In late February, Canada’s former justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, testified before a parliamentary committee that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other high-ranking aides had pressured her to intervene on behalf of the engineering firm SNC-Lavalin in a criminal case being pursued against the company. Trudeau now faces his biggest political crisis since taking office, with general elections looming in October. In an email interview, Christopher Sands, director of the Center for Canadian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, explains the background of the SNC-Lavalin scandal and its implications for Trudeau and Canada’s political landscape.
World Politics Review: How extensive are the corruption allegations against SNC-Lavalin, and why has this been such a big headache for Justin Trudeau?
Christopher Sands: SNC-Lavalin is a large engineering firm headquartered in Prime Minister Trudeau’s home constituency, Montreal. It is facing charges in Canada over payments of 48 million Canadian dollars ($36 million) to Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011, when Libya was ruled by Moammar Gadhafi. The company denies all charges against it, and also claims that the company has been operating in compliance with high ethical standards since 2012, when new management took over.