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

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

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 doesn’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. 19 – Wernick warns Wilson-Raybould 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.

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.

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 rejects 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.

Oct. 21 – The Liberals are re-elected with a minority government following a campaign in which Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau had lost the “moral authority” to govern because of his actions in the SNC-Lavalin matter.

Dec. 15 – Former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Sami Bebawi is found guilty by a jury in Montreal of five charges, including fraud and corruption of foreign officials, in relation to actions taken to secure business for the company in Libya.

Dec. 18 – The case against the company is settled as SNC Construction, a division of SNC-Lavalin, pleads guilty in Montreal to one charge of fraud related to contracts in Libya and agrees to pay a $280-million penalty. Other charges, including those against the parent company, are stayed.

The Canadian Press

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