Published: Thu, March 07, 2019
Business | By Pearl Harrison

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

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

Justin Trudeau's former top adviser says Jody Wilson-Raybould never raised any concerns with how the Prime Minister's Office was lobbying her on extending a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to SNC-Lavalin until she was moved from the attorney general post in January.

Butts also stressed in his testimony that there was no pressure on Wilson-Raybould to change her decision on SNC-Lavalin, only to inform the decision with the outside expert opinion of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Butts presented an alternative narrative, that what had happened was basically an internal Liberal party feud, where Wilson-Raybould and the people she was talking to in the PMO interpreted the same events differently.

She told the Prime Minister she anxious that Wilson-Raybauld might wonder if the move was connected to the SNC-Lavalin affair. A former health minister and Indigenous-services minister who was president of the federal Treasury Board when she quit the cabinet, Philpott was widely seen as one of Trudeau's most capable ministers.

Wilson-Raybould was subsequently moved from justice to veterans affairs after Butts said he warned the prime minister of the precedent it would set by allowing a cabinet minister to veto a move.

Speaking on Wednesday before a House of Commons Justice Committee, Mr Butts said: "I am firmly convinced nothing happened beyond the normal operations of government".

The prime minister's office is confirming that a rally and a carbon pricing event scheduled to be held in Regina on Monday have been cancelled.

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

Butts said he regrets that Wilson-Raybould's trust and faith in her colleagues have eroded, but all the officials named in Wilson-Raybould's testimony have done nothing wrong. A conviction would keep the company from getting government contracts for a decade. The event has been postponed to a later date, the Liberals said on Tuesday morning.

At issue are allegations made by Canada's former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who says Trudeau and his inner circle intervened inappropriately in the criminal prosecution of a powerful engineering firm, SNC Lavalin, headquartered in Trudeau's home city of Montréal in Quebec province. In her first appearance at committee, Drouin refused to reveal what advice she gave Wilson-Raybould, citing solicitor-client privilege. She said Wernick indicated the primary need was to cover the roles and responsibilities of the minister of justice and attorney general.

Both had been symbols of the Liberals' ability to recruit strong female candidates: Wilson-Raybould is a lawyer and former regional chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations; Philpott is a family doctor with extensive experience overseas.

Butts says he and others tried only to persuade Wilson-Raybould to seek independent legal advice on the matter, given the potential impact on the company's 9,000 employees and the fact that remediation agreements are a new feature in Canadian law.

Canadian leader Justin Trudeau's ex-right hand man defended him in parliament on Wednesday over accusations of meddling in the prosecution of a corporate giant that have plunged the prime minister into his worst crisis in office. May went on to accuse Trudeau's staff of making "veiled threats" against the attorney general over the Lavalin matter.

The Vancouver Granville MP said she would happily comply.

Canada's ethics commissioner is investigating the affair but that will take months. "However, a breakdown in the relationship between the former attorney general and the prime minister occurred".

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

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