Justin Trudeau Denies Pressuring Former Attorney General On A Criminal Case

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on March 7, 2019. He was accused of interfering in a criminal investigation of SNC-Lavalin, a powerful engineering firm.

He told the justice committee that everyone in the Prime Minister's Office recognized that the decision on whether to intervene was Wilson-Raybould's alone, that there was no improper pressure and that she never raised a complaint about it until after Trudeau told her she was being moved out of her "dream job".

There was an awkward pause at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Thursday morning after a reporter asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether he would apologize for a crisis that had engulfed his government for over a month. "As prime minister, I should have been", he said, vowing to "do better next time".

During that discussion, Wilson-Raybould said, Trudeau asked her to "help out" in finding a solution for the company that would involve revisiting the decision by the director of public prosecutions to send the company to trial.

Wilson-Raybould resigned in February from Trudeau's Cabinet. SNC-Lavalin stands accused of global bribery and fraud, including paying millions to the regime of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. In 2016, SNC-Lavalin admitted that some former executives had illegally arranged donations of more than C$80,000 to the Liberals from 2004 to 2011.

The loss of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from cabinet will be a loss, Hajdu said, but she added that she is remains confident in the group.

But Mr Trudeau said he and other officials felt she was still open to arguments on the issue because such an agreement would be possible until the last moments of a trial.

The company employs 9,000 people in Canada and is one of the nation's major employers, Trudeau said.

During Wernick's visit to the committee on Wednesday, he took issue with Wilson-Raybould's account of how the meeting unfolded, saying that he did not advocate for a DPA but rather tried to make the former attorney aware of the context surrounding the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. He then concluded, "these are the types of situations that make governing a challenge".

But he said he should have been aware of an "erosion of trust" between the minister and his office.

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Wilson-Raybould was unexpectedly demoted to the veterans affairs ministry in January.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has addressed an ongoing judicial scandal that seems to have cost his government two cabinet ministers by refusing to apologize or acknowledge he did anything wrong. "And she said that she would", Trudeau said. "It's clearer than ever that inside his government, political interference and contempt for the rule of law are a matter of course".

But Scheer dismissed Butts's testimony as "damage control" and said the buck stops with the prime minister, reported the Toronto Sun.

Butts told the justice committee his advice to Trudeau was that if he let Wilson-Raybould stay at justice he and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) would "lose control of cabinet".

Defending himself and his government in a controversy that could threaten his and his Liberal Party's political future, Trudeau acknowledged improvements can be made in how officials communicate and foster openness.

"Indeed, I expect them to do so", he said.

But the political fallout has prompted key members of the Liberal Party to step down.

She crafted Bill C-16, which entrenches gender theory into law by adding "gender expression" and "gender identity" to Canada's Human Rights Code and to the Criminal Code's hate crime section, announcing the bill at a press conference attended by a 10-year-old Charlie Lowthian-Rickert, a "trans girl" from near Ottawa, as reported by the CBC. On Feb. 18, Trudeau's closest aide, Gerald Butts, resigned in an apparent effort to take some heat off his longtime friend and boss. "We had heard representations from various sources including the company itself that this was an issue of deep concern to them and that it would potentially have consequences as dire as the company having to leave Canada altogether", he said.

"As we look back over the past weeks", he said, "there are many lessons to be learned and many things that we would like to have done differently, and that is certainly part of the reflection we need to have going forward".

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