Liberals quash opposition effort to have ethics committee study SNC-Lavalin affair

The Liberal majority on a parliamentary committee has quashed an effort by opposition parties to further probe the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The House of Commons Ethics Committee, on which the governing Liberals hold the most seats, voted down a proposal to hear from federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion and other witnesses.

The Conservatives, supported by the NDP, had wanted Mr. Dion to explain findings from a report last week in which he said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had violated the federal conflict of interest law.PLAY VIDEO3:14Liberal members of a parliamentary committee have blocked an opposition attempt to hear from ethics commissioner Mario Dion about his scathing report into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.THE CANADIAN PRESS

The vote at the ethics committee on Wednesday was 5-4 against. Toronto Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith broke ranks to vote with the opposition, but only because he said he disagreed with key findings of the Dion report and wanted the Ethics Commissioner to “sit right there so he could answer questions about how he got this analysis so completely, completely wrong.”

Before the vote, the committee was told Mr. Dion was standing by ready to testify, by video link, if necessary.

In his report, the watchdog concluded that Mr. Trudeau improperly put pressure on Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was attorney-general to intervene in the criminal case regarding Montreal construction and engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. Mr. Dion said Mr. Trudeau used his authority to press her to overrule a decision by the independent Director of Public Prosecutions not to negotiate an out-of court settlement with SNC-Lavalin that would avoid a criminal trial on bribery and fraud charges.

Mr. Trudeau has said he disagrees with the commissioner’s conclusions and has refused to apologize for his actions.