Trudeau won’t apologize for ethics breach in SNC-Lavalin case

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On Wednesday the SNC-Lavalin report was released by the Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion that clearly faulted PM Trudeau exerting improper political influence in the scandal. Reacting to the bombshell report, the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he takes full responsibility but insists that he “can’t apologize” for what the federal ethics commissioner’s findings in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

PM Trudeau continues to say that all he was trying to do was protect Canadian jobs. The commissioner clearly found that Trudeau and his staff broke the rules repeatedly over the course of several months in which they pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the Quebec firm avoid a criminal trial.

Trudeau said he accepted the report put out by Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion, which found he broke the Conflict of Interest Act but disagreed with the conclusion Dion drew that Trudeau should not have been putting forward any considerations he wanted Wilson-Raybould to evaluate.

Trudeau said he believed he had the responsibility to raise the potential for job losses at the company if it was forced to go through a criminal prosecution.

Dion, though, had said because any potential public interest in the case was intrinsically linked to the private interests of the company, Trudeau should not have waded in at all to argue for any particular considerations to be given more study.

Dion specifically looked at Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, which bars public office holders from “using their position to seek to influence a decision to improperly further the private interests of a third party, either by acting outside the scope of their legislative authority, or contrary to a rule, a convention or an established process.” “The evidence showed that SNC-Lavalin had significant financial interests in deferring prosecution. These interests would likely have been furthered had Mr. Trudeau successfully influenced the Attorney General to intervene in the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision,” wrote Dion.

He added: “There is no doubt that SNC-Lavalin’s considerable financial interests would have been furthered had Mr. Trudeau successfully influenced Ms. Wilson-Raybould to issue a directive that SNC-Lavalin be invited to negotiate a remediation agreement.”

Wilson-Raybould issued a statement on Wednesday saying the report represented a “vindication” for the independence of the role of attorney general and director of public prosecutions and validated critical concerns raised by her, but also said she felt “sadness” seeing how the affair has played out.

“In a country as great as Canada, essential values and principles that are the foundation for our freedoms and system of government should be actively upheld by all, especially those in positions of public trust,” she wrote.

“We should not struggle to do this; and we should not struggle to acknowledge when we have acted in ways that do not meet those standards.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer reacted to the damning report saying he believed the findings in Dion’s report merit RCMP investigation as to whether Trudeau tried to obstruct justice by interfering in the criminal process playing out with SNC-Lavalin and said Canadians should vote him out of office.

Trudeau might have suffered more of a blow than the Liberal Party itself. Polls by Abacus Data found that 44 per cent of Canadians had a positive impression of the prime minister at the end of 2018. By April, that had plummeted by 12 points to just 32 per cent.

Similarly, approval ratings polls at the end of 2018 and in early 2019 put Trudeau’s numbers somewhere in the mid-to-high 30s. By the end of the spring, those scores had fallen to around 30 per cent, with twice as many Canadians saying they disapproved of the prime minister as those who said they approved of him.

It remains to be seen what kind of an impact this report could have on the federal elections that are around the corner. -CINEWS

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