Five things Canada learned at the justice committee from Butts, Drouin

Gerald Butts former principal secretary to Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau testifies before the House of Commons justice committee on Parliament Hill

Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee last week that Butts and other senior officials had subjected her to persistent and inappropriate pressure to help SNC-Lavalin evade a trial on charges of bribing Libyan officials.

Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, entered the committee room - one larger than used the week prior for former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould - and took his seat, alone.

After all that, Trudeau said the testimony has revealed a "difference in perspective" on conversations that took place "among colleagues about how to tackle a hard issue".

Butts said he did not recall Wilson-Raybould saying anything about anyone pressuring her inappropriately. "That's the way it should be, and that's the way it's playing out", Carr said in an interview Wednesday.

New Brunswick MP Wayne Long, who broke Liberal ranks last month to vote for an NDP motion calling for a public inquiry, tweeted that he was glad to have heard from Trudeau but he wants Wilson-Raybould called back to the justice committee so she can respond to Butts's testimony.

Except for a couple of tense exchanges with opposition members of the committee near the end of the two-hour session, Butts's tone was respectful, conciliatory and even elegiac.

Minister Wilson-Raybauld felt she was being shuffled out for "other reasons".

"I was instructed not to send it", said Drouin.

Butts said he told Prince that it was ultimately Wilson-Raybould's decision, but he also made it clear that the jobs of 9,000 people are not a political issue but a "very real public policy issue".

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Wilson-Raybould testified she believes she lost the justice job because she didn't give in to "sustained" and "inappropriate pressure" to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.

He said the push to have her seek out an external opinion from the likes of retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin was also motivated by the novelty of the DPA, only legalized by the Liberal government last summer.

Deputy justice minister Nathalie Drouin said her department was made aware on September 4 that the director of public prosecutions had decided SNC-Lavalin was not eligible for a remediation agreement. Wilson-Raybould argued that she felt her demotion was connected to her decision to continue pursuing an investigation of SNC-Lavalin despite "veiled threats" by senior Liberal officials. She said Wernick indicated the primary need was to cover the roles and responsibilities of the minister of justice and attorney general. "What would be the rationale?"

Trudeau's former principal secretary said the prime minister's marching orders to staff were to bear in mind potential job losses at the Montreal-based firm, and to work with the public service to consider all legal options. He first learned that fact during her testimony last week, as the rest of the country did, he said, and his "understanding" is that no one at the PMO or PCO knew at the time, either.

Now ask yourself a very simple question: Why?

The House Justice Committee has put its study into the SNC-Lavalin affair and the related legal principles on pause until March 19, federal budget day, where potentially behind closed doors the Liberal-dominated committee will decide next steps.

"This is all riding on the threat to jobs, but based on the 2018 audited financial statements of SNC-Lavalin, they now have $15 billion in back-orders". "Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques are incredibly accomplished lawyers of sterling reputations and it is inconceivable to me that they would engage in this sort of behaviour".

That was eerily similar to how Trudeau handled earlier allegations that he groped a young woman before entering politics, insisting that while he did nothing wrong, he understands people can interpret the same events differently.

"That's my understanding from Department of Finance briefings". He also said Indigenous files were critical because Trudeau might invite the new minister to attend meetings with Indigenous leaders the following week.


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