Scheer calls on Trudeau to resign over SNC-Lavalin affair

Statement follows day of testimony from former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer holds a press conference in reaction to Jody Wilson-Raybould’s appearance at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on Justin Trudeau to resign Wednesday, saying former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s troubling testimony about SNC-Lavalin proved the prime minister has lost the moral authority to govern.

Scheer threw down the gauntlet immediately after a three-hour Commons’ justice committee meeting in which Wilson-Raybould said she felt pressure from Trudeau and others to head off a criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

“Justin Trudeau simply cannot continue to govern this country now that Canadians know what he has done,” Scheer said. “And that is why I am calling on Mr. Trudeau to do the right thing and to resign.”

But Trudeau quickly rebuffed Scheer’s demand as he touted his government’s record defending jobs and “the independence of our judiciary,” adding Canadians will decide later this year whether to re-elect the Liberals or hand power to the Conservatives.

The back-and-forth marked the latest escalation in what has already been the most explosive political challenge facing the Trudeau government during its more than three years in power. The Official Opposition very rarely calls on a prime minister to resign.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wilson-Raybould’s testimony underscored his party’s calls for an independent inquiry to find out the truth of what happened between the former attorney general and members of Trudeau’s inner circle.

During her testimony, Wilson-Raybould told the committee that she withstood four months of relentless pressure to reverse a decision not to make a plea-bargain-type deal with SNC-Lavalin. She said the pressure came from Trudeau and other senior Liberal officials.

Wilson-Raybould told the committee that she believed the pressure, which also included “veiled threats” from the country’s top civil servant, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, was inappropriate. But she added she did not think it was illegal.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould says she was pushed, got veiled threats on SNC-Lavalin

Scheer nonetheless demanded Trudeau’s resignation and called for the RCMP to launch a criminal investigation into what the Liberal government did to help SNC-Lavalin, which is facing criminal charges related to allegedly corrupt dealings in Libya.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould tells the story of a prime minister who has lost the moral authority to govern,” Scheer said.

“A prime minister who allows his partisan, political motivations to overrule his duty to uphold the rule of law. A prime minister who doesn’t know where the Liberal Party ends and where the government of Canada begins.”

The Conservative leader also called for Wernick to resign and encouraged the Liberal cabinet, which is scheduled to present a federal budget next month, to find a way to govern the country in a non-partisan way without the prime minister.

Scheer did not say what he would do if Trudeau refused to resign, such as calling a non-confidence vote.

For his part, Singh said Wilson-Raybould’s testimony painted a picture of a prime minister and other members of government who were willing to disregard the rule of law and were more interested in helping powerful friends than average Canadians.

While the NDP leader said Trudeau and others may eventually have to step down, he said that determination should come after a public inquiry is held to get the bottom of what really happened.

Trudeau, however, indicated during a Liberal party event in Montreal a short time later that he had no intention of resigning. He rejected Wilson-Raybould’s version of events, saying he and his staff “always acted appropriately and professionally.”

He said Canadians will have “a very clear choice in a few months” in the October election about who they want to form government.

“There will be a clear choice to be made between the Liberal Party, this government that … has consistently stood up for Canadian jobs, consistently defended Canadian jobs while defending our institutions and the independence of our judiciary,” he said.

“And on the other hand there is a choice of the party that is still very much the party of Stephen Harper. That continues to attack, to divide, to play politics with big issues and (thinks) the best way to create economic growth is still to give advantages to the wealthiest.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Alberni Valley Transition Town talks green planning

March 20 talk features Jack Anderson, speaking of innovative building techniques

Port Alberni’s firefighters learn to save themselves in ground survival training

Specialized training equipment brought in for Ground Survival Program

Port Alberni RCMP have their eyes on impaired drivers

March 17 to 23 is National Impaired Driving Prevention Week

Premier on hand as Paper Excellence finalizes Catalyst Paper purchase

Sale includes Crofton mill, plus mills in Port Alberni and Powell River

Three people deemed heroes after rescuing another in fiery crash on B.C. highway

Two people taken to hospital following head-on collision near Port Alberni

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Cougar on Island might have been shot with bow-and-arrow

Conservation officer service looking for animal near Port Alice

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Most Read