Canada’s former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was involved in government discussions last fall about whether engineering firm SNC-Lavalin should be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution, and the talks were perfectly legal, government officials have told The Canadian Press.
The officials said the government would have been remiss not to deliberate over the fate of the Quebec giant, given that a prosecution could bankrupt the company, putting thousands of Canadians out of work.
They spoke on condition their names not be used. CBC News has not independently verified the claims.
Wilson-Raybould, currently minister of Veterans Affairs, said Friday she would not comment on claims that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to pressure her to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in pending legal action against the construction company.
“As the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter,” she said.
The lobbyist registry shows representatives of SNC-Lavalin logged more than 50 meetings with federal officials and parliamentarians on subjects that included “justice” and “law enforcement.”
The Conservatives and NDP are demanding investigations by a Commons committee and the federal ethics commissioner into allegations Wilson-Raybould was pressured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.
Tory Leader Andrew Scheer also suggested Friday morning that his party is looking at pursuing unspecified “legal avenues” if the governing Liberals “continue to cover this up.”
The government denies the allegations that surfaced Thursday in a Globe and Mail report, but Wilson-Raybould’s continued refusal to comment on the matter has added fuel to the political fire.
SNC has previously been charged with bribery and corruption over its efforts to secure government business in Libya.