Liberals block hearings into scathing ethics report on SNC-Lavalin affair
A lone Liberal outlier wanted Dion to explain what he considered the commissioner's “legally flawed'' conclusion that Trudeau broke the Conflict of Interest Act
OTTAWA – Liberal members of a parliamentary committee have blocked an opposition attempt to hear from ethics commissioner Mario Dion about his scathing report into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Only one of six Liberal MPs on the 10-member House of Commons ethics committee supported a Conservative motion Wednesday to call Dion, and possibly others, to testify about the report.
The lone Liberal outlier, Toronto MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, supported the motion only because he said he wanted Dion to explain what he considered the commissioner’s “legally flawed” conclusion that Trudeau broke the Conflict of Interest Act.
Quebec MP Steven MacKinnon spoke for the other Liberal members, dismissing the motion as a blatantly partisan attempt to re-ignite public outrage over the SNC-Lavalin controversy on the eve an election call.
All six Liberal members voted against a subsequent NDP motion to call Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his former chief of staff, Ben Chin, to testify about their roles in the affair.
Dion concluded in his report last week that Trudeau broke the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to halt a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Dion also disclosed in his report that he couldn’t get all the information he required, as potential witnesses and Trudeau’s office claimed cabinet confidence stopped from them from sharing everything they knew.
Trudeau has accepted the report and taken full responsibility for mistakes that were made, but he has also disagreed with Dion’s conclusion and resolutely refused to apologize for what he characterizes as standing up for Canadian jobs.
Conservatives and New Democrats pushed for the emergency committee meeting held Wednesday afternoon on Parliament Hill. Dion had said he would make himself available to testify, and would have done so by video conference.
On Wednesday morning, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that if the study failed to go ahead, he hoped to convince voters to hold Trudeau accountable on voting day this October.
“We cannot have a lawmaker who is a lawbreaker,” he said.
Trudeau has suggested voters want to move on.