RCMP says it faced no 'political pressure' over SNC-Lavalin scandal, not interviewing Trudeau

RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme told MPs they had 'limited' access to information on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The Privy Council Office (PCO) previously denied their request to access confidential cabinet documents.

RCMP says it faced no 'political pressure' over SNC-Lavalin scandal, not interviewing Trudeau
The Canadian Press / Tijana Martin
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RCMP top brass told a parliamentary committee they received no political pressure in their decision to not pursue criminal charges against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Five years ago, allegations of political interference emerged against the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for urging Wilson-Raybould not to investigate suspected fraud and corruption by Québec firm SNC-Lavalin.

The Montreal construction firm appeared to benefit from a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a criminal prosecution in 2019, as the RCMP only looked into alleged obstruction of justice by the PMO — not allegations of criminal intent.

According to testimony from top government officials, a Commons committee learned February 2 that the federal police service only interviewed four persons of interest, including then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

They did not attempt to get Trudeau’s testimony, reported The National Post, before concluding they had insufficient evidence to file criminal charges.

Bewildered Conservative MPs at the ethics committee contemplated why the RCMP did not inquire further.

"In my over 30 years of experience as a defence counsel and a Crown attorney, I have never heard of any investigation where there wasn’t any attempt — whether they agree to interview or not — to interview the person of interest," said Conservative MP Larry Brock.

According to Democracy Watch, the RCMP reached their conclusions courtesy of public claims by those involved in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. They did apply to obtain a search warrant to access confidential cabinet documents relevant to the case.

RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme and Sergeant Frédéric Pincince oversaw the investigation and could not testify last October after the Trudeau Liberals shut down debate at the last minute. However, they recently spoke before the ethics committee to explain their decision.

Duheme told MPs the RCMP had “limited” access to information but contends they “did everything we could.” The Privy Council Office (PCO) denied their request earlier to access confidential cabinet documents, according to Democracy Watch. 

“I’ll let individuals draw their own conclusion,” he said. 

Conservative MP Michael Cooper believes “the prime minister blocked the RCMP from conducting a full and complete investigation into his potential criminality.” 

“The evidence is clear … the prime minister covered up his obstruction of justice,” he said. “We’re going to keep demanding answers to get to the bottom of the prime minister’s obstruction.”

According to Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch, testimony from RCMP officials did not provide “good answers to key questions.” 

“Even though the RCMP committed to give more internal records to the committee, it is clear that a public inquiry must be established that has access to all internal RCMP and Cabinet documents in order to determine everything that happened, when it happened, and who was responsible in the Trudeau Cabinet and RCMP,” Conacher told the Hill Times in an emailed statement.

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