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

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.”

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.”

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