Report indicates prime minister violated ethics law to further corporate, partisan interests

OTTAWA – “As residents of Canada, we expect the government to work with all of us, and our interests, not just the rich, powerful corporations. Our federal government should be above this; and the government can’t be above the law,” stated Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing to the report by Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion last week that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke the law to further the interests of SNC-Lavalin and the Liberal Party, according to a press release from the NDP.

“First of all, it is important to note that it was the NDP that had actually sent in a request to the commissioner to look into this,” Ms. Hughes told the Recorder. “Certainly, the results of the report are not favourable to the prime minister,” she said, noting, “it is ironic that on one side of the coin he expects the report to be released in its entirety and says he takes responsibility; but he doesn’t support its conclusions.”

“Over and over the prime minister’s office continues to allow itself to be influenced by rich, powerful corporations,” said Ms. Hughes, pointing out SNC Lavalin still has contracts with the government, which poses “quite a problem.”

“Of the five conflict of interest complaints that have been filed on the Liberal party thus far, in three cases the Liberal party has been found to be in conflict and in two cases it involves the Prime Minister himself being in conflict,” continued Ms. Hughes. 

“It is absolutely outrageous that Prime Minister Trudeau violated the trust of Canadians to further the interest of his corporate friends. This report proves that the Liberal government has put the wealthy and the well-connected above the law-and the Prime Minister himself is directly responsible,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, according to a release from the party.

Mr. Singh pointed out that Commissioner Dion was clear that SNC-Lavalin “overwhelmingly stood to benefit from Ms. (Jody) Wilson-Raybould’s intervention,” and that he has “no doubt that the result of Mr. Trudeau’s influence would have furthered SNC-Lavalin’s interests.” He concluded that Prime Minister Trudeau’s actions were against the constitutional principles of prosecutorial independence and the rules of law.

“Justin Trudeau is not who he pretends to be,” said NDP MPP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay). “Behind closed doors, we now have proof that this prime minister went so far as to break the law to cut backroom deals for his corporate friends and to benefit his political party. It’s absolutely unacceptable that the prime minister has been twice found in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act, a first.”
Ms. Hughes noted that “except for the opportunity of Mr. Dion to indicate in his report that Mr. Trudeau was in conflict of interest, there is no enforcement procedures in place the commissioner can use. There are currently no repercussions for this. There should be. This is a damning report against the prime minister.”

Ms. Hughes added that the whole situation, “is very unfortunate. It seems nothing can be done with a government or the prime minister even if a breach of conflict and interest has occurred.”