Justin Trudeau regrets 'erosion of trust' over political scandal


He said he has learned lessons from the case, but did not specify what those lessons were.

Lavalin is a major employer in Quebec and Trudeau's pressure on Wilson-Raybould was justified, he says, because thousands of jobs were at stake. Butts told the committee that when it became necessary to shuffle the cabinet, because of treasury board chair Scott Brison's resignation, Butts, and his boss, Trudeau, decided the best person to take on Brison's role was the treasury board vice-chair, then Indigenous services minister Jane Philpott.

Trudeau was expected to strike a conciliatory tone but at times sounded defensive.

She named 11 government officials, including Trudeau's longtime friend and principal secretary Gerry Butts, saying they "urged me to take partisan political considerations into account, which was clearly improper". "There wasn't a real acceptance of responsibility".

"I will miss the input of the former attorney general and Dr. Philpott but I will also enjoy my continued relationships with them as members of Parliament".

Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee that the pressure from the prime minister's office was "very inappropriate" for its attempt to compromise an independent position but was not, in her opinion, illegal.

After that meeting, Trudeau said, "I asked my staff to follow up regarding Ms. Wilson-Raybould's final decision". "She indicated to me that she had made a decision".

Wilson-Raybould has said she made a final decision on the matter on September 16 and informed Trudeau of that during their meeting the following day, after which she maintains no one should have continued to pressure her on the issue.

When asked directly yesterday whether he planned to apologize outright, Trudeau ducked the question, saying instead he should have been personally aware of an "erosion of trust" between Gerald Butts, his former principal secretary, and Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former attorney general. "As we now learned through this testimony, that was not the case". He closed by trying to look ahead.

"I am firmly convinced that nothing happened here beyond the normal operations of government", Butts said.

SNC-Lavalin has about 9,000 employees in Canada, including about 3,400 in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec, which also includes Trudeau's parliamentary constituency. 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.

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

Trudeau responded to the Globe report by telling the news media that his government did not "direct" her on the matter.

Trudeau has been dogged by allegations that he and his officials improperly leaned on Wilson-Raybould to help construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoid a criminal trial.

At the end of Wednesday's meeting with Wernick and Drouin, opposition MPs tabled a motion to invite Wilson-Raybould and other top officials including Trudeau's chief of staff Katie Telford, Wilson-Raybould's former chief of staff Jessica Prince, and PMO advisers Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marquez to its next meeting, to tell their side of the story.

It did not work.

Maybe that's enough to win over folks who were perturbed by the character clash, with the idea that Mr. Trudeau's bullies were pressuring her and that he sacked her for standing up to him.

On Monday, another key, female minister resigned over Trudeau's handling of the case.

"It's clearer than ever that inside his government, political interference and contempt for the rule of law are a matter of course", he said in a post on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Butts offered testimony of his own. He denied wrongdoing but acknowledged a breakdown of trust between Trudeau and his Cabinet.

Wilson-Raybould is willing to reappear.

The prime minister said, "Our government will be stronger for having wrestled with these issues".