FACT CHECK: Justin Trudeau on the Ethics Commissioner’s Report into the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal
August 14, 2019
Justin Trudeau has been misleading Canadians every step of the way during the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
He said the original Globe and Mail story was “false.” We now know that’s not true.
He said he did not interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. We now know that’s not true.
He said Jody Wilson-Raybould never raised any concerns with him. We now know that’s not true.
Justin Trudeau’s press conference today was no different. Here’s a fact-check of some of Justin Trudeau’s misleading statements.
Justin Trudeau: “It was not a small thing for our government to decide to waive both solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidence in the matter…we took that decision because we knew that it was important that Canadians and obviously the ethics commissioner would be able to access all the information and hear all testimony in regards to the matter at hand.”
Justin Trudeau has not waived cabinet confidence in its entirety, instead cleverly crafting the wording to ensure certain key details are not made public.
The Ethics Commissioner specifically said in his report that he did not have access to all of the necessary information: “The decision made by the Privy Council Office to deny our Office access to a full range of Cabinet confidences meant nine witnesses were constrained in providing our Office with the full body of evidence potentially relevant to the examination. I believe that decisions relating to my access to such information should be made transparently and democratically by Parliament, not by the very same public office holders who are subject to the regime I administer.”
The Ethics Commissioner added, “During this examination, nine witnesses informed our Office that they had information they believed to be relevant, but that could not be disclosed because, according to them, this information would reveal a confidence of the Queen’s Privy Council and would fall outside the scope of Order in Council 2019-0105.”
The Trudeau Liberals are still preventing Jody Wilson-Raybould from sharing her side of the story after she was fired as Attorney General.
Justin Trudeau: “I can’t apologize for standing up for Canadian jobs.”
The motive behind the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal is clearly the Liberal Party’s political self-interests – not Canadian jobs.
The Ethics Commissioner found that on four separate occasions partisan political interests were raised with Jody Wilson-Raybould.
In her testimony to the Justice Committee, Jody Wilson-Raybould said that the Prime Minister told her “I am an MP in Quebec – the member for Papineau.” Wilson-Raybould also said that a senior Trudeau Liberal staffer told her team that “if six months from the election SNC announces they’re moving their headquarters out of Canada, that is bad. He said, “We can have the best policy in the world but we need to get re-elected.””
The Ethics Commissioner added in his report that, “While SNC-Lavalin would have benefited from Ms. Wilson‑Raybould’s intervention in the matter, the evidence showed that the governing party also considered the partisan political consequences of not being able to secure a remediation agreement for the company.”
When the Minister of Finance was asked by the Ethics Commissioner about whether any economic analysis was conducted into the consequences of not providing a DPA to SNC-Lavalin he said no: “When asked if he, or his office, had undertaken a study or analysis of the economic impacts of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision, Mr. Morneau testified that none had been conducted.”
It’s clear the only jobs Justin Trudeau cared about were his own and those of his Liberal MPs.
Justin Trudeau: “As I said, I take full responsibility. The buck stops with the prime minister.”
Trudeau’s legal counsel made the following argument to the Ethics Commissioner: “Third, Mr. Trudeau’s counsel argued that even if his ministerial staff and the Clerk of the Privy Council act on behalf of the Prime Minister when engaging with other ministers or their representatives, Mr. Trudeau cannot be vicariously liable for the actions of his staff since, according to counsel, liability under the Act is personal and based on subjective intent.”
Justin Trudeau: “Where I disagree with the commissioner amongst others is where he says and takes a strong perspective that any contact with the attorney general on this issue was improper.”
As the Ethics Commissioner wrote, “Simply seeking to influence the decision of another person is insufficient for there to be a contravention of section 9.”
What the Ethics Commissioner found is that the Prime Minister improperly interfered in a criminal trial in order to suit his partisan self-interests.
This is not the first-time Justin Trudeau has disagreed with the Ethics Commissioner. When he was found guilty of breaking ethics laws for taking a luxury vacation on a private island on the dime of the Aga Khan, the Prime Minister disagreed with the Ethics Commissioner’s definition of his relationship with the Aga Khan.
Justin Trudeau can’t pick and choose the recommendations and conclusions of the Ethics Commissioner, who is an independent officer of Parliament.