MPs react to Gerald Butts' testimony on SNC-Lavalin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancels visit to Regina

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancels visit to Regina

Whether he succeeded is far from clear.

He disputed the contention of Wilson-Raybould, Canada's first indigenous Attorney-General and justice minister, that she was moved to a new portfolio over her refusal to take action in the case.

That agreement would have allowed the firm to avoid a criminal trial and instead agree to alternative terms or conditions, like penalties or enhanced compliance measures. "I am firmly convinced that nothing happened here beyond the normal operations of government". "We did what any responsible government would, of any political stripe".

In a letter to Commissioner Brenda Lucki, the Conservative Party leader said: "Canadians are rightly concerned that criminal law has been violated".

During her testimony, Wilson-Raybould alleged that she faced high-level "veiled threats" and "sustained" political interference from almost a dozen senior officials between September and December 2018 - including Wernick and former principal secretary Gerald Butts - to seek a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin, which is facing bribery and corruption charges over business dealings in Libya. Butts said that decision had nothing to do with SNC-Lavalin, and that her objections around SNC only ramped up around that time.

On Wilson-Raybould: "She was always the decision maker and she was always assured she was the final decision maker".

In his own testimony, Butts attempted to refute Wilson-Raybould's account, suggesting that high-level discussions of the Lavalin matter focused appropriately on how the case might affect jobs and employment, not on political repercussions of the case.

The country's top bureaucrat, Michael Wernick, offered still another view on Wednesday.

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

"I believe that if any minister is made aware of something they think is this wrong, I believe they have an obligation to inform the prime minister soon after they become aware of it". Public opinion polls show support for the Liberals is softening.

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She grew close to the former Disney star, and the pair remained friends after the was eliminated from the competition. She was brought to the hospital and pronounced dead at around 5.30pm local time.

She then quit cabinet and gave her version of events in explosive testimony last week.

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

Others argue that the effect of Butts' appearance was more positive than negative.

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.

But when opposition MPs tried to take him though her specific allegations, Wernick said he couldn't remember everything he said to her because he wasn't "wearing a wire", nor had he taken any notes of those conversations when they occurred.

Some nervous Liberal parliamentarians say Trudeau needs to make changes to his inner circle, and complain that his office seems to have no plan to deal with the crisis.

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.

Minutes after the prime minister's former principal secretary left the justice committee hearing, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh denounced his "baseless" testimony and renewed his call for a public inquiry.

Butts stressed the decision to remove her from her post had nothing to do with SNC Lavalin and the decision to shuffle the cabinet was only made after MP Scott Brison told the Prime Minister he would not seek re-election. He also denied that she was removed as justice minister and attorney-general because of her refusal to negotiate with the company.

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.

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