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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed calls from the opposition to resign late on Wednesday after his former justice minister told parliament that officials in his inner circle had pressured her not to prosecute a Montreal-based engineering giant accused of fraud.

"I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin," ex-minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons.

Wilson-Raybould added that she received "veiled threats" from Michael Wernick, Canada's top bureaucrat, that "a collision with the prime minister on these matters should be avoided."

Trudeau responded that he "completely disagrees with the former attorney general's characterization of events."

Firm bribed Gaddafi government

The scandal has rocked the Trudeau administration as the Liberal party leader prepares to run for re-election in October. It centers around allegations that SNC-Lavalin bribed officials in the Libyan government under strongman Muammar Gaddafi between 2001 and 2011.

The company was formally charged with corruption in 2015, with prosecutors saying that it had paid Gaddafi's regime 130 million Canadian dollars (US$98 million) for lucrative government contracts, including the Great Man-Made River Project, the biggest irrigation project in history.

SNC-Lavalin heavily lobbied the government to settle the corruption case out of court. The firm has repeatedly claimed that anyone responsible for the wrongdoing has since left the company.

'Serious red flags'

Wilson-Raybould testified that "the prime minister asked me to help out, to find a solution for SNC, citing that if there is no DPA (deferred prosecution agreement), there would be many jobs lost and that SNC would move from Montreal."

She said 11 other top officials, including Finance Minister Bill Morneau, raised concerns that the firm would move to London if it did not face favorable legal conditions in Canada.

They "urged me to take partisan political considerations into account, which was clearly improper," she said, adding that while "not illegal," it had "raised serious red flags."

Wilson-Raybould resigned in January, along with Trudeau's longtime ally and principal secretary Gerry Butts, who has been vague about his reasons for leaving the government.

Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer said that the prime minister should step down over the scandal, claiming Trudeau "can no longer and in good standing with a clear conscience lead this nation." He also called for a federal investigation into the possibility that government officials obstructed justice.

Trudeau disputed the nature of the discussions in a news conference, saying that "our government will always focus on jobs," and that his administration was merely debating the impact the case could have on the company's Montreal workforce.
While I don't think Trudeau will resign, it's nothing short of satisfactory to see this clown's public image torn to pieces. I never liked Trudeau and it's great to see him exposed for what he always has been: a fraud, a liar and a corrupt politician who abused his position to favour himself and his cronies.

Good riddance.
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