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RCMP confirms it misled Democracy Watch with letter saying its investigation of obstruction of SNC-Lavalin prosecution by Liberal Cabinet was ongoing – investigation ended in January

RCMP concluded “there was insufficient evidence to substantiate a criminal offence”

RCMP needs to explain how incorrect May 25th letter was sent to DWatch, and to disclose 86 pages now that it withheld about the investigation

Thursday, June 22, 2023

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called on the RCMP to explain how its Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Branch sent a letter dated May 25, 2023 to Democracy Watch in response to Democracy Watch’s July 2022 Access to Information Act (ATIA) request that contained incorrect information saying that the allegation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Liberal Cabinet members obstructed justice by pressuring then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin in 2018 “is currently under investigation”.

In statements issued to the media late in the afternoon on Monday, June 19, 2023 and in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the RCMP said that the investigation ended in January 2023, and that the incorrect information in the May 25th letter was sent by its ATIP Branch to Democracy Watch “using information available at the time.” (Click here to see those two full statements from the RCMP posted in Democracy Watch’s June 19, 2023 News Release).

“The RCMP 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,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Democracy Watch is filing an access to information request with the RCMP for all those internal communications.”

Attached to the May 25th letter was a 96-page document with 86 pages fully redacted because, the letter incorrectly claimed, “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”. As a result, questions about when the RCMP’s investigation began, who and what it involved, and the basis of its conclusions, all remain unanswered.

The RCMP’s June 21, 2023 statement says: “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.

“Given the investigation ended in January, and that the only reason the RCMP gave for keeping the documents secret was the incorrect claim that the allegations were still being investigated, it is completely unjustifiable to delay the disclosure of the 86 pages for another three months,” said Conacher.

“All of the RCMP’s conflicting actions and statements and the problems they have caused in this situation are due to their systemic culture of excessive secrecy, and the lack of timely, effective enforcement of the federal access to information law, including penalties for disclosure delays and other violations. As a result, the public’s right to know have been violated, but no one will be held accountable, let alone penalized,” said Conacher. “This shows the importance of the Liberal government acting quickly to make the changes to strengthen the access to information law and enforcement, and to establish penalties for violations, as recommended by a House Committee in its recent report.”

If the RCMP was committed to transparency and independent, effective law enforcement, it would have made it clear back in 2019 when the allegations were first made that an independent special prosecutor would oversee the investigation and would issue a public report as soon as it ended that provided a summary of the investigation process and details about any prosecution decisions. Instead, the end of the investigation was only disclosed months later after unjustifiable delays and through conflicting, vague statements from the RCMP that provided limited information and raised even more questions.

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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