Gerald Butts full statement to the Commons justice committee on SNC-Lavalin

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Gerald Butts, Trudeau's long-time friend and former principal secretary until his resignation last month, testified before the committee on Wednesday.

Former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee last week that she and her staff had been subjected to persistent unwelcome pressure.

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.

The cancellation comes after Treasury Board president Jane Philpott resigned from cabinet amidst the SNC-Lavalin scandal on Monday.

Butts's explanation that Wilson-Raybould was dropped as attorney general because another cabinet minister, Scott Brison, resigned sounds more ridiculous every time the Liberals trot it out.

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

"I firmly believe nothing inappropriate occurred here and nothing inappropriate was alleged to have occurred until after the cabinet shuffle", he said, according to The Globe and Mail.

"I would, of course, make myself available to answer any further questions and to provide further clarity", Wilson-Raybould said.

The concern officials had, he said, was for the 9,000 jobs that could have been lost at SNC-Lavalin if it faced a criminal conviction - something Butts called a public-policy issue. The event has been postponed to a later date, the Liberals said on Tuesday morning.

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.

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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.

Trudeau has acknowledged raising the issue with Wilson-Raybould, but has said that was appropriate.

In the wake of testimony from the prime minister's former right hand man Gerald Butts and new information from Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, Chris Hall sits down with Peter Donolo, director of communications for former prime minister Jean Chretien, for his take on the SNC-Lavalin scandal and what should happen next.

Butts testified he only found out the Attorney General had reached a decision to not proceed with a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the Quebec engineering giant last week when she spoke before the committee.

Trudeau ultimately moved Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs, and Butts said that days later, Wilson-Raybould accused them of being punishing her for refusing to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case.

However, Mr Conacher, who co-founded Democracy Watch, said Ms Wilson-Raybould's testimony was enough for a prosecution to be brought against Mr Trudeau so a Canadian court can determine if there was any wrongdoing.

Butts' testimony planned to contradict Wilson-Raybould's version of events, in some detail, casting a different light on conversations Wilson-Raybould described as part a campaign of pressure tactics and veiled threats to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. He has "no memory" of her asking him to reprimand staff and says at no point did she suggest anyone had done anything wrong.

Canada's ethics commissioner is investigating the affair but that will take months. "My advice was that the prime minister should not set the precedent that a Cabinet minister could refuse a new position and effectively remain in one position for the life of the government".

But there's just one problem: Trudeau's Liberal MPs wield a majority on the committee, and they banded together to vote down an Opposition motion to recall Wilson-Raybould as a witness.

"(Butts') evidence simply defies all logic", he said.

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