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Democracy Watch calls on Ethics Commissioner to ensure investigation into PMO trying to influence Attorney General’s decision about SNC-Lavalin prosecution

Commissioner Dion should delegate investigation to a provincial ethics commissioner – he is biased as Trudeau Cabinet chose him after secretive process

Friday, February 8, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it has sent to federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion calling on him to delegate an inquiry into whether Prime Minister Trudeau or anyone in the PMO violated the federal government ethics law by trying to pressure Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene and stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC).

Ethics Commissioner Dion should delegate the investigation and ruling on the situation to a provincial ethics commissioner who has no ties to any federal party, given that he was chosen by the Trudeau Cabinet after a secretive, Cabinet-controlled process that failed to consult with opposition parties as required by the Parliament of Canada Act. Mr. Dion also has a record 8 unethical and questionable actions when he was federal Integrity Commissioner.

As the Globe and Mail reported yesterday, unnamed sources in the federal government claim that members of the PMO pressured the Attorney General to intervene. Prime Minister Trudeau denied yesterday that he or anyone in the PMO had directed the Attorney General to stop the prosecution, but did not reject the claim that people in the PMO had pressured the Attorney General, according to another Globe article.

It is a violation for anyone covered by the federal the Conflict of Interest Act, including the Prime Minister and PMO staff, to “use his or her position as a public office holder to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to… improperly further another person’s private interests” (section 9).

Democracy Watch’s position is that stopping the prosecution would clearly further SNC-Lavalin’s private interests, and that it would be improper to pressure the Attorney General to intervene to stop the prosecution because the PPSC was established explicitly to prevent such political interference in prosecutions.

“If anyone in the PMO tried to pressure the Attorney General to intervene and stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, they violated the federal ethics law, and so a full, independent investigation is needed,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Ethics Commissioner Dion should not be ruling on any situations involving Liberals as he was hand-picked by the Trudeau Cabinet through a secretive, very questionable process, and so he should delegate the investigation to a provincial ethics commissioner.”

Democracy Watch also called for an investigation into whether anyone in the PMO used secret information they learned from the many lobbying meetings SNC-Lavalin had with the PMO in an effort to influence the Attorney General (which would violate section 8 of the Act), and whether anyone from SNC-Lavalin has a relationship with anyone in the PMO that would cause them to give them preferential treatment by trying to influence the Attorney General (which would violate section 7 of the Act).

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Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179 Cell: 416-546-3443
[email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign