A timeline of key events in the SNC-Lavalin political controversy


OTTAWA — A chronology of key developments in the SNC-Lavalin controversy, according to public documents, reports and testimony to the House of Commons justice committee:

Feb. 19, 2015 – The RCMP lays corruption and fraud charges against Montreal-based engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin over business dealings in Libya. SNC-Lavalin says the charges are without merit.

March 27, 2018 – The Liberals table a budget bill allowing for “remediation agreements,” plea-bargain-like deals for corporations to avoid criminal proceedings by making reparations for bad behaviour. SNC-Lavalin lobbied for such a provision in Canadian law.

Sept. 4 – The Public Prosecution Service rejects SNC-Lavalin’s request to negotiate a remediation agreement. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is informed of the decision.

Sept. 5 – Justice Department deputy minister Nathalie Drouin speaks with Wilson-Raybould about the decision and agrees to provide the minister with advice on the powers of the attorney general around remediation agreements.

Sept. 12 – Finance Department officials tell Drouin that SNC-Lavalin is in discussions with the prosecution service about a remediation deal, suggesting to Drouin the decision not to pursue a deal isn’t set in stone.

Sept. 17 – Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould discuss SNC-Lavalin. Wilson-Raybould says Trudeau asks her to “find a solution” for SNC-Lavalin to avoid job losses, talks about the Quebec election and notes he is a Quebec MP. She said she asked him if he was interfering politically in her role as attorney-general and he said no.

Trudeau later says mentioning he was a Quebec MP was not in a partisan context, adding it is up to MPs to advocate for their constituents, and that concern for job losses in Quebec and elsewhere were top of his mind. He says he asked Wilson-Raybould to reconsider her decision and she agreed.

Sept. 27 – SNC-Lavalin provides the prosecution service with a presentation detailing a possible plan to split the company in two, move its offices to the U.S. and eliminate its Canadian workforce if it didn’t get a deal to avoid criminal prosecution.

Oct. 9 – The prosecution service confirms it will not negotiate an agreement with SNC-Lavalin. The company challenges the decision in Federal Court.

Oct. 15 – Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick takes a call from Kevin Lynch, the chairman of the board of SNC-Lavalin and a former clerk of the Privy Council. Lynch asks about a remediation agreement and what can be done. He tells Lynch the decision is up to Wilson-Raybould.

The president of the company sends Trudeau a letter outlining SNC-Lavalin’s concerns about the implications of a conviction and asks for a meeting.

Dec. 5 – Wilson-Raybould and Gerry Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary, meet for dinner at the Chateau Laurier. SNC-Lavalin is discussed, but the two later give differing accounts of the tone of the conversation.

Dec. 18 – Wilson-Raybould’s chief of staff Jessica Prince meets with Butts and Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff. Afterwards, Prince texts Wilson-Raybould, citing Butts as saying, “there is no solution here that does not involve some interference” after being told what is being proposed is political interference in a prosecution. She cites Telford as saying “we don’t want to debate legalities anymore.”

Butts later tells the justice committee that he didn’t — or wouldn’t — have used the word “solution” and denies anything nefarious in his comments. The point of the meeting, and anything said, was about getting a second opinion from someone like a former Supreme Court justice because the law had never been applied in Canada before.

Dec. 19 – Wernick warns her she is on a collision course with Trudeau, who wants to get a deal done. Wilson-Raybould tells Wernick that if she intervened, it would be viewed as political interference and she wants to protect Trudeau from such a perception.

Jan. 6, 2019 – Trudeau talks with Jane Philpott about becoming Treasury Board president and having her help convince Wilson-Raybould to take over Indigenous Services. Trudeau later says Philpott asks him if the move is related to SNC-Lavalin, which he denies.

Jan. 7 – Trudeau tells Wilson-Raybould she is being shuffled out of the justice portfolio. Wilson-Raybould says the PMO denies the move is over the SNC-Lavalin file. Butts testified Wilson-Raybould refused Indigenous services, citing her opposition to the Indian Act.

Jan. 14 – Trudeau shuffles his cabinet. David Lametti, a Montreal MP and former law professor, becomes justice minister. Wilson-Raybould becomes veterans-affairs minister.

Feb. 7 – Citing unnamed sources, the Globe and Mail newspaper reports that Trudeau’s aides pressed Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case. Trudeau calls the allegations false.

Feb. 11 – Trudeau says Wilson-Raybould’s continued presence in cabinet speaks for itself and that he told her any decision on SNC-Lavalin was hers alone. Meanwhile, ethics commissioner Mario Dion launches an investigation.

Feb. 12 – Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet. Trudeau says she had a duty to tell him about any undue pressure applied to her in her role as attorney general.

The same day, Oshawa, Ont., Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes tells Trudeau she won’t seek re-election. Trudeau’s office later says it was an “emotional” conversation; Caesar-Chavannes claims he yelled at her through the phone.

Feb. 15 – Trudeau says Wilson-Raybould asked him in September whether he would direct her on SNC-Lavalin. He says he told her he would not.

Feb. 18 – Butts resigns. He denies any impropriety, but says his presence in the PMO has become a distraction.

Feb. 19 – Wilson-Raybould addresses a cabinet meeting but cabinet confidentiality means nothing can be revealed about what was said or why.

Feb. 21 – Appearing before the justice committee, Wernick calls allegations of political interference false and even defamatory and says none of his conversations crossed any lines.

Feb. 25 – Trudeau partly waives solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality so Wilson-Raybould can speak publicly, but not about communication with Kathleen Roussel, the director of public prosecutions.

Feb. 27 – Wilson-Raybould tells the justice committee she came under “consistent and sustained” pressure — including veiled threats — from the PMO, the Privy Council Office and Morneau’s office to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau rejects her characterization of events. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer calls on Trudeau to resign. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for a public inquiry.

March 4 – Philpott quits cabinet, saying she has lost confidence in how the government has dealt with the ongoing affair.

March 6 – Butts tells the justice committee that Wilson-Raybould never complained about improper pressure to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin until Trudeau decided to move her out of her coveted cabinet role. Wernick disputes parts of her testimony as well. Drouin provides more details about the timeline.

March 7 – Trudeau holds a press conference where he says he should have been aware that trust had eroded between his office and Wilson-Raybould, but denies anything inappropriate took place. He talks about learning from the events; he does not apologize.

March 8 – The Federal Court strikes down SNC-Lavalin’s request for judicial review of the prosecution service’s decision not to negotiate a remediation agreement.

March 15 – Wilson-Raybould tells her Vancouver constituents she intends to run for re-election as a Liberal.

March 18 – Trudeau appoints former leadership rival Joyce Murray to replace Philpott as Treasury Board president. Hours after being at the swearing-in ceremony, Wernick announces he will step down before the fall election, having concluded he has lost the trust of opposition parties.

March 26 – The Liberal-dominated ethics committee votes down an opposition motion to begin another probe of Wilson-Raybould’s allegations. Wilson-Raybould provides the justice committee with her written evidence.

March 29 – The justice committee releases Wilson-Raybould’s written evidence and a 17-minute recording of her Dec. 19 conversation with Wernick. Earlier in the day, Trudeau announces Wernick will leave on April 19.

April 2 – Trudeau removes Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from the Liberal caucus and as party candidates in the 2019 election.

July 20 – Media reports begin to emerge saying Butts is back in the Liberal fold and will play a central role in the party’s re-election campaign.

Aug. 14 – The federal ethics watchdog says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.


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