• By: Dan Donovan

Democracy Watch calls for Ottawa Police to investigate Trudeau and cabinet officials

Democracy Watch says the RCMP lacks independence from cabinet and impartiality and competence to investigate obstruction of SNC-Lavalin prosecution. 

Democracy Watch says that recently disclosed documents about RCMP Commissioner’s relationship with the PM and its investigation into Trudeau’s Aga Khan trip gift raise fundamental questions about the RCMP’s impartiality and competence of the federal police force. Duff Conacher, the co-founder of Democracy Watch, has released a letter sent to the Ottawa Police Service calling on them to investigate the allegation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Finance Minister Bill Morneau, some members of their staff, and former Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick obstructed justice by pressuring then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, and committed a breach of trust in doing so.

Democracy Watch is asking the Ottawa police to step in because recent disclosures concerning the investigation of the mass shooting situation in Nova Scotia have raised serious questions about whether the RCMP is subject to political pressure from the federal cabinet. As well, recent disclosures concerning the investigation into the trip gift given by the Aga Khan to Prime Minister Trudeau and his family show that the RCMP did not do a full investigation of that situation, neglecting to ask the Prime Minister key questions and to disclose key evidence.

The RCMP and crown prosecutors have not provided any information or statements since August 2019 about the investigation into the SNC-Lavalin situation. Democracy Watch sent a letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki requesting an update in February 2021 and again in June 2022, as the public has a right to know the findings and the basis of any decisions concerning prosecutions.

“Given that three years have passed since the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling on wrongdoing by Prime Minister Trudeau and other government officials pressuring the Attorney General to stop prosecuting SNC-Lavalin, and given the RCMP is refusing to give an update on its investigation, and recent disclosures have raised serious questions concerning the RCMP’s independence from the federal cabinet, and competence, Democracy Watch is requesting that the Ottawa police take over the investigation into the SNC-Lavalin situation,” said Conacher.

“It seems that the RCMP and federal prosecutors are waiting for a third federal election to pass and doing what often happens in Canada when powerful politicians and government officials are involved in alleged illegal activities – delaying with the hope that they can eventually bury the results of the investigation,” said Conacher. “Hopefully, the Ottawa Police will do their job properly and investigate the alleged wrongdoing quickly, given most of the key facts are well known, and issue a public statement on prosecution decisions when their investigation is concluded, as the public has a right to know.”

Democracy Watch says that given there are no past court rulings on a comparable situation in Canada, prosecutors should let the courts decide whether the lines in the Criminal Code were crossed, and for the following reasons:

Obstruction of justice is a serious criminal offence, as is a breach of trust.

Obstruction of justice is even more serious when committed behind closed doors by government politicians and officials, as it is then also an act of government corruption.

As summarized in the letter, all of the elements needed to prove obstruction of justice (subsection 139(2) of the Criminal Code) are present in the actions of the prime minister and others as they pressured the attorney general multiple times to stop the prosecution.

Also, as set out in the letter, all of the elements needed to prove a breach of trust (subsection 122 of the Code) are present in the situation.

Concerning intent, federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion concluded in 284 of his August 2019 ruling that “Mr. Trudeau knowingly sought to influence Ms. Wilson-Raybould both directly and through the actions of his agents.”