Ottawa: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke the ethics code by trying to influence then Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule a decision to not grant a deferred prosecution agreement to Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, said Canadian Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion.
“The evidence showed there were many ways in which Trudeau, either directly or through the actions of those under his direction, sought to influence the Attorney General,” Dion said in a report released Wednesday, Xinhua reported.
“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 Wilson Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer,” said Dion.
In the report, Dion noted Trudeau’s position that he was concerned about potential job losses should SNC-Lavalin be found guilty and therefore potentially not eligible for Canadian government contracts for a decade.
Partisan considerations were indeed “improperly” put to the attorney general at the time, contravening the long-held principle of prosecutorial independence, Dion said.
The commissioner also said 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.”
The scandal centered on allegations from Jody Wilson-Raybould that she faced high-level “veiled threats” and political interference in the criminal prosecution of the Quebec construction giant. Wilson-Raybould said that she was pressured to have federal prosecutors pursue a remediation agreement, otherwise known as a deferred prosecution agreement, rather than criminal prosecution in the case, but she was unwilling.