Canada's No-Sex, No-Money Scandal Could Topple Trudeau

Monday, 11 Mar, 2019

In this March 8, 2019, file photo, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen through a beveled pane of glass in a door as he takes part in a news conference in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.

The Canadian Prime Minister is unexpectedly caught up in a major corruption scandal that stained his carefully crafted "good boy" image and might topple his premiership.

Trudeau's Liberal government has been on the defensive for a month over allegations by former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould that officials inappropriately pressured her a year ago to help construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a corruption trial in connection with almost $48 million in payments made to Libyan government officials.

Caesar-Chavannes told the Globe and Mail that Trudeau was angry when she told him on February 12 of her plans to announce she was not running in the October federal election.

Mr Trudeau has insisted there was never any inappropriate pressure placed on Ms Wilson-Raybould and said the final decision to drop the trial and instead subject the company to a so-called deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) was hers alone. The high-profile loss of so many skilled jobs might have turned the province towards the Conservatives, or so some are speculating, which might be why Trudeau's team allegedly and unethically interfered in this case.

Scheer said Liberal MPs on the committee need to support Wilson-Raybould coming back to shed additional light on the scandal, suggesting if they do not, it would suggest the prime minister "has something to hide".

The former justice minister has alleged she was improperly pressured to stop the criminal prosecution and was punished for refusing by being moved to the veterans affairs portfolio.

In a ruling, Justice Catherine Kane said the company's application for a review of the prosecutors' decision "had no reasonable prospect of success".

In its submission last October to the Federal Court, the company said while the public prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to open negotiations on a remediation agreement, this discretion "is not unfettered and must be exercised reasonably" under the law.

His mistake was thinking his attorney-general - the nation's top law officer - could resolve his political problem.

Mr Trudeau's former chief aide Gerald Butts denied that in testimony to a parliamentary committee yesterday. "Ultimately, I believe our government will be stronger for having dealt with these issues", he said.

Throughout the news conference, he affirmed much of Wilson-Raybould's account but cast his involvement as a pure-minded effort to protect pensioners and jobs.

Political analysts say Trudeau is safe for now, since he has made clear he wants to stay on and there are no challengers inside the party.

Justin Trudeau rose to power in Canada as a champion of feminism and indigenous rights, quickly earning him golden boy status at home and overseas as a progressive leader.

"Expect us to make correct decisions, stand for what is right and exit when values are compromised", she also tweeted. The federal election is in October. "I've been called a bitch too many times myself", she added. If she is allowed to remain in caucus and run as a Liberal, she may be shunned by his loyal MPs, who resent her maverick remarks.

Trudeau said he tried to foster an environment where his lawmakers can come to him with concerns, but one of his female Liberal party colleagues, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, took issue with that, tweeting, "I did come to you recently".