The Liberal government surprised many by abruptly shutting down a parliamentary committee that was set to hear from top RCMP officials regarding their decision not to pursue a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s involvement in the SNC-Lavalin affair. The committee, originally focused on studying TikTok, had switched gears to examine the RCMP’s handling of the case. Liberal MP Mona Fortier raised objections, citing the lack of notice given to committee members about the change in agenda. She moved a motion to adjourn the meeting, resulting in a heated exchange of words between government and opposition MPs.
Conservative MP Michael Barrett expressed his disappointment with the shutdown, stating that it was unacceptable to prevent a hearing on such a serious matter involving the prime minister. The situation left many questioning the government’s handling of the case.
The SNC-Lavalin affair arose in 2018 when the Montreal construction firm lobbied the federal government to avoid a criminal prosecution in a fraud and corruption case. The firm argued that the prosecution would have severe economic consequences for Quebec. Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould stood firm in her decision not to intervene in the case, despite attempts from the Prime Minister’s Office to persuade her otherwise. This eventually led to Wilson-Raybould being replaced and Trudeau found to have contravened the Conflict of Interest Act.
The RCMP’s decision not to pursue a criminal investigation has faced criticism. Documents released by Democracy Watch revealed that the RCMP relied heavily on public claims made by those involved in the affair, conducting limited interviews and not seeking search warrants or access to confidential documents. While the RCMP concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support further investigation or prosecution, a report by Sergeant Frédéric Pincince stated that this did not mean the absence of a criminal offense.
The sudden halt to the committee’s proceedings has raised concerns about transparency and accountability within the government. It remains to be seen how this decision will impact public trust and the ongoing scrutiny surrounding the SNC-Lavalin affair.