RCMP officials claim that there was no political pressure involved in their decision not to pursue a criminal investigative probe into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s role in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

However, Conservative MPs are calling the decision emblematic of a “two-tier justice system.”

The decision not to launch a criminal investigation into the issue was announced by RCMP in January after it said there was insufficient evidence following a review of all publicly available information.

The Conservatives are nonetheless unconvinced.

“I think what today demonstrates is that the prime minister blocked the RCMP from conducting a full and complete investigation into his potential criminality,” Conservative MP Michael Cooper told the Hill Times following a House Ethics Committee meeting last week.

“The evidence today is clear, and that is (that) the prime minister covered up his obstruction of justice. We’re going to keep demanding answers to get to the bottom of the prime minister’s obstruction.”

RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme and Sgt. Frédéric Pincince both spoke before the ethics committee to answer MPs’ questions about their assessment regarding whether or not Trudeau was in violation of any laws by putting pressure on then-federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to cease prosecution of construction company SNC-Lavalin, since renamed AtkinsRealis, in 2018. 

Duheme claimed that the RCMP was “limited in the information we had access to,” while speaking before the committee, but added that the RCMP “did everything we could to gain as much information or access as much information as possible within the confines of the regulations.”

The RCMP did request access to confidential cabinet documents during its assessment, however the request was denied by the Privy Council Office, according to records obtained by Democracy Watch. 

According to Duheme, the RCMP “operates within the parameters and the regulations that we’re allowed to,” when conducting an investigation. 

“I’ll let individuals draw their own conclusion. What I come back to is we operate within a set of regulations and parameters,” said Duheme. “We made the effort to go and get additional information, and it was refused.”

Conservative MP Larry Brock asked if Trudeau was questioned by the RCMP at any point during the assessment and Duheme confirmed that no interview took place. 

Brock questioned why no such interview with Trudeau was ever undertaken, saying that the prime minister was “at the heart of this investigation.”

“I can inform both of you gentlemen that in my over 30 years of experience as a defence counsel, as a crown attorney, I’ve never heard of any investigation where there wasn’t any attempt—whether they agreed to interview or not—any attempt to interview the person of interest,” said Brock.

Co-founder of Democracy Watch Duff Conacher said that the RCMP officials failed to provide the committee with “good answers to key questions.” 

“Even though the RCMP committed to give more internal records to the committee, it is clear that a public inquiry must be established that has access to all internal RCMP and Cabinet documents in order to determine everything that happened, when it happened, and who was responsible in the Trudeau Cabinet and RCMP,” Conacher told the Hill Times in an emailed statement.

The SNC-Lavalin scandal was a prominent issue in 2019, gaining national attention and leading to the resignations of several key players in Trudeau’s administration, including Wilson-Raybould, then-president of the Treasury Board Jane Philpott, then-Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, and Gerald Butts, at the time the principal secretary to Trudeau.