Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Jodie Wilson-Raybould attend a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. The Globe and Mail says former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould disappointed the Prime Minister’s Office by refusing to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary and long-time friend, has resigned amid allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office interfered to prevent a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

In a statement, Butts unequivocally denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the office improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the Montreal engineering giant avoid a criminal case on corruption and bribery charges related to government contracts in Libya.

Nevertheless, Butts says the allegation is distracting from the “vital work” Trudeau is doing so it’s in the best interests of the Prime Minister’s Office for him to step aside.

“I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in his office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould … At all times, I and those around me acted with integrity and singular focus on the best interests of all Canadians,” he says.

“Any accusation that I or the staff put pressure on the attorney general is simply not true … But the fact is that this accusation exists. 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.”

Wilson-Raybould resigned from Trudeau’s cabinet last week. She has not explained why and she has not commented on the allegation, levelled by anonymous sources in a Globe and Mail story 10 days ago, that she was improperly pressured, citing solicitor-client privilege. She has hired a former Supreme Court justice to advise her on what she may legally say.

Butts is one of several top Trudeau aides the opposition parties had wanted to call before the House of Commons justice committee to testify on what happened. Liberal MPs on the committee last week used their majority to limit the scope of the committee’s inquiry.

Butts has confirmed that Wilson-Raybould briefly raised the matter of SNC-Lavalin during a meeting in December; he advised her to speak with the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick.

In his statement, Butts writes positively of his relationship with Wilson-Raybould.

“I encouraged her to run for the Liberal Party of Canada and worked hard to support her as a candidate and then cabinet minister. From my perspective, our relationship has always been defined by mutual respect, candour and an honest desire to work together.”

Butts says he’s served Trudeau “to the best of my abilities and I have at all times given the prime minister free and unfettered advice.

“I have served the public interest, not the interests of any individual or any narrow private interest of any kind, at any time. Life is full of uncertainties but I am absolutely certain of that.”

Trudeau, who became friends with Butts when the two attended McGill University, tweeted about his principal secretary’s resignation: “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.”

The Canadian Press

VIDEO: Trudeau surprised, puzzled by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation

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

Best of the City: This year’s winners

Nanaimo News Bulletin presents full results of our 2020 Best of the City readers’ survey

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 23

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

RDN receives money for emergency preparedness programs

Union of B.C. Municipalities awards two $25,000 grants to Regional District of Nanaimo

Development permit approved for new auto dealership in Nanaimo

City council votes in favour of Mitsubishi building design proposal, including variances

Nanaimo United play in a pandemic, win Jackson Cup championship

Div. 1 men defeat Lakehill 2-1 to cap off soccer season after a six-month shutdown

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Heiltsuk First Nation calling on DFO to close fish farms, citing wild salmon extinction risk

Wild salmon returns have broken low records, have many concerned about future of wild fish

Attorney General of Canada defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Most Read