Former senior Trudeau aide defends prime minister in testimony on scandal

Former senior Trudeau aide defends prime minister in testimony on scandal

Former senior Trudeau aide defends prime minister in testimony on scandal

During her testimony, Wilson-Raybould alleged that she faced high-level "veiled threats" and "sustained" political interference from almost a dozen senior officials between September and December 2018 - including Wernick and former principal secretary Gerald Butts - to seek a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin, which is facing bribery and corruption charges over business dealings in Libya.

Justin Trudeau has the power to do all that and, yes, even the ability to have his new attorney general, David Lametti, let SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal charge of bribery and corruption by negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement. He also wondered aloud why Wilson-Raybould - someone he said tended to communicate in writing on the most important topics - failed to so on this one.

Butts chose to wear a crossed miner's pick and shovel and in his testimony drew parallels between events during his childhood in Cape Breton, where coal-mining was once dominant, and the potential outcome in the wake of a prosecution against SNC-Lavalin.

"What happened last fall is in fact very different from the version of events you heard last week", Butts said.

"His failure to give a vigorous but reasoned response at the beginning of this pseudo-scandal allowed it to grow into Godzilla", Bothwell said.

The leader of the opposition Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, said at a news conference that Philpott's resignation demonstrates "a government in total chaos" and called again for Trudeau to resign and for a police investigation of the affair. Jane Philpott, a close friend of Wilson-Raybould's and a star Cabinet minister, resigned this week, saying she was concerned the ex-attorney general was pressured and because she lost confidence in how the government has handled the scandal.

On Wilson-Raybould: "She was always the decision maker and she was always assured she was the final decision maker".

Wilson-Raybould, unexpectedly demoted to the veterans affairs ministry in January, told the committee she felt this was linked to the SNC-Lavalin case, which Butts denied.

Opposition MPs know that this issue has caught the public's attention.

"I will note, as I indicated at the time, my statement to the committee was not a complete account but only a detailed summary".

Liberals on the committee, for now, are refusing - no doubt sensing that whatever benefit arises from Butts' appearance would be lost if Wilson-Raybould returns to testify. "However, a breakdown in the relationship between the former attorney general and the prime minister occurred".

"The question is, does it help move the issue along for the government?"

"I never said at any point in any conversation that this is what the company will do".

"One of the problems is that context for the government's position has been missing through too much of this discussion".

The controversy has become a major political crisis for Mr Trudeau.

"This is a story of two people who hold high office-the Prime Minister and the former attorney general-both of whom did their jobs to the best of their abilities, as did their respective staff", Butts said early on in his remarks.

A scandal is swirling around Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party. "Imagine for a moment that on September the 16th-the day the former attorney general told this committee the decision was made, firmly and finally-that she made a public announcement to inform Canadians of that decision".

Small Business Minister Mary Ng said in an interview that she does not see the cabinet departures as having an impact on the Liberal government's feminist agenda. Despite Wilson-Raybould's own testimony about raising the question with Trudeau, Butts testified that she didn't do that - and left it to the committee members and the public to draw the appropriate conclusion.

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