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RCMP confirms it is was investigating obstruction of SNC-Lavalin prosecution by Trudeau and Cabinet officials

RCMP discloses 96-page document under Access to Information Act with 86 pages redacted because “matter is currently under investigation”

(please see the first NOTE and UPDATE set out below, and click here to see more details in Democracy Watch’s June 22, 2023 New Release)

On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the RCMP issued another statement to the media about the situation of the RCMP sending a letter dated May 25, 2023 to Democracy Watch that contained incorrect information about the RCMP’s investigation into Prime Minister Trudeau and other Liberal Cabinet ministers obstructing the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin back in 2018. The RCMP’s June 21st statement is as follows:

“In a May 2023 Access to Information (ATI) release, the RCMP informed a requester that records they were seeking were exempt from release as the matter was under investigation. This information was incorrect, and based on the information available to the ATIP Branch at that time.

As previously stated, the RCMP is not investigating allegations of political interference in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to secure a remediation agreement for SNC-Lavalin. The RCMP’s Sensitive and International Investigations unit had conducted an assessment pertaining to these allegations and determined there was insufficient evidence to substantiate a criminal offence and the file was concluded by January 2023.

The RCMP will undertake a new review of the records, and, following necessary consultations, will provide a new release package to the requester within 90 days.”

Democracy Watch’s response to this statement is as follows:

Based on receiving confirmation from the RCMP that the RCMP misled Democracy Watch by sending it a letter dated May 25, 2023 that contained incorrect information that said the allegation that Prime Minister Trudeau and other members of the Liberal Cabinet obstructed the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin is “currently under investigation” by the RCMP, and based on receiving confirmation from the RCMP that the RCMP’s investigation of that allegation concluded in January 2023, Democracy Watch has updated its Monday, June 19, 2023 News Release on this webpage by changing “is investigating” to “was investigating” in the headline and first paragraph of the Release.

Given the investigation ended in January, and that the only reason the RCMP gave for keeping the documents secret was that the allegations were still being investigated, it is completely unjustifiable to delay the disclosure of the 86 pages for another three months (see details below about the 86 pages).

The RCMP also needs to disclose all the internal communications that led to their access to information branch not knowing at the end of May that their investigation unit had ended the investigation last January so that the public knows who exactly failed to communicate that information internally, who reviewed and approved the May 25th letter that was sent to Democracy Watch, and when each review and approval step took place. Democracy Watch is filing an Access to Information Act (ATIA) request for those internal communications.


The RCMP posted a short tweet about the contents of this news release and media stories about it on its Twitter account at about 6 pm ET on June 19, 2023, and issued a longer statement to the media.

The RCMP’s full statement to the media, which none of the media have included in their stories (so far), is as follows:

“The RCMP is not investigating allegations of political interference in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to secure a remediation agreement for SNC-Lavalin. The statement, in a May 2023 Access to Information Release was sent using information available at the time.

The RCMP’s Sensitive and International Investigations unit conducted an assessment pertaining to these allegations. As part of that review the RCMP spoke with and collected information from a variety of sources, and examined the matter in the most thorough, objective and professional manner.

After a comprehensive and impartial assessment of all available information, the RCMP determined that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate a criminal offence and the file was concluded.

The conclusion of that file was communicated to the original complainant in a letter in January 2023 and was also to be released via several Access to Information Requests received.

Media Relations and Communications
RCMP O Division (Ontario)”

Democracy Watch’s response to the RCMP’s statement is as follows:

The RCMP’s statement is weirdly vague. The May 25, 2023 RCMP letter says they were investigating, and redacted 86 pages of the records it disclosed because they were investigating, but actually that decision to end the investigation was made in January 2023 and communicated to an unknown original complainant but not to anyone else? But it was supposed to have been communicated to everyone who filed an access-to-information request? The decision was not even communicated to the RCMP Access to Information unit staff for 5 months and, as a result, they sent the letter to Democracy Watch dated May 25, 2023 that said the matter was “currently under investigation”?

This raises even more questions than the letter sent to Democracy Watch on May 25th.

The RCMP’s story doesn’t add up because they are contradicting themselves about when the allegations were being investigated, and when decisions were made to end the investigation. If the investigation ended in January 2023, then why did the RCMP refuse to disclose 86 pages of their investigation documents just a few weeks ago because, they said, the allegations were still under investigation?

To clear up this matter, the RCMP must answer those questions, and disclose the 86 pages that they refused to disclose.

Monday, June 19, 2023

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the response it received recently to its Access to Information Act (ATIA) filed with the RCMP on July 27, 2022. The RCMP’s response letter, dated May 25, 2023, confirms it is was investigating 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 in 2018.

Attached to the response letter is a 96-page document with 86 pages fully redacted because “this matter is currently under investigation.” Only Democracy Watch’s 5-page February 2021 letter to the RCMP is unredacted, and four pages are fully redacted because they are “not relevant” and one page because it is “redundant”.

This is the first public statement the RCMP has made about the situation since August 14, 2019 when it stated that it was examining the situation carefully. On September 10, 2019, the Globe and Mail reported that Ian Shugart, then-Clerk of the Privy Council, had refused to waive Cabinet confidence to allow government witnesses to provide full information to the RCMP, and that sources within the RCMP said it was putting its examination on hold through the fall 2019 federal election campaign period. The next day former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould stated publicly that she had been interviewed by the RCMP about the actions of the Prime Minister and others, as reported by the Globe and Mail.

“The RCMP should have confirmed long ago that it was investigating the situation given the evidence, and that more than four years have passed since the situation was made public, and almost four years since the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling finding that Prime Minister Trudeau violated the federal ethics law pressuring the Attorney General,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Given four years have passed, it is difficult to believe that the investigation has not been completed, and it raises many questions for the RCMP to answer.”

Democracy Watch called on the RCMP to answer the following questions:

  1. When did the examination end and the investigation begin?
  2. How many investigators have been investigating?
  3. How many hours in total have they spent investigating?
  4. Have there been negotiations with the PMO to disclose Cabinet confidences about the situation and, if not, why has the RCMP let almost four years pass without challenging the refusal to disclose in court?
  5. When does the RCMP expect that the investigation will conclude?
  6. Will the RCMP and Crown prosecutors issue a full public explanation of the investigation and its findings when it concludes?

Democracy Watch sent a letter to the RCMP in February 2021 setting out the grounds for prosecuting for obstruction of justice, and calling on the RCMP and Crown prosecutors to issue the full, public explanation that the public has a right to about the state of the examination (this letter is included in the 96-page record disclosed by the RCMP). The RCMP did not respond.

On June 1, 2022, Democracy Watch sent a second letter to the RCMP again setting out the grounds for prosecuting, and again calling for a full, public update, and also requesting disclosure of records under the ATIA. DWatch filed the ATIA request because the RCMP had disclosed documents in spring 2022 under the ATIA explaining its decisions concerning its investigation into the Aga Khan’s trip gift to Trudeau and his family. After some communications with the RCMP clarifying the request, it was finalized on July 27, 2022.

“Are the RCMP and prosecutors waiting for a third federal election to pass, or 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?” asked 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 and Stop Unfair Law Enforcement Campaign