OTTAWA—Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion’s report into the SNC-Lavalin affair was scathing in its assessment that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke ethics rules in a campaign to convince former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to consider a deal for SNC-Lavalin.
Dion concluded that Trudeau, his senior political advisers, and the country’s former top bureaucrat attempted to influence Wilson-Raybould into considering a “deferred prosecution agreement” for SNC-Lavalin, which faces corruption and bribery charges and a potential 10-year ban from federal work.
Below are excerpts from Dion’s report:
“The prime minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. (Jody) Wilson‑Raybould. The authority of the prime minister and his office was used 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.”
“It is not for Mr. Trudeau, or for me, or for any other administrative body to judge whether an attorney general has properly or sufficiently considered the public interest in matters of criminal prosecution or, for that matter, any other aspect of their decision-making process.”
“Senior staff in the Prime Minister’s Office made at least three attempts — on Nov. 22, Dec. 5, and Dec. 18, 2018 — to persuade Ms. Wilson‑Raybould, directly and through her chief of staff, to re-examine the idea of seeking external advice on the matter. It must be reiterated that these legal opinions were circulated, and their contents discussed, during ongoing legal proceedings involving the Prosecution Service before the Federal Court of Canada and unbeknownst to the attorney general.”
“The fact that senior staff in the Prime Minister’s Office pressed Ms. Wilson‑Raybould on the idea of seeking external advice on the matter — all the while knowing the advice that would be given and selectively withholding other material information from Ms. Wilson‑Raybould — was, in my view, a third attempt to bend the will of the attorney general.”
“Despite Mr. Trudeau’s testimony that he did not know what prompted Mr. Wernick to make “such stark statements” when engaging with Ms. Wilson‑Raybould, it is difficult for me to imagine that Mr. Wernick would have acted without a full and clear appreciation of Mr. Trudeau’s position on the matter. I find all of these tactics troubling.”
“(The) evidence abundantly shows that Mr. Trudeau knowingly sought to influence Ms. Wilson-Raybould both directly and through the actions of his agents.”
“Public office holders must perform their official duties and functions in a manner that bears the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that may not be fully discharged by simply acting within the law.”
Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier
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