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Trudeau breached federal ethics rules in SNC-Lavalin affair

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | August 14, 2019
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion released the Trudeau II Report, an examination of the allegation that the Prime Minister sought to influence the Attorney General of Canada in her decision on whether to intervene in a criminal prosecution involving SNC‑Lavalin.
Mario Dion
Canada   Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion
After reviewing evidence and several fundamental legal and constitutional principles related to this matter, Commissioner Dion found that Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, contravened section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act (Act).

Topics: Trudeau SNC Lavalin

Commissioner Dion determined that, as Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau was the only public office holder able to exert influence over the Attorney General in her decision whether to intervene in a matter relating to a criminal prosecution.

He also found that other senior officials within the Prime Minister's Office were directed, by the Prime Minister, to find a solution in a desire to use the newly adopted remediation agreement tool, also called a deferred prosecution agreement, in the criminal matter involving SNC-Lavalin.

Mr. Trudeau's stated position in the matter was that he was concerned about the issue of potential job losses and the repercussions to the company's employees, pensioners and shareholders.

The Prime Minister's overall aim was to consult with the Attorney General to ensure that she had properly considered the option of negotiating a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.

The Prime Minister and his senior officials subsequently sought over a period of many months to have the Attorney General overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision to not invite SNC-Lavalin to enter into negotiations towards a remediation agreement.

Commissioner Dion found that these senior officials, who included both senior ministerial staff and public officials, would not have acted without a full and clear appreciation of the Prime Minister's position on the matter.

In the report findings, Commissioner Dion reviewed how private and public interests can take many forms, including financial or political.

This led him to conclude that SNC-Lavalin's considerable private financial interests would undoubtedly have been furthered had Mr. Trudeau successfully influenced the Attorney General in her decision to overturn the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision relating to the company.

Commissioner Dion also found that partisan political interests were improperly put to the Attorney General for consideration in the matter, contrary to longstanding constitutional principles relating to prosecutorial independence and the rule of law.