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Canadian opposition parties seek to review report on Trudeau's violation of ethics law

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-08-16 07:53
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks about a watchdog's report that he breached ethics rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case regarding SNC-Lavalin, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, Aug 14, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA -- Canadian opposition Conservative Party called for an emergency meeting of the Canadian House of Commons Ethics Committee on Thursday to introduce a motion to get Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion to appear for his report on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's violation of the Conflict of Interest Act in SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal.

Dion's report, released Wednesday, found that Trudeau violated the act by attempting to interfere in the corruption case against the Quebec engineering giant.

"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," according to a letter by Conservative MPs Peter Kent and Jacques Gourde to MP Bob Zimmer who is the chair of that committee and has the authority to call committee meetings.

They asked Zimmer to invite Dion to testify on what they described as the "grave situation" outlined in his report on the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

"Not only is Mr Trudeau the first prime minister to have been found guilty of breaking the law, he is a repeat offender," said the letter, adding that "Canadians deserve fulsome answers to the many remaining questions."

Meanwhile, New Democratic Party MP Charlie Angus said on Twitter that he has also sent a letter calling for the emergency meeting.

In addition to Dion, he wants the committee to hear from the prime minister, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Trudeau's adviser Ben Chin.

Liberal Party MPs hold the majority of seats on the Ethics Committee, so it is unlikely the opposition motion would pass at the meeting.

Earlier this year, now former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould dropped a grenade on her own government when she revealed that the prime minister pressured her to intervene in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin last year and had the company offered a deferred prosecution agreement that would find SNC-Lavalin paying a fine rather than facing a trial. Wilson-Raybould refused, and lost her job as justice minister and attorney general not long afterward.

At a news conference following the release of the report, Trudeau said he took "full responsibility for everything that happened" but disagreed with the commissioner that "all contact" with Wilson-Raybould on the SNC file was improper, "especially when so many people's jobs were at stake," had the company been found guilty of the criminal charges and faced a potential 10-year ban on competing for Canadian government contracts.

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