Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday April 9, 2019
Trudeau threatens Scheer with lawsuit over SNC-Lavalin comments
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has received a lawsuit threat from the prime minister regarding comments he made about the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Scheer says he received a letter from Justin Trudeau’s lawyer on March 31.
The letter from Trudeau’s lawyer Julian Porter took issue with what they term inappropriate comments in a statement made by Scheer on March 29 in response to new documents tabled in the justice committee from former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.
“The statement contained highly defamatory comments about Prime Minister Trudeau,” it reads.
Trudeau has been under fire for the last two months over allegations that there was pressure on Wilson-Raybould to interfere in criminal proceedings against Quebec construction giant SNC-Lavalin. In an appearance before the House justice committee, she said top government officials asked her to help ensure a special legal deal was extended to the company.
She later provided emails, a written statement and a taped recording to the committee.
Scheer’s March 29 statement, in part, accused the prime minister of political interference, of lying to Canadians and of corrupt conduct.
Trudeau’s lawyer alleges Scheer made false statements, and refers to the Libel and Slander Act of Ontario, which deals with any publicly published material or comments that defame or disparage an individual or their profession.
“The prime minister supports wide-ranging and vigorous political debate on matters of public policy. However, your statement, in its entirety, is beyond the pale of fair debate and is libellous of my client personally and in the way of his occupation as prime minister,” Porter writes.
Scheer has retained legal counsel as well.
His lawyer Peter Downard responded to the letter on Sunday, calling the complaint “entirely without merit.”
“It is profoundly disappointing that the prime minister is seeking to silence debate on matters of such great public importance. Mr. Scheer will not be intimidated,” he wrote.
The rebuttal also dares the prime minister to proceed with the lawsuit — which Scheer reiterated in his Sunday afternoon news conference — saying the defence will call for evidence, for Trudeau to testify under oath and for members of his government also to testify.
“I will defend myself vigorously on this,” Scheer said. (Source: CBC News)