Wednesday , July 28 2021

Sheer wants Trudo to testify to SNC-Lavalin's affair

Conservative leader Andrew Sheer wants Prime Minister Justin Trudo to appear as a witness to the justice committee, which is investigating SNC-Lavalin's affair.

The Conservative's proposal claims that Trudo should be called on to answer questions, given his "direct involvement in the ongoing efforts to influence SNC-Lavalin's prosecution." He urges the prime minister to appear on a two-hour television commission under oath.

At a press conference Monday in parliament, Sheer said there was an unprecedented attempt to change the course of justice through political interference.

"Politicians fail to fulfill our judicial system," he said.

"What we have seen over the last two weeks is a textbook on corruption in the government, as those who are at the top of the prime minister's office are implicated in what might be impeding justice."

Sheer said that Trudo has presided over undesirable, coordinated, and sustained efforts to allow the former Chief Prosecutor to reverse the prosecution's decision to proceed with criminal prosecution against SNC-Lavalin, the global engineering and construction company in Quebec.

"Canadians have to be outraged by the assumption that politicians are putting pressure on Crown's independent agents, independent legal officials, to try to get a better deal for well-connected Liberal party friends," he said. – This is unacceptable.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer outlines the proposal to call on the Prime Minister to appear before the Justice Committee. 01:25

Deputies debate the conservative proposal in the House of Commons, but it is unlikely that it will be adopted by a liberal majority.

A prime minister rarely appears before a commission.

On September 7, 2006, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared before a special commission on Senate reform.

Sometimes former prime ministers, including former Prime Minister Paul Martin, appeared on 9 November 2006 on the agreement between Kelowna and Brian Mullory regarding the village of Airbus on 13 December 2007.

Later today, the Justice Committee will hear a number of legal experts.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, whose resignation from Trudeau's office on Feb. 12 after Globe and Mail's February 7 narrative touched the scandal, is expected to witness this week, but the exact time has not yet been confirmed.

Last week, Canada's top official, Michael Wernick, told the Justice Commission that he warned Wilson-Reible that he would have economic consequences from SNC-Lavalin's pursuit, including major job losses. He claims, however, that he, Trudo and officials in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister did not impose an inappropriate pressure on the Minister.

Trudo said on Friday that Wernik was "an outstanding civil servant" who served Canada with "integrity and brilliance."

"I recommend that people pay attention to the words of the Secretary of the Secret Council. Serving him in that state for decades in the civil service leaves him in a good position to understand what institutions are based on and make sure that we "do the right things as a government. "

Legal experts were expected to explain recovery arrangements when they appeared in the committee today.

In September 2018, the government amended the Penal Code to allow such agreements by allowing prosecutors to use them as an alternative to criminal proceedings "in their discretion to deal with certain economic crimes if they consider it to be in the public interest and appropriate according to the website of the Ministry of Justice.

If the accused party complies with the terms of the agreement, the charges may be suspended and criminal prosecution should be avoided.

Shawcross's teachings

According to the government's website, the goal is to condemn violations and take account of the organization, while reducing harm to innocent employees, shareholders and other third parties. The organization will have to take responsibility for the abuses and pay a financial penalty.

In the case of SNC-Lavalin, the Prosecutor's Office of Canada decided not to make a recovery agreement and instead to pursue prosecution. She notified the company of this decision on 4 September 2018.

Wilson-Raybould, as an attorney general at that time, had the right to set aside the decision and stop the pursuit. Wernick confirmed last week several meetings later, including a phone call on 19 December when he initiated when Wilson-Reybold was warned about the economic consequences of pursuing the company, which has about 9,000 employees.

He insisted that there had never been "inappropriate" intervention.

Under the so-called Shawcros doctrine, the Chief Prosecutor must consider the impact of prosecution on the public interest. The lawyer can consult with colleagues from the cabinet, but these discussions are limited to hearing advice without getting directions.

The Globe and Mail report of February 7 reported that the authorities forced Wilson-Reible to stop the charge against SNC-Lavalin on charges of fraud and corruption related to business relations with Libya.

The committee is expected to hear expert opinions on what constitutes proper advice and what constitutes undue or inappropriate pressure or direction.

The debate in favor of calling Trudo to the committee, the critic of conservative justice and Vice President Liza Wright said it was in the public interest to give testimony to the prime minister in order to gather the strands of information.

Wright also raised the question why SNC-Lavalin was notified of the prosecutor's decision on September 4, but the company did not disclose this information to its shareholders by October 10th.

"Who in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary, or even the Prime Minister gave assurances to SNC-Lavalin that they would not have to disclose an essential fact to their shareholders because they would arrange everything?" she asked.

Witnesses scheduled to appear in the Justice Committee starting at 15:30 ET:

  • Mary G. Condon, Temporary Dean of the Osgood Hall Law School.
  • Maxime St-Hilaire, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Sherbrooke University.
  • Wendy Berman, lawyer and partner, Cassels Brock and Blackwell.
  • Mary Ellen Trupel-Lafund, senior lawyer at Woodward, and LLP, and law professor at the University of British Columbia, Peter Alard.
  • Kenneth Jull, a lawyer and academician, Gardiner Roberts LLP.

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