The Prime Minister is going to find himself in hot water leading up to the October election. In a report released on Wednesday, Aug. 14, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with regard to the SNC-Lavalin scandal, violated the Conflict of Interest Act.
According to the report, Trudeau tried to encourage former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to reach a deferred prosecution agreement with Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. This was in direct contrast to the Prime Minister’s earlier submitted report, in which he wrote, "that he did not use his position as a public office holder to seek to influence the Attorney General's decision about the prosecution of SNC‑Lavalin, and especially not to improperly further the private interests of SNC-Lavalin."
Dion determined that Trudeau had breached Section 9 of the federal Conflict of Interest Act, specifically. This section is in place to prevent high-ranking government officials with decision-making power from influencing decisions that will "improperly further another person's private interests."
Dion writes, "The evidence showed that SNC-Lavalin had significant financial interests in deferring prosecution. These interests would likely have been furthered had Mr. Trudeau successfully influenced the Attorney General to intervene in the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision."
Trudeau had previously stated that he would not apologize for how he handled the SNC-Lavalin affair, and that he believed that he did not do anything wrong.
The report notes that "simply seeking to influence the decision of another person is insufficient for there to be a contravention of section 9." This led to the second step of the investigation to determine whether or not Trudeau, through his actions or his staff, tried to further the interests of SNC-Lavalin.
Due to the evidence, Dion "found that Mr. Trudeau used his position of authority over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould to seek to influence, both directly and indirectly, her decision on whether she should overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to invite SNC-Lavalin to enter into negotiations towards a remediation agreement."
Whether or not this will have an impact on the upcoming election in October remains to be seen. As of Aug. 12, the Liberal party is polling at 32.8 percent, just one point behind the Conservatives, according to the CBC poll tracker.
However, a March 2019 Nanos survey indicated that 26 percent of Canadians had indicated that the SNC-Lavalin scandal would affect the way they voted.