Justin Trudeau 'tried to block SNC-Lavalin corruption trial'

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MPs are holding an emergency debate Thursday night on allegations of political interference in the SNC-Lavalin case following yesterday's dramatic testimony from Jody Wilson-Raybould that raised new questions about the prime minister's role in the controversy.

Young Indigenous women on track to become the politicians, lawyers and leaders of tomorrow say Canada's former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould's thunderous testimony in Ottawa this week sets a precedent that empowers and fills them with pride. She said 11 people tried to interfere in her prosecutorial discretion including Trudeau.

"I never raised this issue with Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould", said Morneau, who also acknowledged that, as per her testimony, the former attorney general approached him about the issue on September 19.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wilson-Raybould's testimony underscored his party's calls for an independent inquiry to find out the truth of what happened between the former attorney general and members of Trudeau's inner circle. The ordeal dredges up ghosts of the party's past, which is marked by hand-in-glove ties with corporate Canada - particularly in Quebec.

The prime minister said that his government "always acted appropriately and professionally" on the SNC-Lavalin file.

The RCMP first laid corruption and fraud charges against SNC-Lavalin in February 2015 over allegations that it used bribery as it sought government business in Libya.

However in 2018 the federal government introduced legislation that would change the Criminal Code to permit "remediation agreements", a plea-bargain-like deal that would allow corporations to avoid a criminal trial by making reparations.

Morneau emphasized that the company employs 9,000 people across the country and thousands of pensioners depend on its continued operation.

Well, Wilson-Raybould presented evidence, and he, the PM, did not. She was unexpectedly moved to a less prominent job in January and resigned from Mr Trudeau's cabinet earlier this month.

"She approached me (in the House) to tell me that my staff was approaching her staff, which I think is entirely appropriate", he said, adding that he could not recall more details about that interaction in the House.

Her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, was eventually summoned to an urgent December 18 meeting with Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, and his then principal secretary, Butts. The Official Opposition very rarely calls on a prime minister to resign. Despite repeated assertions by Wilson-Raybould that she would not bend, she told a justice committee on Wednesday the pressure intensified - and included "veiled threats" by aides that she was on course for a clash with the prime minister.

After his former justice minister's testimony this week, Mr Trudeau gave a press conference and denied wrongdoing, saying he had been thinking about potential job losses. If Quebecers continue supporting Trudeau now, in spite of this attack on the independence of the justice system, "we are imbeciles".

"I hope that people realize just how serious this is". I told him that I had done my due diligence and made up my mind on SNC and that I was not going to interfere with the decision of the DPP.

She read a text-message conversation with her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, who was relaying a conversation with Butts and Telford.

Scheer said it was unacceptable that Wilson-Raybould had allegedly been relentlessly targeted by senior officials "with the sole objective of bullying her into bending the law to benefit a well-connected corporation". "And what the Trudeau government has lost, not its entire moral authority, but it's lost a significant amount of what we call moral capital", Black said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who is Trudeau's top rival, demanded the prime minister step down over the revelations.

Wilson-Raybould took notes, kept e-mails and text messages. She resigned from cabinet altogether a month later.

"She looks better than she's ever looked in terms of her integrity", he said of her testimony. Trudeau has echoed that.

Premier John Horgan says B.C. will continue to take bids from SNC-Lavalin despite the scandal surrounding the construction giant. "The decision around SNC-Lavalin was Ms. Wilson-Raybould's and hers alone".

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