Trudeau's principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Pat Wise
February 19, 2019

During an event in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata Friday morning, Trudeau talked about the discussions inside his government around the company, including questions asked of him by two different Quebec premiers, representatives of the company and unions and MPs. "I can tell you our government did its job", Trudeau said.

The Globe and Mail's report this month said Trudeau's office pressured her to instruct the director of public prosecutions - as allowed by law - to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.

SNC-Lavalin's headquarters in Montreal.

"There are always a wide range of factors that go into making that decision", he said.

"There were many discussions going on. I had full confidence in her role as attorney general to make the decision", he said.

In October, federal prosecutors rejected the company's request for the remediation deal.

Wilson-Raybould was moved from the Department of Justice to Veterans Affairs in January's cabinet shuffle.

"What's clear after the Justice Committee meeting, is that the Liberals have no interest in finding the truth and are only interested in helping the Prime Minister cover this up", said Motz.

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Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says a public inquiry is necessary in the scandal involving engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and Canada's former justice minister. The Liberals say this is a first step in a cautious investigation; the opposition calls it a coverup.

February 7 - Citing unnamed sources, the Globe and Mail newspaper reports that Trudeau's aides "attempted to press Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister to intervene in the corruption and fraud prosecution of Montreal engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.", and that exasperation with her lack of co-operation was one reason for shuffling her out of the justice portfolio.

Monday, Trudeau suggested her continued presence in the cabinet meant nothing untoward had happened.

At Friday's press conference Trudeau reiterated his sentiment from earlier this week, that it was Wilson-Raybould's responsibility to raise any issue she had with him, which she did not do before quitting cabinet.

Trudeau didn't say what reasons she gave for her resignation, only that he accepted her decision, even if he didn't totally understand it.

Wilson-Raybould has declined to speak, citing solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality.

While there will a process to get answers for her departure through the House of Commons justice committee and ethics commissioner, Bellegarde says the Liberals must push critical pieces of legislation, including a recently tabled bill on Indigenous languages and a proposed bill on child welfare.

Trudeau also slammed anonymous Liberals who made unflattering remarks about Wilson-Raybould by suggesting she was hard to work with and didn't seem to be a team player.

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