(Bloomberg) -- Canada’s ethics watchdog ruled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke the nation’s conflict of interest law by pressuring his former attorney general to help SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. settle corruption charges out of court.
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion determined that since the Montreal-based engineering firm would have benefited financially from Trudeau’s efforts to intervene in the case, his actions contravened the act.
“The actions that sought to further these interests were improper since the actions were contrary to the constitutional principles of prosecutorial independence and the rule of law,” Dion said in a report released Wednesday in Ottawa.
Trudeau has received the report and will hold a press conference later today, according to an email from his office.
The public reprimand is a blow to Trudeau just 10 weeks ahead of an October election, and will bring renewed focus to what has been the biggest scandal under Trudeau’s administration, one that centers around whether he and his staff pressured the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to intervene in a legal case involving SNC. The scandal had put Trudeau’s government on the ropes for most of the year, but the controversy quieted down over the summer, helping to lift the Liberal Party’s standings in the polls.
Dion said in his ruling he found Trudeau’s actions “troubling.”
“The authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer,” Dion said.
In a tweet, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheeradmonished Trudeau for being the first prime minister in history to be found guilty of breaking federal ethics laws.
It’s not the first time Trudeau has violated conflict of interest laws. In a separate 2017 decision, the ethics commissioner found Trudeau broke rules when he and his family vacationed on an island owned by the Aga Khan.
--With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.
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