Liberals Shut Down Discussion With RCMP On Shutting Down Trudeau-SNC-Lavalin Probe

The Liberal party abruptly suspended a parliamentary committee that was on the verge of hearing from top RCMP officials regarding the lack of a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s actions in connection with the SNC-Lavalin affair.

At the outset of the meeting on Monday, Liberal MP Mona Fortier took the floor to express her concerns. She pointed out that the members of the parliamentary ethics committee had only received late notice on Friday afternoon that the agenda had shifted from its focus on TikTok to a session with the RCMP.

Scheduled to provide a “briefing session” on the matter were RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme and Sergeant Frédéric Pincince, who oversaw the SNC-Lavalin investigation. This change was prompted by documents released by Democracy Watch the previous week, shedding light on the federal police force’s decision to terminate their four-year-long investigation.

Fortier stressed that any modifications to the committee’s schedule typically require a 48-hour notice period. She argued that the decision to invite RCMP officials was made at the last minute, stating, “This had not been discussed whatsoever by the committee. I think the committee should have at least had the opportunity to debate a motion and to present it in due form.” Fortier then moved a motion to adjourn the meeting, leading to a heated exchange of words from both sides.

Conservative MP Michael Barrett criticized the government MPs for attempting to shut down a hearing on a serious matter concerning a criminal investigation into the prime minister. He asserted that the situation was unacceptable.

Less than five minutes into the meeting, the majority of Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, and NDP MPs voted to adjourn, while the Conservatives voted against it. Committee chair John Brassard apologized to Duheme and Pincince, who were waiting to provide their insights.

Since 2019, the RCMP had been probing whether Trudeau had violated any criminal laws by pressuring former Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to grant SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement. The Montreal construction company had lobbied extensively in 2018 to avoid criminal prosecution in a fraud and corruption case, arguing that it would have severe economic repercussions in Quebec.

Despite the pressure, Wilson-Raybould remained steadfast in her decision not to interfere in the Director of Public Prosecution’s judgment. This led to senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office attempting to persuade her to reconsider seeking external advice on the matter.

Wilson-Raybould was eventually replaced as justice minister and attorney general in an early 2019 cabinet shuffle and was expelled from the Liberal caucus. The ethics commissioner found Trudeau in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act.

Records made public by Democracy Watch last week revealed that the RCMP primarily relied on public statements made by those involved in the SNC-Lavalin matter to form their conclusions. They conducted interviews with only three individuals over a span of four years: Wilson-Raybould, her former chief of staff Jessica Prince, and former deputy justice minister Nathalie Drouin.

Moreover, the RCMP did not even attempt to secure a search warrant to access confidential cabinet documents, records, or communications, citing “insufficient evidence” based on publicly available information to suggest a criminal offense.

An assessment report prepared by Sergeant Pincince in February 2021 stated that the conclusions in the document “do not imply the absence of a criminal offense.” Instead, it noted that, given the current legal framework and the evidence threshold required for a criminal conviction, there was insufficient evidence to warrant further investigative actions or a criminal prosecution.

The RCMP cited a few examples to argue against the need for a criminal prosecution in the SNC-Lavalin case. For instance, in a 2019 parliamentary committee session, Wilson-Raybould described the situation as inappropriate rather than illegal, an opinion that the federal police believed could “undermine a criminal prosecution” in court.

The RCMP also contended that the cabinet shuffle, which saw Wilson-Raybould removed from her position, could be interpreted as an attempt to obstruct justice if it was meant to enable the attorney general to take a different approach on SNC-Lavalin. However, officials from the Prime Minister’s Office linked the cabinet changes to Scott Brison’s departure from politics and denied any connection to the SNC-Lavalin matter.

In March 2021, RCMP superintendent Mike MacLean emailed Sgt. Pincince, seeking confirmation that every possible avenue had been explored to meet and speak with all witnesses and that all available evidence had been exhausted. It was not until nearly two years later, in January 2023, that the assessment report was submitted to Wilson-Raybould, and the file was reviewed for finalization in May of the same year.

It’s important to note that in December 2019, an agreement was reached with SNC-Lavalin Construction, where they pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud over $5,000. The company agreed to pay a penalty of $280 million and adhere to a three-year probation order, while the remaining charges were stayed.

Information for this story was found via National Post and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses

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