Trudeau’s former top adviser asks to testify after Wilson-Raybould bombshell

Gerald Butts wants to give his side of the story in the SNC-Lavalin affair

Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, takes part in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) in the cabinet room on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary Butts is asking to testify on the SNC-Lavalin affair.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, wants to give his side of the story in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Butts wrote the House of Commons justice committee Thursday, requesting he be called as a witness.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould says she got veiled threats on SNC-Lavalin

His request came one day after former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testified that she faced relentless pressure — and even veiled threats — from Trudeau, senior prime-ministerial aides, Canada’s top public servant and the finance minister’s office to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. Butts was among those she accused of inappropriate pressure tactics.

The Liberal-dominated committee announced later that it will invite Butts to appear next Wednesday or soon thereafter and will also recall Michael Wernick, clerk of the Privy Council, and Nathalie Drouin, the deputy minister of justice, both of whom testified last week before Wilson-Raybould levelled specific accusations involving them.

Butts said he believes he has evidence that will help the committee get to the bottom of the affair. He added that he will need a short time to receive legal advice and compile relevant documents before testifying.

Trudeau’s longtime friend and most trusted adviser resigned as his principal secretary last week amid the mushrooming controversy over the government’s attempts to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial on charges of bribery and corruption related to its bid to secure contracts in Libya.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Butts categorically denied that he or anyone else in Trudeau’s office pressured Wilson-Raybould. He said he was quitting to avoid distracting from the government’s agenda and suggested he wanted to be free to defend himself.

“My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend,” he said in the statement.

On Wednesday, Wilson-Raybould specifically accused Butts and Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, of pushing for an external legal opinion on the option of negotiating a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin — a kind of plea bargain that would force the company to pay restitution but avoid the potentially crippling impact of a criminal conviction. In a Dec. 18 meeting, Wilson-Raybould said Butts told her chief of staff, Jessica Prince, that there was “no solution here that does not involve some interference.”

“We believe that it is important that Mr. Butts respond to the account of the meeting of (Dec.) 18th provided by Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould, in addition to the other allegations about him and PMO colleagues mentioned in her testimony,” the committee said in a statement Thursday.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Wellington community association hopes to save old school from demolition

Nanaimo school district staff to report on fate of South Wellington Elementary later this month

Black Lives solidarity demonstration fills Nanaimo park

Anti-racism protest held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday afternoon

Nanaimo RCMP seek help locating missing indigenous youth

Family of William Baker worries he’s in company of people putting him at risk

Nanaimo man wanted on assault warrants

John Bates wanted following two separate incidents from earlier this year

Stz’uminus motivational speaker and musician named ‘emerging cultural leader’ in Nanaimo

Patrick Aleck is among the recipients of the city’s Culture and Heritage Awards

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Parcel stolen from front porch, Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspect

Unidentified woman allegedly stole package containing $400 smart watch

Most Read