had Scott Brison not resigned, Trudeau says

“One of the seniors members of our team stepped down and we had to move things around on the team,” Trudeau said. “If Scott Brison had not stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be minister of justice and attorney general.”

Trudeau was also asked directly if the decision to move Wilson-Raybould out of justice had anything to do with SNC-Lavalin.

“Any time, one makes a decision to shift members of cabinet, there are always a wide range of factors that go into making that decision,” he said.

Feb. 18 

After the resignation of senior PMO staff member Gerald Butts, Trudeau tweets that Butts served the country with “integrity, sage advice and devotion.”

The prime minister does not directly comment on SNC-Lavalin or Wilson-Raybould, but does link to Butts’ resignation statement in which he denies any interference in the case.

— With files from Global News’ reporter  

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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