OTTAWA — Ethics commissioner Mario Dion pulled no punches in a damning report launched Wednesday following an investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair, by far his highest-profile endeavor since his appointment in January 2018.
Dion’s nomination by the Liberal authorities acquired a blended response from opposition events, and the longtime public servant made headlines when he wouldn’t instantly decide to pursuing ongoing investigations into the prime minister and the finance minister. He later stunned opposition events when he cleared Finance Minister Invoice Morneau final June of conflict-of-interest allegations concerning pension laws he launched whereas holding shares in Morneau Shepell, a pension administration agency.
But when critics of the federal government had any issues that Dion would go too straightforward on the Liberals in his function as ethics watchdog, his report on the SNC-Lavalin scandal should certainly have put them to mattress. Within the report, Dion concluded that Trudeau used his authority to “circumvent, undermine and in the end discredit” the choice of the director of public prosecutions to not supply a remediation settlement to SNC-Lavalin, which might have allowed the Montreal engineering big to keep away from felony prosecution. He confirmed former legal professional basic Jody Wilson-Raybould’s allegations that she was inappropriately pressured by the prime minister and different senior officers to overrule the general public prosecutor’s choice, and that she was improperly requested to contemplate partisan political pursuits.
“I discover all of those techniques troubling,” he wrote. “The proof abundantly reveals that Mr. Trudeau knowingly sought to affect Ms. Wilson-Raybould each immediately and thru the actions of his brokers.”
I discover all of those techniques troubling
Dion, a Montreal native and a retired lawyer, was named federal ethics commissioner on Jan. 9, 2018, following a virtually 40-year profession with the federal authorities. He has labored for Corrections Canada, the justice division and the Privy Council Workplace, and in 2003 was appointed deputy minister of Indian Residential Colleges Decision of Canada, which labored to resolve abuse claims filed by former college students.
Dion got here out of retirement to function the commissioner of public sector integrity from 2011 to 2014, a place supposed to research wrongdoing within the federal authorities and to guard whistleblowers. However he got here underneath hearth when the auditor basic accused his workplace of “gross mismanagement” of two separate case information in 2014.
He was appointed chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2015, earlier than changing Mary Dawson as ethics commissioner three years later.
Dion’s nomination by the Liberal authorities in December 2017 riled the opposition events, who claimed the method had been secretive and befell on the final minute. “It’s simply ragingly incompetent and irritating and cynical,” former NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen mentioned on the time. Cullen additionally raised issues about Dion’s efficiency as public service integrity commissioner. “Are you powerful, are you truthful, are you a canine with a bone?” he requested. “Would you describe your self as any individual who pursues it to the tip to be sure that it occurs? As a result of that’s the arrogance that we want.”
On the time, Dion wouldn’t decide to pursuing ongoing ethics investigations into the prime minister’s go to to the Aga Khan’s non-public island and into Morneau’s involvement in a pension reform invoice, which additionally raised some issues. In the end, Dawson accomplished the Aga Khan investigation earlier than leaving the workplace — she discovered, for the primary time, that Trudeau had damaged conflict-of-interest guidelines — and Dion did pursue the Morneau investigation, however ultimately cleared him.
Final fall, in a separate investigation, Dion discovered that former fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc was in a battle of curiosity when he awarded a profitable fishing licence to an organization with hyperlinks to a member of the family. The licence was ultimately cancelled.
Regardless of the Liberals’ confidence that the ethics commissioner would clear them of wrongdoing within the SNC-Lavalin affair, Dion has now firmly concluded that Trudeau has violated Canada’s conflict-of-interest regulation for a second time.
Although there aren’t any sanctions connected to his discovering, Dion has beforehand expressed curiosity in contemplating penalties for ethics violations, which might require a change to the federal laws. “It’s not a futile query in my opinion,” Dion advised the Globe and Mail in January 2018, shortly after his appointment. “It must be thought-about.”
He additionally advised the newspaper that his new function would require him to be “fearless.”