In a hotly anticipated report released months after a former member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet alleged that Trudeau and several members of his inner circle had tried to pressure her into dropping criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin, Canadian Ethics commissioner Mario Dion has ruled that, in doing so, Trudeau violated a section of the Conflict of Interest Act.
In a report published on Wednesday, the commissioner said Trudeau used his position of authority over Jody Wilson-Raybould, the aforementioned former AG and Justice Minister, to try and convince her to halt a criminal prosecution of the Montreal-based engineering giant. According to the report, Trudeau violated Canada’s federal Conflict of Interest Act.
“The prime minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould,” Dion said.
“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.”
Dion specifically cited Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, which prohibits public officials from “using their position to seek to influence a decision to improperly further the private interests of a third party, either by acting outside the scope of their legislative authority, or contrary to a rule, a convention or an established process.”
The SNC-Lavalin scandal, as it came to be known, ultimately led to the departure of two Trudeau cabinet officials, and the departure of several senior figures from his staff. The opposition has called on him to resign.
As Dion noted in his report, it was not enough just to seek to influence someone else for an action to break the rules.
There had to be a specific desire to “improperly further the interests of SNC-Lavalin.”
Does this mean Trudeau’s Liberal Party will finally abandon its leader? Or is it too close to the October federal elections, where Trudeau is expected to seek a second term, to change course now? Either way, it’s good news for his conservative opponents who are trying to retake control of Ottawa.
Read the full report below: