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Democracy Watch in court today vs. Ethics Commissioner’s ruling that let everyone off except PM Trudeau for pressuring Attorney General to stop SNC-Lavalin prosecution

Case also raises Ethics Commissioner Dion’s bias in ruling – Trudeau Cabinet chose him after secretive, biased process

RCMP and prosecutors must explain publicly what they have decided re: prosecuting PM Trudeau and others for obstruction of justice

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch’s application is being heard virtually in the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) challenging federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion’s ruling that let everyone off the hook, except Prime Minister Trudeau, for pressuring former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC). Daniel Tucker-Simmons of Avant Law is representing Democracy Watch in the case, Federal Court of Appeal File #A-331-19.

DWatch is challenging this part of the ruling in court because in paragraphs 262-281 (pages 41-44) the Ethics Commissioner summarizes the actions of Finance Minister Bill Morneau, some of his staff, PCO Clerk Michael Wernick, and PMO staff that put pressure on the Attorney General. However, in paragraphs 282-286 (page 44), the Ethics Commissioner then excuses the actions of everyone except Prime Minister Trudeau on the very questionable basis that the other officials “could not have influenced the Attorney General” and were acting “under the direction or authority of the Prime Minister…”

As the Ethics Commissioner ruled, by attempting to influence the Attorney General, Trudeau violated section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act. Morneau, Wernick and the others also attempted to influence the AG. It is irrelevant whether they had the same power over the AG as the PM has.

“The Ethics Commissioner made the right ruling by finding Prime Minister Trudeau guilty of violating the ethics law for pressuring the Attorney General to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, but he should have also found other PMO and government officials guilty because they also pressured the Attorney General,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “The Ethics Commissioner’s ruling set a dangerous precedent because it says Cabinet ministers and staff can violate the ethics law as long as they are just following orders from the PM, or don’t have direct power over the government official they are trying to influence, and that’s why Democracy Watch is challenging the ruling.”

Democracy Watch is also arguing that Ethics Commissioner Dion should have delegated the investigation and ruling on the situation to a provincial ethics commissioner who had no ties to any federal party, given that he was chosen by the Trudeau Cabinet after a secretive, Cabinet-controlled process. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled the Trudeau Cabinet was biased when it appointed Ethics Commissioner Dion. Dion also had a record 8 unethical and questionable actions when he was federal Integrity Commissioner.

“Ethics Commissioner Dion should not be ruling on any situations involving Liberals as he was hand-picked by the Trudeau Cabinet through a biased, secretive process, and has an unethical past enforcement record, and so he should delegate investigations to a provincial ethics commissioner,” said Conacher.

Given the evidence in the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling, Democracy Watch continues to call, including in an open letter in February 2021, on the RCMP and Crown prosecutors to issue a full, public explanation if they decide not to prosecute Prime Minister Trudeau and other government officials for obstruction of justice for trying to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

“Given the evidence, the public has a right to know the reasons if the RCMP and prosecutors decide not to prosecute Prime Minister Trudeau and others for obstruction of justice for trying to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin,” said Conacher.

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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