Scheer kicks off election campaign accusing Trudeau of lies, cover-up over SNC-Lavalin scandal

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer kicked off the federal election campaign today by accusing Justin Trudeau of lying to Canadians over the SNC-Lavalin scandal and arguing the prime minister has lost the moral authority to govern.

Scheer was responding to a report in The Globe and Mail late Tuesday, just hours before Trudeau was set to arrive at Rideau Hall and officially launch the federal election. The Globe’s story says that the RCMP’s probe into potential obstruction of justice in the SNC-Lavalin affair has been hampered because the federal government won’t lift cabinet confidentiality for all witnesses.

The article also included an interview with former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, who suggested cabinet confidence is exerted too liberally.

“In my experience, particularly, cabinet privilege is overasserted and I guess more widely applied than it deserved,” he told The Globe.

Scheer, who moved up his media availability by a few hours to respond to the report, called on Trudeau to issue a waiver to allow the RCMP to get full answers from witnesses. He rejected a claim that Trudeau had nothing to do with the decision to withhold a waiver.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the SNC-Lavalin affairs shows Canadians “just cannot trust Justin Trudeau,” while answering questions before the Trudeau called the federal election Wednesday. 0:41

“We know that the power to waive cabinet confidence and the power to waive privilege rests with the prime minister. That is clear. It’s within his power to do so,” Scheer said. “He should do it immediately, he should do it today.”

A Liberal campaign spokesperson said that as of today, the RCMP still has not contacted any current or former PMO staff for documents or interviews related to the SNC Lavalin affair.

Trudeau has arrived at Rideau Hall and is expected to take questions from reporters shortly.

Last month, former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was at the centre of the SNC-Lavalin affair, told CBC News that she had been contacted by the RCMP.

She declined to provide any details of that discussion.

Scheer said the latest developments prove Trudeau has not been up-front with Canadians and has lost the moral authority to govern.

“What today shows is that you just cannot trust Justin Trudeau,” he said. “He will say anything to cover up his scandals and he’ll say anything to get re-elected, and Canadians cannot believe the things he says.”