Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion issued a scathing report this morning, indicating that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke ethics rules in the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Dion says Trudeau used his position of authority over the former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to seek to influence her decision on whether she should overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision on SNC-Lavalin.
“The authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and 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,” wrote the Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion in his report.
Trudeau is the first Prime Minister in Canadian history to have broken a federal law while in office. However, this isn’t the first time for Trudeau. The Prime Minister violated the Conflict of Interest Act in 2017 when he accepted a trip to the Aga Khan’s private island.
Dion’s report outlines a number of troubling instances on how the Trudeau government conducted itself in the SNC-Lavalin affair.
The ethics report describes how Trudeau and the Privy Council Office denied the ethics commissioner access to some witnesses and documents. The government refused to expand cabinet privilege waiver, despite relevant evidence being available.
In addition, it was revealed in the report that SNC-Lavalin had tremendous influence over the government. It was SNC-Lavalin that originally suggested to the government that a budget implementation bill should be used to introduce deferred prosecution agreements to Canada. As a result, in 2018, the government quietly introduced legislation to provide for deferred prosecution agreements in Canada in the government’s 582-page budget legislation.
The former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould released a statement shortly after the ethics report was released. In her statement, Wilson-Raybould says, “The report confirms critical facts, consistent with what I shared with all Canadians, and affirms the position I have taken from the outset”.
The SNC-Lavalin affair began in February 2019 when the Globe and Mail reported that sources close to the government said that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly had attempted to influence Wilson-Raybould concerning an ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin while she was Minister of Justice and Attorney General.