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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake businesses satisfied working in town, survey

The Chamber surveyed 100 local businesses and found 82 per cent are satisfied working in Sylvan Lake

UPDATE: Sylvan Lake RCMP on scene at serious, multi vehicle collision

There is no access westbound on Aspelund Road from the intersection.

Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce urges for end to rail blockades

Chamber President Keri Pratt urged the MP Blaine Calkins to help bring an end to the disruptions

Sylvan Lakers take a frozen dip for a cause

The annual Polar Bear Dip held during Winterfest is a fundraiser for organizations around town

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Two goals by Ben King pushes Rebels over Tri-city

7-5 game a high-scoring, runaway according to Rebels forward Chris Douglas

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Alberta doctors getting ready for court fight against new pay, benefits deal

United Conservative government says Alberta doctors make more than physicians in other provinces

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Most Read