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Former attorney general says she can’t publicly discuss SNC Lavalin allegations

10 February 2019

In the bombshell report from The Globe and Mail we now understand truly what she meant, because when the now former justice minister refused to drop the fraud and corruption trial against SNC Lavalin, she was sacked.

The company, based in Canada's Quebec province, was charged with corruption and fraud in connection with payments of almost 36 million USA dollars in bribes to public officials in the former Libyan government of late leader Muammar Gaddafi and defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated 98 million dollars between 2001 and 2011.

On the day she was removed from the office of Attorney General by Mr. Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould wrote: "It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence".

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said the prime minister should have nothing to fear from an independent investigation by the federal ethics commissioner if, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insists, the allegations are not true.

No such agreement was ever reached and Wilson-Raybould was moved to be minister of veterans affairs in a January cabinet shuffle.

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in extensive, internal government discussions last fall about whether SNC-Lavalin should be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution - and government officials maintain there's nothing wrong with that.

During the heady days of Justin Trudeau's "because it's 2015" declaration, Wilson-Raybould's ascension to the role of the nation's top justice official defined the moment.

The SNC Lavalin affair dominated the House of Commons question period on Thursday.

The federal director of public prosecutions told SNC-Lavalin in October that negotiating a remediation agreement would be inappropriate in this particular case.

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"As the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter", she said.

Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew has demanded that parliament convenes an emergency meeting to address the accusations of political interference. The Ethics Commissioner should also investigate if Justin Trudeau was one of the recipients of the illegal donations.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", Singh said in a telephone interview with the Canadian Press. After lobbying by the company of government officials, including those in the PMO, the government included in its 2018 budget a Criminal Code amendment to allow such agreements to be negotiated in cases of corporate crime, as is done in the United States and the United Kingdom.

"If he truly wants to clear this up and believes there's been no wrongdoing, he should welcome an investigation from the ethics commissioner".

If passed, the committee would hear from Wilson-Raybould, new Attorney General David Lametti, Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, Trudeau's principal secretary Gerald Butts, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, director of public prosecutions Kathleen Roussel, senior PMO advisers Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques; and Wilson-Raybould's chief of staff Jessica Prince.

SNC has previously been charged with bribery and corruption over its efforts to secure government business in Libya.

The relationship between federal prosecutors and the attorney general was reshaped in 2006 with the The Director of Public Prosecutions Act, contained in an accountability bill passed by the Conservative government of the day under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The PMO and Lametti's office say they haven't contacted by the police, while Wilson-Raybould declined to comment. He predicted "history will prove that she did the right thing".

Former attorney general says she can’t publicly discuss SNC Lavalin allegations