Construction company SNC-Lavalin was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with fraud offences that allegedly took place between 2001 and 2011, relating to the bribing of Libyan officials. The company has denied the allegations.
Former Canadian justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Trudeau of attempting to persuade her that a SNC-Lavalin trial would have a harmful impact on the Liberal party and Canadian jobs.
The emergence of this scandal caused the resignation of two of Trudeau’s top personal aide, two cabinet ministers and the head of the federal bureaucracy – and also put his ‘progressive’ credentials under question.
Trudeau has said he did not instruct his staff to interfere, but did not deny talking about the case with his cabinet ministers. The prime minister argued he was not trying to improperly pressure the attorney general but wanted to advocate for financial penalties rather than a 10-year ban on bidding for federal contracts which was one of the possible punishments if SNC-Lavalin was found guilty. Trudeau said this route to protect jobs that might be lost if the company was blocked from federal contracts.
In August, Canada’s federal ethics commissioner found that Trudeau violated ethics law with his handling of the corruption inquiry. Although the report did not carry any legal implications for Trudeau, he may end up paying at the ballot box.
Trudeau said at the time of the report that he disagreed with some of the report’s findings that he acted improperly and that he would not apologise for trying to stand up for Canadian jobs.