FLASH: There no money, no sex and nothing illegal happened, but is is a scandal in Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing a controversy that seems trivial, but it could topple him in elections later this year.
In Canada 2 high-profile women ministers in Mr. Trudeau’s Cabinet, including Canada’s 1st indigenous justice minister, resigned in protest, and his Top aide and best friend quit too.
The former Justice Minister and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, says Mr. Trudeau and senior members of his government pressured her in a case involving a major Canadian engineering company accused of corruption related to its business dealings in Libya.
Mr. Trudeau reportedly leaned on the AG to instruct prosecutors to reach the equivalent of plea deal, which would avoid a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, because he felt that jobs were at stake.
Many countries would be jealous of a scandal that went no further than a PM asking another Minister to do something she is legally entitled to do.
Mr. Trudeau has said he asked Wilson-Raybould to revisit her decision not to instruct prosecutors and said she agreed to consider that. He denied applying any inappropriate pressure, saying he and his officials were only pointing out that prosecution could endanger thousands of jobs.
SNC-Lavalin (OTCMKT:SNCAF) has pleaded not guilty to fraud and corruption charges related to allegations it paid about $35-M US in bribes to public officials in Libya between Ys 2001 and 2011.
Wilson-Raybould was demoted from her role as AG and Justice Minister in January as part of a Cabinet shuffle by Mr. Trudeau. She has testified that she believes she lost the justice job because she did not give in to “sustained” pressure to instruct the director of public prosecutions to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
That solution would have avoided a potential criminal conviction that would bar the company from receiving any federal government business for 10 years. The company is a major employer in Quebec, Mr. Trudeau’s home province. It has about 9,000 employees in Canada and more than 50,000 worldwide.
The company publicly led the lobbying charge for a law that allows for deferred prosecution agreements as a way to resolve the criminal charges it faces. The new AG has not ruled out approving a settlement.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould has said herself that the pressure from Mr. Trudeau and others was not illegal and that she was not explicitly instructed to do a remediation agreement.
Gerald Butts, Mr. Trudeau’s former principal secretary and best friend who resigned too, said nothing inappropriate was alleged until after Ms. Wilson-Raybould left the Cabinet, suggesting she felt sour grapes about losing her dream job.
Conservative Andrew Scheer leader has demanded that Mr. Trudeau resign, saying he tried to interfere in a criminal prosecution. Canadian media have covered the story as intensely as American networks have covered President Trump.
And Mr. Trudeau government is now in a very fragile state, elections are in October.
Have a terrific week
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