Ethics Commissioner agrees with Democracy Watch in ruling that Trudeau violated federal ethics law
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Today, Justin Trudeau became the first-ever sitting Prime Minister to be found in violation of ethics law.
Political watchdog, Democracy Watch, applauds the part of the ruling that states PM Trudeau violated section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly trying to influence the Attorney General to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
The ruling agreed completely with the points argued in the complaint Democracy Watch filed on February 8, 2019, which can be seen here.
Democracy Watch filed a follow-up complaint on March 5, 2019 about other PMO officials, Cabinet ministers and their staff also pressuring the Attorney General. That complaint can be found here.
Unfortunately, in paragraphs 262-281 of his ruling (pages 41-44), the Ethics Commissioner summarizes the actions of PMO officials, Cabinet ministers and their staff that put pressure on the Attorney General. However, in paragraphs 282-286, the Ethics Commissioner excuses the actions of everyone except Prime Minister Trudeau on the very questionable basis that the other officials "could not have influenced the Attorney General" and were acting "under the direction or authority of the Prime Minister…"
Attempting to influence the Attorney General violates Rule 9, and these officials attempted to influence the Attorney General — it is irrelevant whether they had the same power over the PM as the PM has. For this reason, Democracy Watch is considering challenging the part of the Ethics Commissioner's ruling that actions of other Trudeau PMO and Cabinet ministers and staff not covered by the ethics law as they were directed by Trudeau
"The Ethics Commissioner made the right ruling by finding Prime Minister Trudeau guilty of violating the ethics law for pressuring the Attorney General to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, but he should have also found other PMO and government officials guilty because they also pressured the Attorney General,"said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. "Democracy Watch is considering challenging in court the part of the Ethics Commissioner's ruling that lets the other PMO and government officials off the hook given they, like the Prime Minister, clearly violated the federal ethics law."
Given the evidence in the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling, Democracy Watch also called on the RCMP to issue a full, public explanation before the election if they decide not to prosecute the PM for obstruction of justice.