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Former Ontario Attorney General says allegations against Trudeau must be investigated further

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Jody Wilson Raybould				
			Adrian Wyld  THE CANADIAN PRESS

The company, based in Canada's Quebec province, was charged with corruption and fraud in connection with payments of almost 36 million USA dollars in bribes to public officials in the former Libyan government of late leader Muammar Gaddafi and defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated 98 million dollars between 2001 and 2011.

Then-Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould in April 2017.

Asked directly about the case, Trudeau said: "The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false".

Canada's current Minister of Justice is David Lametti, he was appointed to cabinet in January in a shuffle that saw Wilson-Raybould moved into the Veterans' Affairs portfolio, which was viewed by some as a demotion.

While SNC-Lavalin has the right to be assumed innocent and to a fair trial, it has "no right or entitlement" under common or criminal law to be invited to negotiate a remediation agreement, the director said. They are also owed more answers than the Prime Minister has so far offered.

Wilson-Raybould has repeatedly declined comment.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation, " he said in a telephone interview from Burnaby, where he is campaigning for a seat in the House of Commons in a February 25 byelection.

"Mr. Speaker, at no point has the current minister of justice or the former minister of justice been directed or pressured by the prime minister or the Prime Minister's Office to make any decision on this or any other matter", Virani said.

As attorney general, Wilson-Raybould could have become involved in the case against the company by directing federal prosecutors to negotiate a "remediation agreement", a way of undoing damage without admitting the company itself was at fault for things particular employees did. The Ethics Commissioner should also investigate if Justin Trudeau was one of the recipients of the illegal donations.

"If he truly wants to clear this up and believes there's been no wrongdoing, he should welcome an investigation from the ethics commissioner".

"All we've heard are allegations in a newspaper", said Lametti about the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The federal director of public prosecutions is officially asking a court to toss out a plea from SNC-Lavalin to spare the company from criminal proceedings.

On Friday, she released a short statement saying she was "bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter", though some lawyers were quick to argue that the prime minister could easily waive that privilege if he wanted Wilson-Raybould to speak openly.

"Messing with the administration of justice is not just bad politics". Scheer called for committee hearings into allegations of political influence into SNC-Lavalin's criminal case.

"Canadians deserve a government that is on their side, not on the side of a massive multinational corporation with deep ties to the Liberal Party", said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

The Conflict of Interest Act prohibits a member of the government from giving "preferential treatment to any person or organization based on the identity of the person or organization".

In its October 19 submission to the Federal Court, SNC-Lavalin said while the public prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to open negotiations on a remediation agreement, this discretion "is not unfettered and must be exercised reasonably" under the law.

However, the fact that such directives must be done publicly would seem to constrain a justice minister from doing anything overtly political.

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