FALL RIVER: For Liberal MP Darrell Samson, it’s time for people to move on from Ethics Commissioner’s Mario Dion Report on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the SNC Lavalin affair.
Samson was responding to a question from The Laker on his reaction to the report, released Aug. 15, He was speaking alongside Mary Ng, who looks after files as the Small Business and Export Promotion Minister during a stop in Fall River.
“When the Ethics Commissioner is saying all contact is out of bounds, I do not agree with that,” said Samson, who represents Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook. “As an MP, a Cabinet Minister, it doesn’t matter. We have the responsibility of representing our people and I have and will continue to speak on behalf of my constituents to Cabinet Ministers and to the Prime Minister about what’s some of the needs and challenges are in my riding.”
In Dion’s report, it says Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act through his attempts to influence then-attorney general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on the SNC-Lavalin file.
The commissioner found—directly or through others under his direction—Trudeau sought to pressure Wilson-Raybould to grant SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement. That would have allowed the Quebec engineering firm to avoid a trial on corruption and fraud charges.
Samson said a review by former Justice Minister Anne McLellan has some things he would like to explore further.
“There are some great things in her review such as having the departments name changed from the Justice Department to the Department of Justice and Office of the Attorney General; saying we need some education for Cabinet Ministers; staffers; and Parliamentarians about the role of the attorney general and related issues be implemented.
“Let’s not forget being a Cabinet Minister is political. Being the AG is not.”
Samson said keeping the focus on the report, which the Prime Minister has taken responsibility for while not accepting all of the conclusions, is distracting from the work the government has to continue to do in running the country.
“We do need to move because right now Canadians have a choice to make, and that choice is very important,” Samson said. “That choice is which direction do they want Canada to go.”
Ng said she has no problem keeping her support with PM Trudeau.
“The PM has said that he accepts the report, but he doesn’t agree with some elements of it but he stands behind the decision he made,” said Ng. “We’re going to take a serious look at McLellan’s review so we can understand those recommendations and make improvements as they need to be made.
“I absolutely stand with the Prime Minister.”