The Ethics Commissioner’s report into the SNC-Lavalin affair will not be finished before Parliament rises in June but could come out on the eve of the federal election, according to an updated timeline provided by the office.
The office is working on the SNC-Lavalin probe and three other active investigations, MPs were told this week.
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion launched the review in February, shortly after The Globe and Mail reported that Jody Wilson-Raybould – when she was justice minister and attorney-general – resisted pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to shelve court proceedings against SNC-Lavalin in favour of a negotiated settlement without trial.
The revelations led to committee hearings in which Ms. Wilson-Raybould confirmed she felt pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his staff. The former minister described a series of meetings in detail and released an audio recording of a private phone call she had with Michael Wernick, who was clerk of the Privy Council at the time.
Mr. Trudeau’s former principal adviser, Gerald Butts, who resigned in February, has maintained the PMO’s actions were appropriate and the discussions with the former minister were part of the normal debates that take place inside government.
Mr. Dion told the House of Commons ethics committee on Thursday his report on the matter will not be complete by the time the House of Commons rises in mid-June. The House is not expected to sit again until after the federal election.
The commissioner said his office is still conducting interviews.
“The focus is on the Prime Minister, but indeed … there are several other public office holders who are being interviewed, or will be interviewed, to essentially review the facts that were largely reported in the public domain,” Mr. Dion said. “Mostly political aides who allegedly also played a role, have been, or will be interviewed soon.”
Conservative MP Peter Kent asked Mr. Dion whether the report will be finished before the next election, which is scheduled for Oct. 21.
“We are working hard to produce a report within the next few months,” Mr. Dion replied.
Former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson ruled in 2017 that Mr. Trudeau had violated the Conflict of Interest Act in 2016, when he and his family accepted the use of the Aga Khan’s private island. In that report, Ms. Dawson noted that she had faced delays in scheduling an interview with the Prime Minister.
Mr. Dion said he has faced no such challenges in this investigation.
“I think it’s fair to say that we are very pleased with both the speed with which – and the extent of – the co-operation at this point in time,” he said.
The commissioner’s office is also working on a report into the activities of Brampton East MP Raj Grewal, who resigned from the Liberal caucus in December in connection to what the PMO described as gambling problems.
Earlier in 2018, opposition MPs had asked the commissioner to review Mr. Grewal’s decision to invite a business colleague with him as part of the Prime Minister’s delegation for his problem-plagued visit to India.
The third investigation is into whether Ottawa West-Nepean Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld violated ethics rules by recording a message in support of her husband, who was a candidate in a 2018 municipal election.
The topic of the fourth investigation has never been made public, Mr. Dion said.
“But the report will be issued in a couple of weeks, so you’ll find out two weeks from now,” he said.