Canada’s ethics commissioner ruled Wednesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke the Conflict of Interest Act when he used his influence on behalf of Quebec contractor SNC-Lavalin.
However, the ruling from Commissioner Mario Dion carries no legal punishment and Trudeau isn’t even offering an apology, Global News reported. He maintains that he was only trying to preserve Canadian jobs in the corporation by helping it avoid a criminal trial based on charges it had committed fraud and bribery.
“I can’t apologize for standing up for Canadian jobs,” he responded when asked about Dion’s report in a news conference Wednesday.
The political interference prompted pubic revelations from former Attorney General Jody Raybould-Wilson, who said she was being pressured by Trudeau to intervene on behalf of the contractor. She appeared before a Parliamentary justice committee after resigning from Trudeau’s cabinet.
Her departure inspired a second resignation when Treasury Board Secretary Jane Philpott said Canadians needed to know the “whole truth” about the SNC-Lavalin scandal. (RELATED: Trudeau Equates Procurement Of Prostitutes To Supporting ‘Canadian Workers)
Although Trudeau maintains that he accepts the report from the commissioner, he disagrees with the report’s primary finding — that he broke the Conflict of Interest Act by seeking to influence the justice minister on behalf of a private corporation. On Thursday, Trudeau was asked how he can claim to take responsibility for the SNC-Lavalin scandal and yet refuse to apologize for his actions.
“I was happy to take all the questions yesterday,” Trudeau said.
“I’m not going to apologize for standing up for Canadians jobs. That’s my job.”
When the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke, Trudeau attempted to justify his discussions with Raybould-Wilson by saying he believed the company would suffer serious economic dislocation from a criminal trial and would be forced to lay-off or fire thousands of workers. (RELATED: Trudeau Principal Secretary Gerald Butts Resigns In Wake Of Judicial Scandal)
But Dion said Trudeau’s claims of serving a public good were negated by seeking to safeguard the private interests of the company — and he had no business trying influence a judicial decision.
“The authority of the prime minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the director of public prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer,” he wrote in the report.
The report comes about two months prior to an October federal election that could see the Trudeau Liberals replaced by the Conservatives under leader Andrew Scheer. Scheer has renewed his call for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to begin an investigation into Trudeau’s actions on behalf of SNC-Lavalin.