February 18, 2019 4:24 pm
Updated: February 18, 2019 4:25 pm

Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry into SNC-Lavalin controversy

WATCH: It is easy to sit back and criticize, but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke Monday about how he would handle the SNC-Lavalin controversy if he was Prime Minister of Canada.


New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling for an independent investigation into the Justin Trudeau-SNC-Lavalin controversy, as well as a vote on allowing former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to speak publicly about the incident.

READ MORE: Charges against SNC-Lavalin explained — and how the PMO allegedly got involved

“The prime minister seems to be continuously helping out his friends rather than everyday Canadians,” Singh told reporters Monday.

“Our government should not be working to help their friends drop criminal charges.”

Shortly after Singh’s address, Trudeau’s primary secretary Gerald Butts resigned from his post and maintained that the accusations against the Prime Minister’s Office are false.

WATCH: Jagmeet Singh on his dealings with SNC Lavalin

It’s been alleged that during her time as justice minister, Wilson-Raybould was pressured to help the Quebec-based firm SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution for criminal charges involving fraud and bribery linked to Libyan business deals.

The company risks being banned from federal contracts for a decade if convicted. In October, federal prosecutors rejected the company’s request for a remediation deal.

Remediation deals became an option last year when the Liberals quietly included a provision in the budget bill to enact them, Global News previously reported.

WATCH: Jagmeet Singh on his dealings with SNC Lavalin

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In January, Wilson-Raybould was moved to the veterans affairs portfolio as part of a shuffle precipitated by former Treasury Board president Scott Brison’s decision to leave politics.

Last Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet without saying why, or whether she felt pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office to act on SNC-Lavalin’s behalf.

Trudeau maintained this week that had Brison not resigned, Wilson-Raybould would still be justice minister, though the Conservatives and NDP quickly rejected that explanation.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau's top adviser Gerald Butts resigns amid SNC-Lavalin affair

In his address, Singh said his party would call for a vote in the House of Commons to launch an independent investigation into the affair, via a public inquiry. An internal investigation has already been launched.

In addition, he said his party would call for a second vote to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak candidly about the events of the SNC-Lavalin case and any direction she may have received from the prime minister. She is currently bound by solicitor-client privilege, though she says she’s retained legal counsel to determine what she can and cannot speak about publicly.

WATCH: NDP leader calls for a public inquiry into SNC Lavalin

Singh isn’t the only Canadian government official to call for Wilson-Raybould’s testimony. Last week, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters that if the Liberals block an ongoing motion to allow the former veterans affairs minister to testify on the matter, it will show they have something to hide.

READ MORE: Scheer asks Trudeau to let Wilson-Raybould talk about SNC-Lavalin

He called on Liberal members to “do the right thing” and support the motion — and also called on them to call Trudeau as a witness.

All this has bubbled to the surface at the start of a federal election year, and it’s unclear whether the SNC-Lavalin affair will impact Trudeau’s consistently strong polling numbers.

—With files from the Canadian Press and Amanda Connolly. 

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

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