Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Monday April 8, 2019 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Libs say lawsuit threat needed to stop Scheer’s ‘misinformation’ on SNC-Lavalin

Scheer revealed he received a letter from Trudeau’s lawyer serving notice of a possible libel suit

Liberals are defending Justin Trudeau’s threatened libel suit against Andrew Scheer, arguing that the Conservative leader’s editing or deleting online statements proves he knows he’s gone too far in criticizing the prime minister’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

“The leader of the Opposition pretends that he will not back down and he tries to make a show out of it,” Government House leader Bardish Chagger told the House of Commons on Monday. “We know that is false because while he is saying that, he has already been editing online statements or erasing them entirely.”

Scheer revealed Sunday that he’d received a letter from Trudeau’s lawyer, Julian Porter, serving notice of a possible libel suit over a statement issued on March 29, in which the Conservative leader accused Trudeau of leading a campaign to politically interfere with the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and directing his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to break the law.

The notice is not an actual lawsuit, just a threat that one might come — a standard first step in a defamation claim. In the Commons on Monday, Scheer repeatedly taunted the Liberals to bring it on.

READ MORE: Scheer urges PM to follow through on libel threat over SNC, testify in court

“Canadians are looking forward to the prime minister finally appearing under oath and testifying in a setting that he, himself, cannot control,” Scheer said, repeatedly asking the government to set a date for legal proceedings to begin.

Scheer denied having edited or deleted any posts on Twitter.

“No, I have not deleted tweets because I stand by everything I said in those statements,” he said.

But Chagger pointed to a tweet Scheer posted on March 31, the same day he received Porter’s letter. Originally, it referred to Trudeau telling “lies” about not knowing about a conversation the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, had with Wilson-Raybould on Dec. 19. The tweet was later deleted and a new one posted, she said, to replace the word “lies” with “falsehoods.”

Wilson-Raybould surreptitiously recorded that conversation with Wernick to bolster her contention that the top public servant had issued “veiled threats” that her job as justice minister and attorney general was at risk if she didn’t agree to intervene to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya. Wernick’s lawyer said the clerk never relayed that conversation to Trudeau because everyone went on holiday the next day. When they returned in the new year, the lawyer said, they got consumed with planning a cabinet shuffle, in which Wilson-Raybould was moved to Veterans Affairs.

Chagger pointed to another tweet Scheer posted on Feb. 11, in which he asserted there is “potentially criminality at play in the Prime Minister’s Office.” That tweet was deleted, she said.

And she brought up a tweet Scheer deleted back in December after Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains served notice of a potential libel suit over the Conservative leader’s assertion that the minister was under RCMP investigation related to a land deal in Brampton.

“It is important that Canadians always know that we will not stand idly by while the Conservatives intentionally mislead Canadians,” Chagger said, adding that the Conservatives and their leader “have a history of making untrue and defamatory statements just for political gains.”

Scheer spokesman Brock Harrison said tweets such as the ones Chagger referred to ”are deleted and reposted for a number of reasons, usually to correct typos or to better align the language between English and French.”

“However, contrary to what Ms. Chagger implied in question period, Mr. Trudeau’s threatened lawsuit has nothing to do with these tweets or any other tweets,” Harrison said.

In 2008, then Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper launched a libel suit against the Liberal party over allegations that he had known about an alleged attempt by Conservatives to bribe independent MP Chuck Cadman in exchange for his support in a key confidence vote in 2005.

The lawsuit made it difficult for then Liberal leader Stephane Dion to raise the issue during the 2008 election campaign. A few months after the election, which returned Harper’s Conservatives to power with a minority in Parliament, Harper settled the matter out of court with Dion’s successor, Michael Ignatieff.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Active life is family affair for Castlegar mom-and-daughter athletes

Two generations taking part in 55+ Senior’s Games

People’s Party candidate in South Okanagan-West Kootenay steps forward

Taylor talks about PPC platforms on economics, immigration and climate change

South Okanagan-West Kootenay candidates ready for federal election campaign

Here are the candidates running in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, expert says

20 day search for missing Labradoodle in Princeton, B.C. ends with tears of joy

The search brought out bloodhounds, and groups hoping to find Mordy

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

Most Read