Report of Mounties Investigating Trudeau on SNC-Lavalin Affair Had Ministers, RCMP Scrambling

Report of Mounties Investigating Trudeau on SNC-Lavalin Affair Had Ministers, RCMP Scrambling
Then-minister of public safety Marco Mendicino speaks to media before a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 6, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Noé Chartier
A media report last June saying the prime minister was being investigated by the Mounties for his role in the SNC-Lavalin affair drew a flurry of communications between ministers’ offices who sought to coordinate messaging with the RCMP.
An RCMP account of the coordination obtained by The Epoch Times was published in an Inquiry of Ministry tabled by the government on Sept. 18, in response to questions from Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer who asked for the RCMP’s response to the news and whether the force had received pressure from the government.

The RCMP responded it is “accountable to the Minister from an administrative perspective, but is operationally independent,” adding that it is not under the influence or direction of elected officials “when fulfilling its core law enforcement functions.”

“Keeping the Minister informed through timely and accurate information sharing on activities is standard procedure, while ensuring the principles of police independence are maintained,” said the RCMP.

A timeline of exchanges with political offices provided by the RCMP shows that the office of then-public safety minister Marco Mendicino sought to know which reporters were inquiring about the issue with the federal police force.

“Minister's Office requested list of reporters asking the RCMP about an investigation,” says the RCMP in a table indicating the time and nature of exchanges on June 19.

The request was sent at 4:55 p.m. and was fulfilled by the RCMP 25 minutes later: “List of reporters and outlets provided,” the force wrote.

“Minister’s Office asked about distribution of RCMP messages,” said the RCMP about an email sent at 5:01 p.m.

“The Minister’s Office asked if we had reached out to the journalist who first wrote on this issue,” it added.

The RCMP noted having responded to the minister’s office question about the journalist but didn’t say whether it had followed up with him.

On June 19, watchdog group Democracy Watch made public a letter from the RCMP’s Access to Information and Privacy Branch indicating that the involvement of senior Trudeau government figures in the SNC-Lavalin affair was “currently under investigation.” Accompanying the letter was a mostly redacted 96-page document released under the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) regime, the group said.
Soon after, the RCMP clarified that an investigation was not ongoing but that it had conducted an assessment of the information and found “insufficient evidence to substantiate a criminal offence.”
The Ethics Commissioner found Mr. Trudeau guilty in 2019 of contravening section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act for using his position of authority over then-justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Then-commissioner Mario Dion said Mr. Trudeau sought to “influence" Ms. Wilson-Raybould's decision "on whether she should overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to invite SNC-Lavalin to enter into negotiations towards a remediation agreement.” The engineering firm had been charged in 2015 with criminal offences.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was expelled from the Liberal caucus in 2019. SNC-Lavalin, now rebranded AtkinsRéalis, agreed to pay a $280 million penalty after pleading guilty to a fraud charge in 2019.


Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, says he is not surprised to see cabinet and the RCMP closely coordinating on the matter.

“It's not surprising that the minister contacted the RCMP about the situation given the RCMP had issued a public letter that contained the false claim that its investigation of the SNC-Lavalin and Prime Minister Trudeau scandal was ongoing when, in fact, the investigation had wrapped up four months earlier,” he said.

“It doesn't seem that the minister's office was directing the RCMP to say specific things about the situation as ministers have in other past situations,” added Mr. Conacher.

The management of public communications between cabinet and the RCMP was controversial in the context of the 2020 mass shooting in Portapique, Nova Scotia, with pressure being applied on the RCMP H Division to release the makes of firearms used by the suspect.
The Epoch Times contacted the office of Public Safety (PS) Minister Dominic Leblanc and PS media relations for comment but didn’t hear back by publication time.

Rationale of Redaction’

Democracy Watch’s information and the related media reporting generated several exchanges between Public Safety Canada and the RCMP.

Mr. Mendicino’s office sent an email to RCMP Corporate Communications at 11:16 a.m. on June 19. A summary of the email says the “Minister's Office requested a quick call as she had questions about a sensitive ATIP.”

Two minutes later, the minister’s office was in a phone conversation with the RCMP asking to know the “rationale of redaction” and whether there was an unredacted version, presumably of the ATIP.

The office of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic Leblanc then got involved, “seeking to speak to the Deputy before Question Period regarding a media story about an RCMP investigation that was ATIP’d.”

The English version of the Inquiry of Ministry doesn’t specify who the “Deputy” is, but the French version says it’s the “sous-commissaire” or deputy commissioner, presumably of the RCMP.

In the afternoon of June 19, Mr. Mendicino’s office asked the RCMP whether it was aware of the “Democracy Watch statement on [t]he SNC Lavalin investigation.” The RCMP said it informed the minister’s office of its messaging on the issue. Shortly after, the office asked about the RCMP’s social media posting.

The RCMP told The Epoch Times in a statement that such coordination is standard procedure. Information sharing “ensures we are not duplicating effort as journalists often pose the same questions to our portfolio partners and to the Minister’s office,” said spokesperson Sgt. Kim Chamberland.