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

PHOTOS: Mission dancers shine at annual show

Can Dance Studio celebrated its 30th anniversary with the “United We Dance” end of season showcase

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

PHOTOS: Dads, car enthusiasts flock to annual show

Mission’s Old Car Sunday in the Park takes place every year on Father’s Day, thousands come out

Parents of Mission murder victim want personal belongings returned

Lisa Dudley’s parents, Rosemarie and Mark Surakka, were at the Mission RCMP detachment Sunday

COLUMN: Llamas, goats and snakes, oh my!

Making friends on the Ryder Lake Ramble not a walk in the park

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Dinosaur statues from defunct Dinotown theme park stolen in Chilliwack

The dinosaur figures once graced the theme park but were destined for Chilliwack fundraiser

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Langley’s oldest and last strip bar shuts its doors

The Alder Inn, in operation since 1957, has reportedly been purchased

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Most Read