Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has for the second time in four years been found guilty of violating the Conflict of Interest Act.
Mario Dion, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner released a report on his conduct regarding the SNC-Lavalin scandal on Aug. 14, and Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen said Canadians are taking notice.
“It’s a very serious ruling and a very serious situation that the country is in,” she said. “… it goes to the heart of our judicial system and our system of law and order and where our judges make decisions in countries like Canada, not politicians.”
What’s known as the SNC-Lavalin scandal began early in 2015 when RCMP laid fraud and corruption charges against the company, a Montreal based construction and engineering firm. A conviction would mean the company would be prevented from bidding on Canadian government business.
More than a year later the Liberals put forward a bill that included changes to the criminal code that would allow for what they called “remediation agreements”, which would allow corporations to avoid criminal proceedings by paying fines. Later in spring, SNC-Lavalin began work on such an agreement, even though it had yet to pass parliament.
Despite the new law, in early September 2018, the prosecution service told SNC-Lavalin they would not negotiate an agreement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould that same month. Wilson-Raybould could overrule the prosecution’s decision.
SNC-Lavalin met with more government officials but early in October, after the new Liberal policy of remediation agreements became official, the prosecution service confirmed in writing they would not take that tactic.
SNC-Lavalin continued to meet with government officials but Wilson-Raybould would not overrule them.
In January, she was shuffled from her post to Veterans Affairs, and in February the Globe and Mail broke the story that Trudeau’s aides attempted to pressure Wilson-Raybould.
The ethics commissioner began his investigation in early February and Wilson-Raybould told a story of being pressured by key Liberals over a four-month period.
The Aug. 14 report confirms the rules were broken, but no penalties will be assessed.
Bergen said this case is different than broken campaign promises.
“I think something like this where he promised, to be open and transparent and where he has been caught numerous times now literally lying to people, lying to Parliament, lying to Canadians, I think it just goes to an overall pattern that this guy cannot be trusted,” she said. “The prime minister used his office, his power to try to get favours for his friends. He then used that same power to punish and remove his critics.”
Bergen said these are very basic ideals.
“This is what we try to teach our kids, accept responsibility, tell the truth and do the right thing and we have a prime minister who didn’t do the right thing, is not accepting responsibility, he’s bullying and hurting people just because he has to the power to do so and then he’s lying about it,” she said.
While Bergen would like to see an RCMP investigation she said he may never face legal consequences. However, the federal election takes place Oct. 21 and Bergen said Canadians would make the decision on whether to continue trusting Trudeau.