PM's principal secretary resigns amid SNC allegations

19 February, 2019, 06:11 | Author: Emmett Howard
  • Motz blasts PM and his office for handling of SNC-Lavalin ordeal

Perry Bellegarde says in an interview today that First Nation people have questions about Jody Wilson-Raybould's sudden departure from cabinet this week - days after allegations emerged that officials in Trudeau's office leaned on her to help SNC-Lavalin bypass criminal prosecution.

Trudeau again denied on Friday that he "directed" Wilson-Raybould to make any decisions when she served as attorney general. But the fact is that this accusation exists. "It can not and should not take one moment away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians".

Wilson-Raybould left her cabinet post earlier this week, shortly after the Globe and Mail reported the PMO allegedly pushed her to encourage a deal in the prosecution of corruption charges levied against Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin.

Since the scandal broke, Jody Wilson- Raybould has kept tight-lipped on the scandal and has secured legal representation from Thomas Cromwell, to counsel her on what she can or cannot say on the matter. What is in dispute is whether the discussion Trudeau and those in his office had with then-AG Wilson-Raybould were simply unethical or criminal.

The call comes as Gerald Butts, Trudeau's principal secretary and longtime friend, resigned. "They go back to being undergraduates at McGill (University) at the same time".

Former cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould spent February 14 delivering valentines to veterans. She had been demoted from justice minister last month and was furious, releasing a 2,000-word statement after that.

Wilson-Raybould has only said that she can not comment on the matter, since she is bound by solicitor-client privilege, since the allegations came to light.

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SNC-Lavalin has been aggressively lobbying all politicians to push for a plea bargain that would allow it to avoid a criminal conviction that would result in it being banned from bidding on federal government contracts for a decade. SNC-Lavalin is a major employer in Quebec, with about 3,400 employees in the province, 9,000 employees in Canada and more than 50,000 worldwide.

Government officials are likely to know where that line is, she added, because "these issues don't come up infrequently when statutory decision makers need to make a decision".

"As it is, they bad-mouthed Wilson-Raybould and denied pressure was applied". David Lametti, a Montreal MP who was formerly a law professor, becomes justice minister.

Butts is a long-time political strategist, who also served as chief executive officer of conservation group WWF-Canada prior to joining Trudeau in his bid to win the leadership of the Liberal party and the 2015 election.

Singh, who's campaigning in Burnaby, B.C., for a byelection next Monday, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government appears to be acting on behalf of its "friends" in this situation.

Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, said the latest resignation shows a government in "chaos as Trudeau desperately tries to cover up this scandal".

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