Montreal

Quebec premier backs Trudeau on trying to save jobs at SNC-Lavalin, but silent on the means PM took

François Legault stopped short of vindicating the actions Trudeau, and his allies, took to convince former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule the decision of federal prosecutors to push forward with prosecuting the company. 

François Legault says Trudeau's intentions were right when he tried to get a deal for the engineering giant

Quebec Premier François Legault said it was "important" that prime minister took steps to protect well-paying jobs at SNC-Lavalin. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, under fire after a report found he broke an ethics law as he tried to spare SNC-Lavalin from criminal prosecution, received a qualified boost of support Friday from Quebec's premier.

François Legault said he welcomed Trudeau's efforts to arrange a deferred prosecution agreement for the Montreal-based engineering giant. 

"Whether it's in Quebec, or other provinces, it's always important that the prime minister makes sure that we do all that is possible [to protect] well-paid jobs," Legault said after an event in Sept-Îles, Que. 

Legault has in past expressed fears that a criminal prosecution, and the prospect of a guilty verdict, could prompt SNC-Lavalin to relocate, expose it to a foreign takeover or contribute to job losses. 

He said Friday that the company's current employees shouldn't be punished for the past actions of "two to three crooks."

But Legault stopped short of vindicating the actions Trudeau, and his allies, took to convince former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule the decision of federal prosecutors to push forward with prosecuting the company. 

"I am in full agreement with Mr. Trudeau for his intention. Now, regarding the means, I don't want to comment about the way it was done," Legault said.

Since the ethics commissioner's report dropped on Wednesday, Trudeau has been steadfast in refusing to apologize for the actions that violated the Conflict of Interest Act. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)

In a report released Wednesday, the ethics commissioner concluded those means violated the Conflict of Interest Act.

Trudeau has been steadfast in refusing to apologize. "I'm not going to apologize for standing up for Canadians' jobs because that's my job — to make sure that Canadians, communities and families across the country are supported, and that's what I will always do," he said Thursday.

SNC-Lavalin was charged in 2015 with bribing Libyan government officials and defrauding Libyan organizations. The alleged crimes took place in the 2000s.

A criminal trial is expected to take place in the coming months.

With files from Radio-Canada

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