Gerald Butts full statement to the Commons justice committee on SNC-Lavalin
01:14, Mar 7, 2019
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Don Rusnak says he still stands behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, insisting what has come out publicly so far as the SNC-Lavalin scandal continues to evolve is only one side of the story.
Butts says staff in the Prime Minister's Office always respected the fact that, as attorney general, it was up to Wilson-Raybould alone to decide whether to order negotiation of a remediation agreement with the Montreal engineering giant; such an agreement would have forced the company to pay stiff penalties while avoiding a criminal conviction that could financially cripple it.
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"There was a point at which the minister asked me directly if her departure from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General had anything whatsoever to do with the SNC-Lavalin matter, and I said, 'No.' And I asked her in a surprised tone whether she was questioning the integrity of the Prime Minister".
"For a period of approximately four months between September and December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin", she testified.
But this is clear: Butts and Wernick asked to appear before the committee and chose to wear these pins as they defended their personal integrity - and Canadians decided whether to believe them.
Minister Wilson-Raybauld felt she was being shuffled out for "other reasons".
Butts said all officials working on the file knew that the decision to direct Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussel to enter into negotiations on a DPA or remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin was exclusively at the discretion of the attorney general.
And while Wilson-Raybould said she made her final decision in mid-September to back the DPP's decision to proceed with a trial and that it was inappropriate for any lobbying to persist afterwards, Butts said he, and likely others in the PMO, only became aware of this while listening to her testimony to the committee. He said he attempted to talk Brison out of stepping down, telling him it would trigger a cabinet shuffle and the Prime Minister "was happy with the team he had". The event has been postponed to a later date, the Liberals said on Tuesday morning. She then quit cabinet and gave her version of events in explosive testimony last week.
"I will say about the Clerk of the Privy Council, who I've gotten to know very well over the past three and a half years, that I find the accusations levelled against him completely inconsistent with his character". "I was deeply concerned by what the minister was saying".
Bothwell said Trudeau is not like his father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who swept to office in 1968 on a wave of support dubbed "Trudeaumania" and governed for most of the next two decades.
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