By Agence France-Presse
Justin Trudeau’s main rival, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, said Thursday, if elected, he would launch a judicial inquiry into an alleged cover-up in a bribery case by the Canadian prime minister.
Canada’s independent ethics commissioner last month found Trudeau broke conflict-of-ethics rules by arm-twisting his attorney general to settle a criminal case against engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
The scandal, revealed earlier this year, tarnished Trudeau’s golden boy image, and cost two ministers and two senior officials their jobs, while plunging the Liberals into a dead heat with the Tories in polls ahead of the October 21 general election.
“At every turn Trudeau has stopped the truth from coming out and prevented Canadians from getting answers they deserve,” Scheer said at a campaign stop in Trudeau’s Montreal electoral district.
“He’s shut down three parliamentary investigations into the scandal. He refused to co-operate with the ethics commissioner’s investigation and he’s currently stonewalling the RCMP,” he said, referring to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“It’s a cover-up on a historic scale,” he said.
Scheer said he would also change the law to allow the RCMP to pierce cabinet confidentiality in order to interview potential witnesses.
Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, one of the world’s top engineering firms, was charged in 2015 with paying bribes to secure contracts in Libya.
Attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to ask prosecutors to settle the case, and a judge ruled in May that there was sufficient evidence to proceed to a trial.
But after resigning, she testified to lawmakers that she had experienced “consistent and sustained” political pressure to interfere in the case, including “veiled threats.”
In his report, Ethics Commissioner Marion Dion said Trudeau and his inner circle had tried to “circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit” the decision not to offer SNC-Lavalin an out-of-court settlement that would have resulted in a fine and agreeing to compliance measures.
Trudeau has acknowledged mistakes but has refused to apologize, citing the company’s claims that a conviction at trial would deprive it of lucrative government contracts resulting in up to 9,000 jobs lost.