Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing calls to resign after ex-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testified that she was pressured to obstruct a criminal prosecution into one of Trudeau’s favored companies.
In a hearing Wednesday before the House of Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee, Wilson-Raybould said she faced “a consistent and sustained effort” by many people in Trudeau’s administration, including the prime minister himself, to help construction firm SNC-Lavalin evade corruption charges.
“Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the necessity for interference in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential for consequences, and veiled threats if a DPA [Deferred Prosecution Agreement] was not made available to SNC,” she told the committee, noting that the agreement would’ve helped SNC-Lavalin officials avoid jail time in exchange for a hefty fine.
“The Prime Minister asks me to help out—to find a solution here for SNC—citing that if there was no DPA there would be many jobs lost and that SNC will move from Montreal,” Wilson-Raybould said of a meeting she had with Trudeau.
She said things went on like this for a period of four months between September and December of 2018 before she was ultimately forced out of her role.
“In my view, the communications and efforts to change my mind on this matter should have stopped. Various officials also urged me to take partisan political considerations into account, which it was clearly improper for me to do,” she continued. “We either have a system that is based on the rule of law, the independence of the prosecutorial function, and respect with those charged to use their discretion and powers in particular ways—or we do not.”
Ezra Levant pointed out that it is against Canada’s Criminal Code to obstruct a criminal prosecution, and carries a 10-year prison sentence. Up until Wilson-Raybould’s Wednesday testimony, details of the case had mostly come from anonymous sources, which allowed Trudeau to easily continue denying any wrongdoing.
Further complicating the matter was the sudden resignation of Trudeau’s right-hand-man, Gerald Butts, a close friend from college and principal secretary to Trudeau. Butts was accused of having a central role in the pressure campaign against Wilson-Raybould, but he denied all allegations in his resignation letter.
“Any accusation that I or the staff put pressure on the Attorney General is simply not true. Canadians are rightly proud of their public institutions. They should be, because they work. But the fact is that this accusation exists,” he wrote. “It cannot and should not take one moment away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians. My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend. It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away.”
Gerald Butts served this government – and our country – with integrity, sage advice and devotion. I want to thank him for his service and continued friendship. Please read his statement today: pic.twitter.com/VIaEHJMMe4
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 18, 2019
After Wilson-Raybould’s Wednesday testimony, Butts sent a letter to Anthony Housefather, chair of the Justice and Human Rights Committee, requesting a hearing of his own.
“I believe my evidence will be of assistance to the Justice and Human Rights Committee in its consideration of these matters. I respectfully request the opportunity to attend the Committee. I need a short period of time to receive legal advice concerning my evidence and to be able to produce relevant documents to the Committee,” he wrote.
I just made the following request of the Justice Committee Chair. pic.twitter.com/MUCJwnldui
— Gerald Butts 🇨🇦 (@gmbutts) February 28, 2019
As a result of the controversy, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer is calling for Trudeau’s resignation ahead of October’s election.
“He can no longer, with a clear conscience, continue to lead this nation,” Scheer recently told reporters.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Justin Trudeau” by Presidencia de la República Mexican. CC BY 2.0. Photo “Jody Wilson-Raybould” by Erich Saide. CC BY-SA 3.0.