The Current

Scheer 'almost salivating' at the prospect of Trudeau lawsuit, but it won't happen, says legal expert

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer struck a defiant tone Sunday when he revealed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had threatened him with a lawsuit, over remarks made by Scheer on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. But will the lawsuit ever see the light of day?

PM threatened to sue Scheer for defamation over SNC-Lavalin remarks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer revealed Sunday that he had been threatened with a lawsuit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Canadian Press)

Read Story Transcript

A legal expert says that while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer may be daring the prime minister to take him to court over his remarks on the SNC-Lavalin scandal, it likely won't happen.

"If you saw his press conference you couldn't help but notice that the leader of the Opposition was almost salivating with this prospect, because he wants to see the optics of a whole slew of witnesses, and discoveries taking place, and emails, letters etc.," said Errol Mendes, a professor of constitutional and international law at the University of Ottawa.

But the optics of such a trial in an election year are "why it's probably never going to happen," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"To have … the prime minister being a witness in a court trial, which could take many months, if not over a year, is not going to happen," he said.

"There's a lot more ... for Canadians to be worried about than two men basically fighting it out in court."

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has received a lawsuit threat from the prime minister regarding 'defamatory' comments he made about the SNC-Lavalin affair. 1:53

Scheer revealed Sunday that he had received a lawsuit threat from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's lawyer, relating to comments he made on March 29, when he accused the prime minister of political interference, of lying to Canadians and of corrupt conduct.

Trudeau's lawyers argue that these accusations are "highly defamatory comments."

Mendes argued that the threat of a lawsuit was Trudeau's way of telling Scheer that "you can talk about what you think went wrong [with] SNC-Lavalin, but please don't hype it up to the extent that you're doing, and actually moving into the area of defamation."

He said he hopes good sense will prevail, as in "a prolonged trial, there are no winners."

"I think it was Jean Chrétien who said this: rather than going into a defamation suit, regard it as mud being thrown at you."

"Instead of going to court, you just flick the mud off and move on."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Samira Mohyeddin.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.