Canada’s Trudeau denies interfering in SNC-Lavalin case

Justin Trudeau shares a new version of what happened at his September 2018 meeting with Jody Wilson-Raybould

Justin Trudeau shares a new version of what happened at his September 2018 meeting with Jody Wilson-Raybould

As part of their campaign, some "urged me to take partisan political considerations into account", she said.

Butts said on Wednesday the SNC-Lavalin issue had nothing to do with the cabinet shuffle, which he said was prompted by the political retirement of Treasury Board Minister Scott Brison.

That he should have listened more, that he should have been aware of the erosion of trust between his closest aide, Gerald Butts, and the former justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

He chalked up the controversy to an "erosion of trust" between Wilson-Raybould and Butts that he should have caught earlier.

Sheehan said "I can tell you that I have had interaction with the PMO a thousand times as it relates to steel, that's 122,000 jobs, they're talking about 9,000 jobs in Quebec (regarding SNC-Lavalin).I appreciate the PMO making jobs a priority because it's been very helpful for this community".

Such situations, he said, "make governing a challenge".

Butts, testifying to the House of Commons justice committee on Wednesday, denied he had crossed the line by asking Wilson-Raybould to consider offering SNC-Lavalin a deal to avoid a trial on charges of bribing Libyan officials.

Butts would only say he received internal government briefings on the matter. Mr. Trudeau moved on to telling us he'd learned a lesson without really explaining what happened.

"We considered that she was still open to hearing different arguments and different approaches on what her decision could be", Mr Trudeau said.

Earlier this week, a new poll showed support for the beleaguered prime minister and his Liberals falling for the first time behind the opposition Tories, amid calls for Trudeau's resignation.

When it comes to Wilson-Raybould's status in the Liberal caucus, the Prime Minister's Office says Trudeau is still reflecting on that but doesn't want to make a decision until he hears from his caucus.

He said: "She did not come to me, and I wish she had".

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It has signed reimbursement agreements, settlements and compliance agreements with organizations as diverse as the Quebec government, the African Development Bank Group and Elections Canada (for illegal contributions to the Liberal party) and has been debarred for 10 years from bidding on projects by the World Bank because of misconduct.

Trudeau then appeared to offer a different version of events surrounding the September 17 meeting that he had held with Wilson-Raybould and the country's top bureaucrat, Michael Wernick.

The prime minister said he had now asked for external opinions on the dual role of the justice minister and attorney general, as well as the operating policies for cabinet ministers and staff related to dealings on judicial matters.

Last week, Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee that she was relentlessly and inappropriately pressured last fall by Trudeau, his senior staff, the top public servant and others to intervene to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. And she said that she would.

"At no point in time did they direct her (Wilson-Raybould) specifically with a decision (to step in and resolve the corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin)", Sheehan maintained. "I have taken - and will continue to take - many lessons from these recent days and few weeks".

Wilson-Raybould could have found additional ways to address problems Indigenous people face, said Bear.

"I said to her that I was preoccupied by the number of jobs involved in this in Quebec and obviously across the country", he said. "And she said that she would", Trudeau said.

"It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our Attorney General should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases", Philpott's resignation letter said. He stopped short of apologizing to Wilson-Raybould.

Wilson-Raybould refused to ask prosecutors to settle, and the trial is set to proceed.

He did also remind her, Trudeau agreed, that he was the member from Papineau, just as JWR had testified he did, and "stressed the importance of Canadian jobs". Pressed further, he said, "There were detailed conversations on a broad range of things that were discussed".

Trudeau said his team and everyone in his government has been focused on protecting jobs, and he stressed that "the rule of law remains fully intact".

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