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A political scandal surrounding Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. What's going on?

07 March, 2019, 05:40 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancels visit to Regina

Saying he deeply regrets the erosion of the trust and faith Jody Wilson-Raybauld had in her colleagues, Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's former primary adviser testified before the House of Commons Justice Committee in Ottawa this morning.

She alleged she was subjected to inappropriate pressure - as well as veiled threats about being removed as justice minister and attorney general - to intervene to halt the criminal prosecution of SNC on bribery and fraud charges related to contracts in Libya.

Wilson-Raybould told the committee last week that Butts had told her chief of staff there was no solution to the matter without some interference.

Then she asked Butts if they had sought any independent evidence that those 9,000 jobs really were at risk if SNC-Lavalin had been forced to face the legal music.

Treasury Board president Jane Philpott has resigned, the second minister to step down over a scandal that has shaken the government.

The Prime Minister's Office has confirmed that all of Justin Trudeau's events scheduled in Regina today have been cancelled.

"It is a huge privilege for me to serve in this government, to serve as foreign minister for Canada", she said.

Her department prepared the report, which she said constituted legal advice, but before sending the report to the Privy Council Office, Drouin consulted Wilson-Raybould.

If convicted criminally, the Montreal-based company would be banned from receiving any federal government business for a decade. "The Attorney General could have spoken or written to the Prime Minister at any time during this process to say attempts to contact her office on the meeting were improper and they should cease immediately".

Certainly, he tried to poke holes and raise doubts about Jody Wilson-Raybould's allegation that she was dumped as Attorney General by Trudeau because she wouldn't do the PMO's bidding in discontinuing the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, for partisan political reasons.

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Wilson-Raybould quit on February 12 after less than a month in her new job.

Butts laid the groundwork for all of that Wednesday when he told the committee there was a breakdown in the relationship between the prime minister and his former attorney general.

A former key aide to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is at the centre of a major political crisis, on Wednesday denied he had pressured the then-justice minister to allow a major firm to avoid a corruption trial a year ago. It was clear that he arrived in that committee room, which feels oddly subterranean despite being a huge space located on the fourth floor of a slickly refurbished government building, acutely aware that it would be politically disastrous for him to look like he was impugning Wilson-Raybould in any way.

"In that version of the events, the attorney general made the final decision, after weighing all of the public interest matters and a new law involved, in just 12 days", Butts said.

Trudeau has said that he and his staff always acted appropriately and the decision on whether to forgo prosecution and enter a plea agreement with the company was Wilson-Raybould's and hers alone. But he advised Trudeau that he couldn't set a precedent for a minister to refuse to be shuffled, and therefore they moved Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs.

Philpott said she would continue as a Parliament member for Trudeau's Liberal Party. The only explanation I can think of is that he believed if he repeated the statement about 9,000 lost jobs roughly 9,000 times, it would become true.

"I take my fair share of responsibility for that tragic state of affairs".

Before beginning to speak, the Liberal majority on the committee voted down a Conservative motion for Butts to be sworn in to testify under oath.

"That is not what I said", Butts responded, when asked about the allegation.

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