WATCH: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has sent another letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki urging her to “use all the resources” at her force’s disposal to investigate whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have obstructed justice by interfering in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
In a press conference on Monday, Scheer told reporters that in the wake of the damning report by Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion last week — which ruled Trudeau and his staff broke federal conflict of interests rules by improperly pressuring the former attorney general to intervene in the case — he has written to Lucki for a second time since the scandal emerged in February 2019.
“Criminal investigations are, of course, entirely within your purview. I wish only to note, as I did in February, that it is contrary to section 139 of the Criminal Code for anybody to ‘obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice,'” Scheer wrote in the letter.
“I believe I speak for millions of Canadians by requesting that you use all the resources at your disposal to investigate this matter, not only so that justice is done but so that it is seen to be done.”
Trudeau rebuffed that call on Monday in a press conference with reporters, insisting he did nothing wrong.
“It’s the role of all prime ministers to defend the interests of Canadians, to defend jobs,” he said when asked about Scheer’s letter to the RCMP.
“That’s exactly what I did. We have always respected the independence and integrity of our judicial system and I will always do everything I can to defend the interests and jobs of Canadians, their families, retirees right across the country.”
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The SNC-Lavalin scandal broke in February after the Globe & Mail reported former attorney general Wilson-Raybould had faced political pressure to intervene in the court case of the Quebec engineering giant, which is charged with allegedly bribing Libyan officials to get contracts.
She described in explosive committee testimony how Trudeau and 10 of his most senior staff subjected her to a “sustained” campaign of pressure between September and December 2018 after she declined to use a never-before tested power to save the company from criminal trial.
Kathleen Roussel, the director of public prosecutions, had decided against inviting SNC-Lavalin to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement, effectively a deal to avoid criminal prosecution, and Dion’s report described Trudeau and his staff as not understanding that refusal.
They then launched a campaign to try to pressure Wilson-Raybould to override that decision and offer the company a way out of court.
Wilson-Raybould called that pressure “inappropriate” while Trudeau has maintained whatever measures he took were in the interests of protecting jobs.
He has argued jobs would be at risk if the company were put through a criminal trial for charges of corruption and fraud.
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But Dion excoriated that argument in his report last week, ruling Trudeau used his office to improperly seek to further the interests of a private third-party.
He also detailed repeated cases where he said the interference by Trudeau and his staff crossed the line.
All that has given rise to questions from Scheer and the NDP about whether the behaviour amounts to criminal obstruction of justice.
Wilson-Raybould revealed for the first time in an interview with The West Block on Friday that RCMP contacted her in the spring about the matter.
She would not say whether that contact was part of an active investigation.
“I haven’t been contacted by the RCMP since they issued their statement but I will say that I have been contacted by the RCMP and that occurred last spring,” Wilson-Raybould said. “I’m not at liberty to talk about what we spoke about. That’s confidential, so I’ll leave it at that.”
RCMP issued a statement after Dion’s report was released.
“The RCMP is examining this matter carefully with all available information and will take appropriate actions as required,” spokesperson Chantal Payette said in a statement to Global News. “It would be inappropriate for us to provide anymore comments on this matter at this time.”
The force does not indicate whether it has launched investigations unless it gets to the point that charges are laid.