Ottawa: Federal opposition leader Andrew Scheer has been calling for a more serious punishment for the Justin Trudeau after ethics commissioner’s stinging conclusions about PM's handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair, including suggesting to be aligned with a criminal offence. Scheer renewed call for a probe into possible obstruction of justice, detailed in a letter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), comes only two months before national elections.
It follows independent parliamentary ethics commissioner Mario Dion's rebuke of Trudeau over the breach - which the prime minister rejected - and the recent disclosure that federal police had earlier this year taken an interest in the case involving engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. "Today, in light of both the ethics commissioner's finding and the revelations about the RCMP's previous involvement, I have formally requested the RCMP take another look," Scheer told a news conference. He first asked for an RCMP probe in February. "I believe (there) are significant grounds for an investigation into whether or not Justin Trudeau violated section 139 of the Criminal Code, obstructing justice," he said. "We know that Justin Trudeau has broken the law. We need to know if he has committed a crime."
Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, one of the world's major engineering firms, was charged in 2015 with paying bribes to secure contracts in Libya. Attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to ask prosecutors to settle the case, and a judge ruled in May that there was sufficient evidence to proceed to a trial. But after resigning, she testified to lawmakers that she had experienced "consistent and sustained" political pressure to interfere in the case, including "veiled threats."
In a report last week, Dion concluded that Trudeau and his inner circle tried to "circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit" the decision not to offer SNC-Lavalin an out-of court settlement that would have resulted in a fine and agreeing to compliance measures.
Trudeau has acknowledged mistakes but has refused to apologize, citing the company's claims that a conviction at trial would deprive the company of lucrative government contracts resulting in up to 9,000 jobs lost. "I can't apologise for standing up for Canadian jobs," he said.