Feb. 19, 2015: The RCMP lay fraud and corruption charges against engineering company SNC-Lavalin and two of its subsidiaries over dealings in Libya. The Mounties allege that between 2001 and 2011, SNC-Lavalin paid almost $47.7-million to public officials in Libya to influence government decisions. They also charge the company, its construction division and its subsidiary SNC-Lavalin International with defrauding various Libyan organizations of about $129.8-million.
May 8, 2015: SNC-Lavalin chief executive Robert Card says the company would like to arrange a deferred prosecution agreement with Ottawa to avoid a lengthy criminal trial.
2016-2017: The federal lobbyist registry shows SNC-Lavalin representatives registered more than 50 meetings with federal officials and parliamentarians in which the subjects discussed included “justice and law enforcement.”
Sept. 25, 2017: The federal government launches consultations that last almost eight weeks “to consider the possibility of introducing a Canadian deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) regime as an additional tool for prosecutors, to be used in appropriate circumstances, to address corporate crime.” Such deals suspend criminal prosecution if the accused agrees “to fulfill certain requirements including admitting to facts that would support a conviction, paying a significant financial penalty and co-operating with authorities, on completion of which, charges will be withdrawn.”
Feb. 22, 2018: The government publishes the results of the consultations, saying “the majority of participants supported having a Canadian deferred prosecution agreement regime, as they were of the view that DPAs could be a useful additional tool for prosecutors to use at their discretion in appropriate circumstances to address corporate criminal wrongdoing.” The government also says “it remains committed to hearing from interested parties” on the subject.
Feb. 27, 2018: Amendments to the Criminal Code to permit deferred prosecution agreements – now called “remediation agreements” by Ottawa – are announced in the 2018 budget. They are subsequently inserted into a massive omnibus budget bill, C-74.
May 8, 2018: Some MPs on the House of Commons’s finance committee voice concerns about the measure, including Liberal MP Greg Fergus. He worries the change appears to give those implicated in white-collar crimes “a little slap on the wrist." He says that while he read through most of the budget bill before the hearing, he hasn’t seen the deferred prosecution provision. “It seems we’re letting those with the means have an easier time of it than those who don’t have the means.”
June 21, 2018: Bill C-74, which includes deferred prosecution agreements, receives royal assent. The Criminal Code amendments are to take effect Sept. 21, 2018.
Sept. 4, 2018: SNC-Lavalin learns— more than a month before it becomes publicly known – that Kathleen Roussel, the director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), has rejected the company’s request to negotiate a deferred prosecution.
Sept. 17, 2018: Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould is called to a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick on the matter of an Indigenous-rights recognition framework. Mr. Trudeau discusses his concerns about the economic impact if SNC-Lavalin is convicted, and raises the option of a deferred prosecution. “She advised the Prime Minister of her view that a deferred prosecution agreement was not a good course and she had no intention of intervening,” Mr. Wernick would tell the House justice committee on Feb. 21. Ms. Wilson-Raybould asks if Mr. Trudeau is instructing her to overturn Ms. Roussel’s decision to prosecute, Mr. Wernick would recall, and the Prime Minister tells her she is the “decision-maker."
Sept. 18, 2018: SNC-Lavalin representatives meet Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his chief of staff, Ben Chin. Lobbying records show the subjects discussed include “justice and law enforcement.” SNC-Lavalin is looking for a way to avoid prosecution and warns Mr. Morneau that the Quebec company may have to move to the United Kingdom or could even face a takeover bid. Company representatives raise the possibility of seeking a judicial review of the decision, which the firm eventually launches. SNC-Lavalin representatives also meet with Mr. Wernick and Catrina Tapley, the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations). Lobbying records show the subjects discussed include “justice and law enforcement.”
Oct. 9, 2018: The PPSC writes to SNC-Lavalin’s lawyers to say Ms. Roussel “continues to be of the view that an invitation to negotiate a remediation agreement is not appropriate in this case.” They say they plan to proceed “with the prosecution of the case,” including a preliminary inquiry scheduled to begin at the end of October. The Prosecution Service also enumerates the various efforts by SNC-Lavalin lawyers to communicate with them, including letters dated Sept. 7 and Sept. 17, as well as an e-mail on Sept. 18 and documents sent on Sept. 27.
Oct. 10, 2018: SNC-Lavalin issues a statement saying it “has been advised by the Director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada [DPPSC] that at this time they will not invite SNC-Lavalin to negotiate a Remediation Agreement. SNC-Lavalin strongly disagrees with the DPPSC’s current position and remains open and committed to negotiating such an agreement.”
Oct. 19, 2018: SNC-Lavalin files an application for judicial review with the federal court of Ms. Roussel’s decision. They ask for the court to declare unlawful her decision not to invite SNC-Lavalin to enter negotiations on a deferred prosecution agreement, and to issue an order requiring such an invitation to be extended to the Montreal-based company.
Nov. 5, 2018: SNC-Lavalin meets with Mathieu Bouchard, Mr. Trudeau’s senior Quebec adviser and a lawyer. Lobbying records show the subject discussed is “justice and law enforcement.”
Nov. 19, 2018: Mr. Bouchard meets again with SNC-Lavalin. Lobbying records show the subject discussed is “justice and law enforcement.” SNC-Lavalin also meets with Mr. Chin. Lobbying records show the subject discussed is “justice and law enforcement.”
Dec. 5, 2018: Gerald Butts, the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, meets with Ms. Wilson-Raybould in the restaurant of the Château Laurier hotel in Ottawa. According to the PMO, Ms. Wilson-Raybould raises the deferred prosecution agreement with Mr. Butts, and he tells her to take it up with Mr. Wernick.
