Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin

Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin

Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin

The Globe and Mail says former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould disappointed the Prime Minister's Office by refusing to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution.

They argue the discussions were all perfectly within the law and, indeed, the government would have been remiss not to deliberate over the fate of the Quebec engineering and construction giant given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company and put thousands of Canadians out of work.

Asked whether he or his office had applied any influence or pressure on the minister, Trudeau repeated they had never directed Wilson-Raybould or Lametti to intervene.

Asked whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would waive the rule that prevents Wilson-Raybould, as the government's former top legal adviser, from saying what she did in the job, Virani repeated that the allegations of improper influence are false.

Wilson-Raybould moved from being attorney general to minister of Veterans Affairs on January 14.

Neither Trudeau nor Wilson-Raybould nor SNC-Lavalin has immediately responded to questions from The Canadian Press about the story.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to instruct the director of the service, Kathleen Roussel, to negotiate a "remediation agreement" with SNC-Lavalin, according to sources who were granted anonymity to speak directly about what went on behind-the-scenes.

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

Conservatives and New Democrats on the Commons justice committee are also joining forces to get an emergency meeting next week to consider a motion calling on nine high-ranking government officials to testify, including Wilson-Raybould herself.

The list includes Lametti, the prime minister's chief of staff Katie Telford and the prime minister's principal secretary Gerald Butts.

Toronto Liberal MP Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to current Justice Minister David Lametti, issued the most sweeping public denial of the story the government has issued so far.

The Official Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister's response Thursday morning was insufficient and scripted.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", he said in a telephone interview from Burnaby, B.C., where he's campaigning for a seat in the House of Commons in a February 25 byelection.

"The allegations that we are hearing in the last 24 hours are unprecedented", Scheer said.

Singh accused the government of sacrificing justice in the interests of a multinational corporation.

Lametti repeatedly said the Prime Minister's Office had not given directives to him or his predecessor on the matter, nor had he or Wilson-Raybould been pressed on the case.

Wilson-Raybould's father, Bill Wilson, said in a Facebook post Thursday that his daughter's cabinet demotion "makes sense now - ugly political sense".

The fact that such directives must be done publicly would seem to constrain a justice minister from doing anything overtly political.

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