Trudeau: Mistakes made in SNC-Lavalin affair, no rules broken
Trudeau: Mistakes made in SNC-Lavalin affair, no rules broken
PM acknowledges 'erosion of trust' between office and Jody Wilson-Raybould
08 March, 2019, 09:29
Scheer said he stands by his call for the prime minister to quit because "the real Justin Trudeau" is someone who "can't manage his office, let alone the affairs of a great nation".
Trudeau's former minister of justice and attorney general has said she was pressured to help a Quebec-based construction company to settle a pending criminal case amid allegations it bribed officials in Libya for government contracts, The Globe and Mail reported last month. A conviction could result in the company being banned from bidding on federal projects for 10 years, potentially endangering as many as 9,000 jobs.
"I was not aware of that erosion of trust", said Trudeau, during a morning news conference in Ottawa on Thursday.
"One of the things central to my leadership is fostering an environment where my ministers, caucus and staff feel comfortable coming to me when they have concerns. Twice. Remember your reactions?"
But he added, Wilson-Raybould also should have been more forthcoming with her concerns. Her close friend and cabinet ally, Treasury Board president Jane Philpott, resigned in solidarity on Monday, saying she'd lost confidence in the government's handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
A month to the day that the scandal first broke, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has managed the improbable - both confirming key details of the deposed attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould's testimony (i.e., she was telling the truth) and revealing his own shallow grasp of what constitutes improper interference with the justice system and its highest officers.
There is indeed an "erosion of trust" here - between the prime minister and Canadians.
Butts said he advised Trudeau that the prime minister couldn't have a minister vetoing reassignment because it would have set a precedent.
It is not clear whether 9,000 jobs are actually in danger.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada's former attorney general, center, arrives to testify before the House of Commons justice committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.
Butts would only say he received internal government briefings on the matter.
"Many lessons to be learned. As we now learn through this testimony, that was not the case", Mr Trudeau said. Opposition members of the justice committee are pushing for her to be invited back to respond to Butts' testimony and she indicated in a statement that she'd be happy to do so.
He is seeking external expert opinions on the operating policies and practices of cabinet, the public service and political staff when it comes to judicial matters.
Ms Wilson-Raybould had the power to scrap the decision to go to trial but decided against it. "I wish she had come forward to me in the fall.she did not". Asked, for example, whether officials from his office, in the context of a criminal matter, had raised concerns about winning re-election - a specific allegation made by Wilson-Raybould - the prime minister dodged and weaved.
"I was preoccupied by the number of jobs on this in Quebec and across the country", he said.
Her discomfort appears to have begun as early as September 17 in a meeting with Trudeau in which she said he raised the SNC file, and mentioned that he was a Quebec MP and it was a Quebec company. It was that he - and his PMO - didn't put inappropriate pressure on the then-attorney-general, but he understands now that she felt differently. He stopped short of apologizing to Wilson-Raybould.
As well, she said Finance Minister Bill Morneau's chief of staff Ben Chin told her office that if they didn't get a deal with SNC-Lavalin, "it's the Quebec election right now, so we can't have that happen". Pressed further, he said, "There were detailed conversations on a broad range of things that were discussed".
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