MPs react to Gerald Butts' testimony on SNC-Lavalin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancels visit to Regina

It could threaten the political future of the country's leader and the rule of the Liberal Party, seven months ahead of national elections.

That directly contradicts Wilson-Raybould's testimony, in which she recounted a mid-September meeting with the clerk of the Privy Council and the Prime Minister: "I told him that I had done my due diligence and had made up my mind on SNC and that I was not going to interfere with the decision of the director", she said.

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she's willing to provide additional testimony to the House of Commons justice committee on the SNC-Lavalin affair. Anything he and his surrogates did was in defence of thousands of quality SNC-Lavalin jobs imperilled by legislation that would bar the company from bidding on federal contracts for 10 years if it was convicted of corruption and bribery charges. He claimed that the first time she raised the issue in a serious way was at the time of the cabinet shuffle, in which she went from the justice portfolio to veterans affairs.

But, a spokeswoman for the company said Trudeau changed his schedule.

Opposition members are also upset the Liberals voted down a motion to recall Jody Wilson-Raybould to committee.

Wilson-Raybould was demoted from her role as attorney general and justice minister in January as part of a Cabinet shuffle by Trudeau.

Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau's former principal secretary, delivers the beginning of his opening statement before MPs investigating the SNC-Lavalin matter. Trudeau denies the allegations, accusing Wilson-Raybould of mischaracterizing the events.

She added that she would "of course" make herself available to give additional testimony, stating that her previous testimony "was not a complete account but only a detailed summary".

On the Prime Minister's website no cancellation has been announced, however an "update" to his itinerary has just one event scheduled for Toronto on Tuesday.

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"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".

Speaking of good efforts, Butts put his heart into pushing the idea that the reason he (a non-lawyer) was so desperate for Wilson-Raybould (a lawyer) to have the benefit of outside legal advice that she didn't ask for and didn't want, was that the Remediation Agreement legislation was so new, they desperately needed help interpreting it and figuring out what was legal.

"Regardless of whether you believe (Wilson-Raybould) or you don't believe her, the reality is that there are stark contradictions and one of them isn't telling the full story", Conservative House Leader and justice committee member Lisa Raitt said after the meeting.

Butts said he was startled when he learned that Wilson-Raybould felt the secret talks had threatened the independence of the criminal justice system.

Trudeau's Liberal government has been rocked for weeks by the snowballing scandal, which has triggered the resignation of two cabinet ministers and badly tarnished the image of the golden boy premier.

Asked to comment on Wernick's involvement in this matter, Butts said on Wednesday morning that he finds the accusations levelled against Canada's top civil servant "completely inconsistent with his character".

Small Business Minister Mary Ng said in an interview that she does not see the cabinet departures as having an impact on the Liberal government's feminist agenda.

Butts says it was made clear to Wilson-Raybould that she was free to ignore their advice and, if she agreed to seek an external opinion, was equally free to ignore that as well.

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