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Democracy Watch calls on Ottawa police to investigate obstruction of SNC-Lavalin prosecution by Trudeau Cabinet officials as RCMP lacks independence from Cabinet

Recently disclosed documents about RCMP Commissioner’s relationship with the PM, and about investigation into Trudeau’s Aga Khan trip gift, raise serious questions about RCMP impartiality and competence

Thursday, July 21, 2022

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it has sent calling on the Ottawa police to investigate the allegation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Finance Minister Bill Morneau, some members of their staff, and former Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick obstructed justice by pressuring then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, and committed a breach of trust in doing so.

Democracy Watch is asking the Ottawa police to step in because recent disclosures concerning the investigation of the mass shooting situation in Nova Scotia have raised serious questions about whether the RCMP is subject to political pressure from the federal Cabinet. As well, recent disclosures concerning the investigation into the trip gift given by the Aga Khan to Prime Minister Trudeau and his family show that the RCMP did not do a full investigation of that situation, neglecting to ask the Prime Minister key questions and to disclose key evidence.

As well, neither the RCMP nor Crown prosecutors have issued any information or statements since August 2019 about the investigation into the SNC-Lavalin situation. Democracy Watch sent a letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki requesting an update in February 2021, and again in June 2022, as the public has a right to know the findings and the basis of any decisions concerning prosecutions.

“Given that three years have passed the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling on wrongdoing by Prime Minister Trudeau and other government officials pressuring the Attorney General to stop prosecuting SNC-Lavalin, and given the RCMP is refusing to give an update on its investigation, and recent disclosures have raised serious questions concerning the RCMP’s independence from the federal Cabinet, and competence, Democracy Watch is requesting that the Ottawa police take over the investigation into the SNC-Lavalin situation,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Ph.D. student at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

“It seems that the RCMP and federal prosecutors are waiting for a third federal election to pass, and doing what often happens in Canada when powerful politicians and government officials are involved in alleged illegal activities – delaying with the hope that they can eventually bury the results of the investigation,” said Conacher. “Hopefully the Ottawa police will do their job properly and investigate the alleged wrongdoing quickly, given most of the key facts are well known, and issue a public statement on prosecution decisions when their investigation is concluded, as the public has a right to know.”

Democracy Watch’s position is that, according to federal prosecution policy, and given there are no past court rulings on a similar situation in Canada, prosecutors should let the courts decide whether the lines in the Criminal Code were crossed, and also for the following reasons:

  1. Obstruction of justice is a serious criminal offence, as is breach of trust.
  2. Obstruction of justice is even more serious when committed behind closed doors by government politicians and officials, as it is then also an act of government corruption.
  3. As summarized in the letter, all of the elements needed to prove obstruction of justice (subsection 139(2) of the Criminal Code) are present in the actions of the Prime Minister and others as they pressured the Attorney General multiple times to stop the prosecution.
  4. Also as set out in the letter, all of the elements needed to prove breach of trust (subsection 122 of the Code) are present in the situation.
  5. Concerning intent, federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion concluded in 284 of his August 2019 ruling that “Mr. Trudeau knowingly sought to influence Ms. Wilson-Raybould both directly and through the actions of his agents.”

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

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign and Stop Unfair Law Enforcement Campaign