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

Tracy Gray: From business to politics

She was the first female MP elected to represent Kelowna-Lake Country in 2019

Malindi Elmore: Shattering national running records at 39

She recently shattered the Canadian women’s marathon record at the Houston Marathon in January

Vees have a short-handed romp over visiting West Kelowna Warriors

The Penticton Vees scored three short-handed goals to take a 1-0 series lead over West Kelowna

Kelowna production takes ‘The Walk’ to explore sex trafficking

The goal is to get people thinking about the situation, according to the playwright

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come 5 months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Couple in crash on Highway 1 mistake Shuswap for Lower Mainland

Chase RCMP report Mercedes Benz collides with transport truck

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Laughing ladies and country artists sell out Okanagan venue

Alan Doyle and I Am Woman, Hear Me Laff! back to back sold out

Revelstoke mother and daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Most Read