Trudeau doubles down, refuses to apologize for SNC-Lavalin pressure after damning report
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doubling down on his refusal to apologize for what ethics commissioner Mario Dion found was repeated improper pressure by him and his senior staff on the former attorney general in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
This comes as one of the women Trudeau kicked out of his caucus earlier this year says Canadians deserve an apology.
Trudeau held a press conference on Wednesday following the release of a damning report by Dion, which found the prime minister broke the Conflict of Interest Act and had been seeking to further the interests of a private third party when he and his staff repeatedly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould about her decision not to intervene in the court case of the Quebec engineering firm.
He said in that appearance that while he took “full responsibility” for how the case was handled, he would not apologize because he believed he had been standing up for Canadian jobs by pressuring Wilson-Raybould to intervene to save the company from a criminal trial.
During a visit to Fredericton, N.B., on Thursday, Trudeau was asked by a reporter how he could claim to take responsibility if he refused to apologize for what Dion has ruled was improper political interference.
“I was happy to take all the questions yesterday,” Trudeau responded.
“I’m not going to apologize for standing up for Canadians jobs. That’s my job.”
WATCH: Justin Trudeau says handling of SNC-Lavalin affair wasn’t good enough, but he can’t apologize
However, Dion rejected that claim in his report, stating that if there was any public interest in the SNC-Lavalin case, it was so closely linked to the company’s own private and financial interests in avoiding a criminal trial that any interference crossed the line.
Trudeau disputed that on Wednesday even as he said he would accept the report.
The pressure continues to mount on Trudeau to apologize over his handling of the scandal.
In April, the prime minister kicked Wilson-Raybould out of the Liberal caucus in response to her continued raising of concerns, along with Jane Philpott, former president of the Treasury Board. Both have also been barred from running for the Liberals in the upcoming campaign.
That ejection immediately prompted accusations from Trudeau’s political opponents in the Conservative Party that he was seeking to silence women who publicly contradicted him, and both Philpott and Wilson-Raybould have since decided to run as Independents.
Both Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen and Conservative MP Michelle Rempel accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist” over his handling of the concerns expressed by the two women.
WATCH: Trudeau: I disagree with the Ethics commissioner’s report
Philpott said in an interview with the Canadian Press that Canadians “deserve an apology” from Trudeau and dismissed his assertion that he had nothing to apologize for because he was standing up for Canadian jobs.
“The immediate reaction I think many people have is: ‘Well, that’s not what we wanted you to apologize for,'” she said.
“I do believe that the people of Canada deserve an apology.”
Wilson-Raybould also issued a statement in response to the report in which she suggested she was not satisfied with how the government was recognizing its shortcomings in the affair.
“In a country as great as Canada, essential values and principles that are the foundation for our freedoms and system of government should be actively upheld by all, especially those in positions of public trust,” she wrote.
“We should not struggle to do this; and we should not struggle to acknowledge when we have acted in ways that do not meet these standards.”
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