Sat | Nov 27, 2021

More heat on Trudeau...former AG releases secret recording related to corruption scandal

Published:Saturday | March 30, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Justin Trudeau

Canada’s former Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould has released a secret recording and new documents related to the corruption scandal dogging the Justin Trudeau administration.

Wilson-Raybould released the materials to support her claim that government officials tried to persuade her to shield the Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin from criminal prosecution.

The company is facing allegations that former executives paid bribes to win contracts in Libya under Muammar Gaddafi, who was ousted in 2011.

The release of the materials is likely to increase pressure on Trudeau, the Prime Minister, who is facing a general election in October and has struggled for weeks to contain the fallout from the controversy.

The Liberal prime minister has been accused of pressuring Wilson-Raybould to push for a legal favour for SNC-Lavalin that would allow the firm to avoid prosecution and instead face alternative penalties such as a fine.

Trudeau has denied any wrongdoing by either himself or his staff.

Two senior ministers, including Wilson-Raybould, and a former top bureaucrat have resigned since the scandal unfolded.

The materials released by the former justice minister, which were initially given to a parliamentary committee, were released publicly yesterday.

Included among them is an audio recording, lasting nearly 18 minutes, of a December phone call between Wilson-Raybould and then Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick about the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

In the call, there is a lengthy back and forth between the pair, during which the senior public servant repeatedly notes that the prime minister is interested in having the firm avoid prosecution in favour of an agreement.

Trudeau and his officials have said they are concerned that thousands of jobs are at risk if the engineering firm is convicted.

In the recording, Wilson-Raybould pushes back, warning that she felt the conversation was inappropriate and that continued communications about the case could cross the lines of her prosecutorial independence as attorney general.

The former justice minister said she took the "extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step" of recording the call without Wernick's knowledge because she wanted a precise account of the conversation.

Wernick stepped down earlier this month.

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