Dec. 18, 2018: Katie Telford, chief of staff to Mr. Trudeau, and Gerald Butts, the Prime Minister’s principal secretary, meet with Jessica Prince, the Attorney-General’s chief of staff, about a deferred prosecution agreement. Mr. Wernick has told MPs he believes Ms. Wilson-Raybould had concerns about this meeting but was unable to shed further light.
Dec. 19, 2018: Mr. Wernick calls Ms. Wilson-Raybould. The Privy Council Clerk recounted for the the justice committee he raised with her concern within and outside government about the potential job losses and the economic impact on SNC-Lavalin if the company was convicted. “I conveyed to her that a lot of her colleagues and the Prime Minister were quite anxious about what they were hearing and reading in the business press about the future of the company, the options that were being openly discussed in the business press about the company moving or closing,” Mr. Wernick said.
Early January: The Prime Minister begins discussions to replace Ms. Wilson-Raybould at the Department of Justice with Montreal MP David Lametti, whose riding is adjacent to the electoral district where SNC-Lavalin is headquartered, after learning that Treasury Board President Scott Brison plans to resign. Mr. Wernick would say he believes there were conversations between the Prime Minister and the minister on Jan. 6 and 7.
Jan. 14: Ms. Wilson-Raybould is demoted to Veterans Affairs and associate minister of national defence. She releases a lengthy statement listing her legislative accomplishments during her tenure at Justice. In an unusual move for a member of cabinet, she also underlines the need for independence in the portfolio. “It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence," she writes. “As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. This is how I served throughout my tenure in that role.”
Feb 7: The Globe and Mail reports that Mr. Trudeau or his staff pressed Ms. Wilson-Raybould to arrange a deal with SNC-Lavalin that would have let it avoid a criminal prosecution on allegations of corruption and bribery in its efforts to win government contracts in Libya.
Feb. 8: Mr. Trudeau says the Globe story is “false,” saying no one directed Ms. Wilson-Raybould to abandon the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The Globe had never reported that officials in Mr. Trudeau’s office directed Ms. Wilson-Raybould to take action – only that she was pressed to do so and declined.
Feb. 10: Recently appointed Justice Minister David Lametti tells CTV Question Period that he has not ruled out a deferred prosecution for SNC-Lavalin. He says it is still possible he could issue a directive to the prosecution service to settle the corruption charges out of court.
Feb. 11: The NDP reveal that federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has launched an investigation into the allegations that Mr. Trudeau and senior officials in the PMO and other government officials pressed Ms. Wilson-Raybould to abandon the fraud and corruption prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Feb 11: Mr. Trudeau visits Vancouver and meets twice with Ms. Wilson-Raybould. He points to her continued membership in his cabinet as an indicator to Canadians that she is not unhappy with his government. “Her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself,” he says. Several hours later, Ms. Wilson-Raybould informs the Prime Minister that she is resigning from cabinet but will remain as the Liberal MP for the riding of Vancouver Granville.
Feb. 12: In a letter published on her website, Ms. Wilson-Raybould announces her resignation, adding that she has hired former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell to guide her on what she is able to say about “matters that have been in the media over the last week.”
Feb. 18: Mr. Trudeau’s close friend and most trusted adviser, Mr. Butts, resigns as principal secretary. He says he is resigning to protect the PMO from charges of political influence in a criminal case. This “accusation," as he calls it, “should not take one moment away from the vital work of the Prime Minister and his office is doing all for Canadians.” Mr. Butts rejects any suggestion that he or anyone in the PMO put pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould.
Feb. 19: Ms. Wilson-Raybould asks to speak to her former colleagues in cabinet. She is made to wait two hours as cabinet debates whether to allow her into the cabinet room. When approval is granted, sources say she tells cabinet she believed it was improper for government officials to press her to help SNC-Lavalin out of its legal difficulties after a decision was already made by federal prosecutors not to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement.
Feb. 20: Ms. Wilson-Raybould attends Liberal caucus. She tells MPs that she is a committed Liberal and supports the party’s platform. She says she is unable to tell them what transpired because she is bound by solicitor-client privilege. Mr. Trudeau later tells reporters he apologized to Ms. Wilson-Raybould for taking almost a week to condemn the efforts of unnamed Liberals to undermine her character and reputation in anonymous comments published through various media outlets. “They were absolutely unacceptable and I should have done so sooner,” he says.
Feb. 20: The Liberals use their majority in the House of Commons to vote down an NDP motion calling for a judicial inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin matter. Two Liberal MPs, Nate Erskine-Smith and Wayne Long, vote in favour of the NDP motion. After Question Period, Ms. Wilson-Raybould rises in Parliament to say she was unable to vote on the judicial inquiry motion. “The reason for my abstention is that the matter in part has to do with me personally and I do not think that it is appropriate for me to vote on a matter that has to do with me personally,” she says. “I understand fully that Canadians want to know the truth and want transparency. Privilege and confidentiality are not mine to waive, and I hope that I have the opportunity to speak my truth.”
Feb. 21: Mr. Wernick tells the House justice committee that there were repeated efforts from the Prime Minister, himself and other senior PMO officials to press Ms. Wilson-Raybould to revisit the question of SNC-Lavalin’s pending criminal prosecution. The minister was warned about the economic impact of a conviction, but the country’s top civil servant says there was “no inappropriate pressure" applied to her. He concedes that Ms. Wilson-Raybould may have a different interpretation when she testifies before the committee next week. Mr. Wernick says he expects Ms. Wilson-Raybould will testify that she had concerns about three conversations last year among senior government officials, herself and her staff on the possibility of granting a deferred prosecution to SNC-Lavalin.
With files from The Canadian Press