Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the ethics code by trying to encourage former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to reach a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
"The evidence showed there were many ways in which Mr. Trudeau, either directly or through the actions of those under his direction, sought to influence the Attorney General," Dion wrote, in his report released Wednesday.
"The Prime Minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould. 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 said.
Dion found Trudeau contravened Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act. That section prohibits any official responsible for high level decision-making in government from seeking to influence the decision of another person to "improperly further another person's private interests."
In an interview with Dion as part of the investigation, Trudeau denied he tried to improperly influence Wilson-Raybould but rather he felt that the former justice minister did not adequately consider the possibility of negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin, something he considered to be in the public interest, and that she should be reminded of alternatives to criminal prosecution for alleged corporate wrongdoing.
Trudeau said he was concerned that a criminal prosecution could have wide-ranging consequences for SNC-Lavalin employees, shareholders, customers and suppliers, and could threaten the continued viability of the major firm.
More to come