Canadian PM Trudeau's former top aide testifies in his defence

Canadian PM Trudeau's former top aide testifies in his defence

"A second member of Trudeau's Cabinet resigned on Monday, saying she had lost confidence in how the government had dealt with allegations that officials inappropriately pressured former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould previous year to try to help construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a trial on charges of bribing Libyan officials", the outlet reported.

In the meeting, Wilson-Raybould told the committee that Butts said something to the effect of that there was no solution "that does not involve some interference" after being warned what was being proposed was political interference in a prosecution.

Just yesterday, the Trudeau administration was rocked by the resignation of another Cabinet official, Jane Philpott, who said it was "untenable" for her to remain on and defend the government amid the scandal.

Wilson-Raybould alleged that Butts was one of multiple senior staffers within the Prime Minister's Office that applied what she believed was inappropriate pressure.

As Gerald Butts and Michael Wernick defended themselves before the House of Commons justice committee, they came prepared with not only a carefully curated choice of words, but carefully selected attire.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in Washington, D.C., in 2016.

Which is convincing for a few seconds until you realize that it was Butts' government that drafted the legislation in the first place.

It was in that light that Butts explained efforts to get Wilson-Raybould to see an outside legal opinion, even though she seemed bent on sticking with the decision of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) not to invite the company to negotiate a remediation agreement.

Really? SNC-Lavalin itself received word on September 4 from the Director of Public Prosecutions that the company would not be getting a deferred prosecution agreement and would be facing a trial. Critics say that would be improper political meddling in a case.

Former Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould arrives to give her testimony about the SNC-LAVALIN affair before a justice committee hearing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 27, 2019.

"When you boil this all down, the only thing we ever asked the attorney general to do was to get a second opinion".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reportedly considering a "statement of contrition" over allegations that he pressured a female, indigenous attorney general to abandon the investigation and prosecution of a Quebec company the Canadian government believed was engaging in fraud and corruption.

As a result, Butts said Trudeau and the PMO determined that only Jane Philpott had the capacity and institutional knowledge to take over the complicated role, but anxious what signal it would send by shuffling one of its most capable ministers from the Indigenous Services portfolio. May went on to accuse Trudeau's staff of making "veiled threats" against the attorney general over the Lavalin matter. 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.

Since Wilson-Raybould's testimony, opposition parties have called for Wernick, who is supposed to be non-partisan, to be fired.

Butts' testimony is expected to contradict Wilson-Raybould's version of events, in some detail. "They have a very secure financial situation, with gross revenues of $10 billion", she said.

The Liberals say they found Butts credible while Conservative and NDP MPs say they did not.

What's not in dispute - and hasn't been for the past month - is that the SNC-Lavalin affair is taking a heavy toll on the government.

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

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