House ethics committee to discuss Trudeau SNC-Lavalin report
Published Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:44PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 15, 2019 4:56PM EDT
OTTAWA – On the request of opposition MPs, there will be an urgent meeting of the House of Commons ethics committee next Wednesday according to the Conservatives, to discuss the findings of Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion's report that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contravened the Conflict of Interest Act in relation to the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
The opposition wants to hear from Dion about his damning investigation that found Trudeau sought to influence Jody Wilson-Raybould in "many ways,” after months of government officials and the prime minister denying that was the case. Wednesday’s meeting will be to simply discuss the prospect of having Dion appear.
Dion found that Trudeau contravened section nine of the act, which states that public office holders are prohibited from using their position to seek to influence a decision that furthers the interest of a private third party.
The commissioner found that Trudeau acted improperly when using his position of authority over Wilson-Raybould, the then-justice minister and attorney general, in an effort to have her overrule the director of public prosecution’s decision not to negotiate a deal with Quebec construction giant SNC-Lavalin that would see the company avoid a criminal prosecution over charges of corruption and fraud stemming from an RCMP investigation.
The opposition parties, with eyes on the quickly approaching fall federal election, are once again looking to revive the parliamentary drama that was the epicenter for many of the key revelations in the scandal over the months that it dominated headlines.
In a letter to Conservative chair of the committee, Bob Zimmer sent on Thursday, his caucus colleague Peter Kent said Dion’s report was “incredibly concerning,” and asked that a meeting be “urgently” be called to receive a briefing from Dion, as well as any other witnesses that are required, based on his testimony.
As well, NDP MP Charlie Angus sent his own letter to Zimmer on Wednesday, requesting a meeting, saying that the committee should also consider inviting Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the clerk of the privy council, and other senior staff to testify.
A Conservative source speaking on background said that a special summer meeting of the House Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics would be “in-line with precedent of the last report into Trudeau's ethics violations.”
When Trudeau was first found to have broken the federal ethics act when he vacationed at the Aga Khan's private island in 2017, Dion’s predecessor Mary Dawson testified before the committee. Though, her appearance came two days after her term ended as Canada’s ethics commissioner.
It remains to be seen whether the Liberal majority on the committee will be open to hearing from Dion, and whether Dion would be willing to speak about the report, but with just weeks before the start of the election campaign, the opposition seem poised to keep pushing the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
On CTV News Channel, pollster Nik Nanos said that the months-long scandal hurt both the Liberals and Trudeau’s brand in the polls, seeing them drop below the Conservatives.
“They've only been able to recover in the last couple of weeks, and then go-figure, we get the bombshell report from the ethics commissioner yesterday, which for all intents and purposes is another punch in the gut for Justin Trudeau politically, and for the Liberals,” Nanos said.
“This is like an open wound, every time it's touched, the numbers will probably jump… down for the for the Liberals.”