Opposition keeps heat on Liberals over Wilson-Raybould

Trudeau denies report his office pressured attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin

The federal Conservatives are calling for several senior Trudeau staffers and cabinet ministers to appear before the House justice committee to respond to allegations that the Prime Minister's Office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Thursday that SNC-Lavalin repeatedly lobbied Trudeau's aides for a deal and that his office leaned on Wilson-Raybould to make it happen. After lobbying by the company of government officials, including those in the PMO, the government included in its 2018 budget a Criminal Code amendment to allow such agreements to be negotiated in cases of corporate crime, as is done in the United States and the United Kingdom.

As part of a cabinet shuffle last month, Trudeau reassigned Wilson-Raybould from the justice portfolio to become Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense.

Trudeau is denying the allegations.

Asked whether he or his office had applied any influence or pressure on the minister, Trudeau repeated they had never directed Wilson-Raybould or Lametti to intervene.

Some pretty hefty allegations have come out against the prime minister's office.

According to the Globe and Mail, PMO officials met with SNC-Lavalin lobbyists and attempted to pressure the former AG to intervene in a corruption and fraud case that the company is now embroiled in.

The Conservatives' Scheer and the New Democrats' Singh both called Friday for an ethics probe into the allegations.

Mr. Scheer called for "full disclosure" from Mr. Trudeau on the interactions between the PMO and Ms. Wilson-Raybould regarding SNC-Lavalin.

"If he continues to fail to be transparent with Canadians, Conservatives will make every effort and explore every option to make sure Justin Trudeau and his office are held accountable", Scheer said.

Inmate falls through ceiling trying to escape from jail
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Meantime, the parliamentary secretary to justice has offered the most sweeping denial yet from the Trudeau government.

She has refused to comment on the alleged pressure from PMO to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial, telling the Globe and Mail that the matter is "between me and the government as the government's previous lawyer".

They spoke on condition their names not be used.

Rudd added that, based on Wilson-Raybould's activity on Twitter and Facebook, she's clearly "engaged" with her new job.

The topic kept the Liberals hopping in Question Period.

Conservative MP Mark Strahl baldly accused the government of firing Wilson-Raybould for failing to follow orders.

In her most recent statement on the affair, Wilson-Raybould said she would not be commenting on the allegations because of her "solicitor-client privilege".

The attorney general can give the director of public prosecutions directives on general issues and on individual cases, provided the directives are in writing and published in the Canada Gazette, the federal register.

The fact that such directives must be done publicly is meant to constrain a justice minister from doing anything overtly political.

The case is now before a court, and if convicted, SNC-Lavalin could be barred from competing for Canadian government contracts for up to 10 years. "It hurts their reputation", he said.

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