Canada’s ethics commissioner says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by influencing the Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould in her decision on whether to intervene in a criminal prosecution involving SNC‑Lavalin.
After reviewing the evidence and related information in the case, Commissioner Mario Dion found that Trudeau contravened Section 9 of the act, which prohibits public office holders from using their position to seek to influence a decision to improperly further the private interests of a third party.
“The evidence showed there were many ways in which Mr. Trudeau, either directly or through the actions of those under his direction, sought to influence the Attorney General,” said Dion in a report released on Wednesday.
In his report, Dion determined that as Prime Minister, Trudeau was the only public office figure with the ability to exert influence over Wilson-Raybould in her decision whether to intervene in a matter relating to a criminal prosecution.
He also found that other senior officials within the Prime Minister’s Office were directed by Trudeau “to find a solution in a desire to use the newly adopted remediation agreement tool – also called a deferred prosecution agreement ” – in the criminal matter involving SNC-Lavalin.
“The Prime Minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould,” said Dion.
Trudeau used his position of authority, as well as his office “to circumvent, undermine, and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer,” he added.
In the report, Dion said Trudeau was “concerned about the issue of potential job losses and the repercussions to the company’s employees, pensioners, and shareholders.”
The Prime Minister’s overall aim, the report continued, “was to consult with the Attorney General to ensure that she had properly considered the option of negotiating a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.”
Trudeau, along with his senior officials, “subsequently sought over a period of many months to have the Attorney General overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision to not invite SNC-Lavalin to enter into negotiations towards a remediation agreement.”
Dion’s report also concluded that “SNC-Lavalin’s considerable private financial interests would undoubtedly have been furthered had Mr. Trudeau successfully influenced the Attorney General in her decision to overturn the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision relating to the company.”