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EXCLUSIVE: Trudeau to announce $37 million in funding to Charlottetown-based BioVectra

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce a major boost in funding for a local biotech firm during his visit to P.E.I. Monday, which sources say will create 150 local jobs.

A high-level government source confirmed that the prime minister plans to announce $37.5 million in new funding to Charlottetown-based biotech company BioVectra Inc. Monday afternoon. The new funding will allow the company to expand its operations on Aviation Avenue and hire an additional 150 full-time staff. The funding will also create an additional 125 jobs for post-secondary students.

The source told The Guardian the funding would help BioVectra develop new medications for treatments of cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Trudeau will also attend a $150-a-plate Liberal Party fundraising breakfast at the Delta Prince Edward Monday morning. He will also meet with Premier Wade MacLauchlan.

The visit comes days after former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould delivered dramatic testimony to a Commons justice committee alleging she was “hounded” by several officials in Trudeau’s government related to her decision not to offer a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC-Lavalin. The Quebec engineering firm, a prominent donor to both the Liberal and Conservative parties, had heavily lobbied Trudeau’s government to negotiate the agreement, which would have avoided a criminal prosecution related to alleged bribery of Libyan government officials.

Wilson-Raybould was later shuffled out of her cabinet role as Justice Minister, serving briefly as Minister of Veterans Affairs. She resigned from Trudeau’s cabinet on February 12.

SNC-Lavalin has a lengthy history of questionable business practices. In 2013, the company and over 100 of its affiliates were given a 10-year ban from bidding on World Bank-financed contracts. The ban followed a bribery scandal involving the Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh. Four SNC-Lavalin employees were charged by Canadian authorities but later acquitted after RCMP wiretap evidence was deemed inadmissible.

Nationally, Trudeau’s Liberals have dropped significantly in opinion polls since news of the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke in February. Liberals currently represent all four of P.E.I.’s federal ridings.

Stu.neatby@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/stu_neatby

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