Published: Thu, March 07, 2019
Money | By Bruce West

Prime minister's Regina trip cancelled in favour of private meetings in Ottawa

Prime minister's Regina trip cancelled in favour of private meetings in Ottawa

Wilson-Raybould had not been hounded or pressured to change her mind about the decision to proceed to trial against SNC-Lavalin; he had not said that any solution to the SNC-Lavalin case would require some form of interference in the justice process; and 10 or 11 contacts with high-ranking public office holders, including the prime minister, Butts, the Clerk of the Privy Council and officials from the PMO, did not amount to hounding or pressure.

In a bombshell testimony last week, Jody Wilson-Raybould said she was subjected to a "consistent and sustained effort" and "veiled threats" to pursue a deferred prosecution agreement for the Montreal-based construction giant which would have protected it against a criminal conviction. Drouin also said a day later, on September 12, she was informed the director of public prosecutions was still talking to SNC-Lavalin, which indicated to Drouin that the decision not to proceed to a remediation agreement was not final.

The Prime Minister's Office has confirmed that all of Justin Trudeau's events scheduled in Regina today have been cancelled. "But I have to say, it's been a long time", Butts said, trailing off and pausing awkwardly for a second or two. The event has been postponed to a later date, the Liberals said on Tuesday morning.

So, no hard feelings, no pointing fingers or anything, but if that witch Wilson-Raybould had just shut up, sat down, and done as she was told by the people who matter, we wouldn't be in this stinking mess to begin with.

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.

He also claimed that one of the meetings, a two-hour dinner between himself and Wilson-Raybould at the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottowa on December 5, was at her request, and was an overwhelmingly positive discussion.

"I work at the intersection of the public service and the elected officials, and I am present for many discussions that touch on matters some would see as 'political.' It is my role to be aware of this context but I do not ever give advice that is partisan in content or motivation", Wernick said.

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.

Gerald Butts, senior political adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, leaves the Prime Minister's office on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

"In the end, it was the attorney general's alone to make, and it would be for all of us to explain".

Butts also testified that he and Wilson-Raybould were getting up from their December dinner meeting at the Chateau Laurier past year when she raised the subject of SNC-Lavalin.

Butts said the only reason Trudeau shuffled his cabinet in January was that Scott Brison quit politics. He also wondered aloud why Wilson-Raybould - someone he said tended to communicate in writing on the most important topics - failed to so on this one. He has "no memory" of her asking him to reprimand staff and says at no point did she suggest anyone had done anything wrong. Peter Donolo served as communications director to former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

Canada's ethics commissioner is investigating the affair but that will take months. They came from members of Canada's largest opposition party, the Conservatives, but also from lawmakers representing Trudeau's Liberal Party and two influential left-of-center parties, the New Democratic Party and the Greens.

"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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