VIDEO: PM Acknowledges Erosion of Trust in SNC-Lavalin Scandal
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he should have been aware of an "erosion of trust" between his office and the former minister of justice over the SNC-Lavalin controversy.
In a news conference Thursday morning heard live on AM800, Trudeau said the breakdown happened with his former principal secretary Gerald Butts, but he stopped short of apologizing to his former minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Trudeau says dialogue is crucial on matters of justice, noting that Wilson-Raybould did not come to him to discuss the pressure she believed she was under to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution.
He says he has learned many lessons from this file and that going forward, his government will be reviewing the dual role of the minister of justice and attorney general.
Wilson-Raybould says she was improperly pressured to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and was punished for her refusal to give in by being moved out of the justice portfolio to veterans affairs in an early January cabinet shuffle. She resigned from cabinet shortly after the controversy erupted.
Trudeau's former principal secretary spent much of the day Wednesday testifying in front of the Commons justice committee on the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Butts addressed concerns that the P-M's January cabinet shuffle was an act of reprisal against Wilson-Raybould for her stance on avoiding a criminal prosecution of the Quebec-based engineering giant.
He said that simply wasn't the case, adding that the first he or Trudeau heard about her concerns was when Trudeau told Jane Philpott — a close friend of Wilson-Raybould — about the cabinet shuffle.
Butts said that Trudeau told Philpott that he was going to move her from Indigenous Services to Treasury Board, while offering Wilson-Raybould the Indigenous Services job.
But Philpott expressed concern that her colleague might view as a demotion and connected to the SNC-Lavalin file.
Wilson-Raybould would turn down the post, settling into Veterans Affairs before resigning from cabinet a short time later.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spoke following Trudeau's statement and is again, calling for the Prime Minister's resignation.