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

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Chemainus family pledges $50,000 to Chemainus Theatre Crisis Relief Fund

The Hilton family pledged $50,000 toward a matched fund. If fully matched, it will raise $100,000

Local woman makes face masks to raise funds for LRCA Food Bank

Cheryl Lowrence made 30 face masks and raised $326.25 for the food bank

Ladysmith family creates music video to show appreciation for community in the face of COVID-19

Sheila Richards, 77 is the star of new music video celebrating community kindness in Ladysmith

Burning complaints prompt regulation reminder from North Oyster Volunteer Fire Department

NOVFD has responded to at least 10 burning complaints in since April 1

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Drug-pricing petition garners thousands of signatures

Petition started by Chilliwack mom also drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Most Read