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Canada Quebec government doesn’t rule out buying SNC-Lavalin shares, Legault says

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks with the media during a news conference in Gatineau, Que., on Jan. 30, 2019.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government isn’t ruling out buying shares in SNC-Lavalin in order to prevent the company from being sold or dismantled.

Legault said Friday that all options are currently on the table when it comes to saving the troubled Montreal-based engineering giant and the thousands of jobs it provides.

The province’s pension fund manager already has a stake of about 20 per cent in the company, but not enough to form a blocking minority.

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SNC-Lavalin is currently facing fraud charges stemming from alleged dealings with the Libyan regime under Moammar Gadhafi between 2001 and 2011. A conviction would mean a 10-year ban from bidding on federal contracts, which could cripple the company.

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould quit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet last month, testifying later that he and his staff inappropriately pressured her to negotiate a remediation agreement that would allow the company to avoid criminal charges by admitting responsibility and paying a fine.

Legault told reporters in Bromont, Que., that he has spoken with Trudeau on the need to find a way to save SNC-Lavalin and the jobs it creates.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s justice minister said Friday that she’d refused a request to meet the engineering firm last fall to discuss a remediation agreement because she hadn’t believed it would be pertinent.

Sonia LeBel did not rule out meeting with the company or the federal government to discuss the matter in the future, but she doesn’t see the need right now. “I don’t know. It will depend. I never rule anything out,” she told reporters in Trois-Rivieres, Que.

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