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‘Reminiscent of Bill Clinton’: Peter MacKay offers take on allegation against Trudeau

Peter MacKay. — File photo
Peter MacKay. — File photo
NEW GLASGOW, N.S. —

Justin Trudeau’s response to questions about whether or not he or anyone in his office tried to influence former attorney general to abandon prosecution against SNC-Lavalin, reminds Peter MacKay of another politician – Bill Clinton.      

“I thought the words of the prime minister were very lawyer like,” MacKay said in an interview with The News on Friday, Feb. 8. “It was almost reminiscent of Bill Clinton.” 

The fact that the current Justice Minister used almost identical words in the House of Commons, makes it sound like the prime minister and the minister have been advised by a lawyer on how to respond, MacKay said. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has maintained that the allegations which were first reported in the Globe and Mail’s story are false. 

"Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me, or by anyone in my office, to take a decision in this matter,” he told reporters. 

MacKay was home in Nova Scotia Friday to speak at the PC AGM. He served as MP for Central Nova from 1997 until 2015 and was Justice Minister under Stephen Harper from 2013-2015. 

Looking at the Criminal Codes definition of obstruction, he said, it does not have to be direct influence. 

"These are very serious allegations on a number of levels," he said, adding that it has the potential to lead to police involvement. 

With the potential for an inquiry into the matter, he said this is a topic that won’t be going away any time soon. 

Whether it’s true or not, he said it has the potential to create the optics, real or perceived, that there was political interference at the highest level to influence a case of significance. This is particularly damaging he said considering the situation with the extradition of Chinese national Meng Wanzhou, CFO of telecom giant Huawei. 

China already has doubts about Canada having an independent justice system, he said, and this only feeds those doubts.  

“It sends a signal in our own country about some of the fundamental foundations of the rule of law being shaky." 

MacKay said this isn’t the first time he believes Trudeau has shown disregard for the justice system. During a town hall, Trudeau once told the audience how his brother had once been charged with marijuana possession and said his father had to make some phone call to make it “go away.” Another example, said MacKay, is the way Trudeau responded after Gerald Stanley was acquitted of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, which the Tories described as political interference.   

With the next federal election approaching on Oct. 31, MacKay said this has the potential to cause political problems for the Liberals. 

“I think the lights will be burning late in the PMO as they try to communicate their way out of this.” 

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