The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–Andrew Scheer is challenging Justin Trudeau to follow through on a threat to sue him over his assertion that the prime minister politically interfered with the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavlin.
The Conservative leader revealed yesterday that he received a letter on March 31 from Trudeau’s lawyer, Julian Porter, threatening a libel suit.
“I stand by every single criticism I have made of Mr. Trudeau’s conduct in regards to this scandal, including those Mr. Trudeau’s lawyer cites in his letter,” Scheer told a news conference.
“If Mr. Trudeau intends to pursue this course of legal action, if he believes he has a case against me, I urge him to do so immediately. This is an urgent matter of public interest and it deserves to be heard in a legal setting where Liberals do not control the proceedings.”
Scheer said he looks forward to Trudeau testifying “for hours” under oath in open court.
That said, Scheer made it clear he believes Trudeau is bluffing.
He called the threatened lawsuit “a bullying attempt” to prevent the official Opposition from doing its constitutional duty to hold the government to account and a continuation of Trudeau’s attempts to “silence those who stand up to Justin Trudeau and who seek the truth”–just as he tried to silence former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, Scheer said.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said Scheer and his party “have repeatedly made false and defamatory statements. We put him on notice that there are consequences for making completely false and libellous statements.”
Wilson-Raybould maintains she was inappropriately pressured last fall by the Prime Minister’s Office to stop criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya. She believes she was moved to Veterans Affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to override the director of public prosecutions, who had decided not to negotiate a remediation agreement, a type of plea bargain, with the company. She resigned from cabinet a month later.
Last week, Trudeau expelled both Wilson-Raybould and fellow former cabinet minister Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus. Philpott had resigned from cabinet in early March, citing a loss of confidence in the government.