Gerald Butts (right), former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre), is appearing before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding the SNC Lavalin Affair, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa today.
Butts also stressed in his testimony that there was no pressure on Wilson-Raybould to change her decision on SNC-Lavalin, only to inform the decision with the outside expert opinion of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.
Wilson-Raybould testified that when she was attorney general she was pressured by top government officials, including the prime minister, to step in and resolve the corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.
But if Wilson-Raybould and the Director of Public Prosecutions had arrived at their final conclusion, the only objective outside advice could serve would be to have their decision reversed.
On Wednesday, Liberals on the justice committee used their majority to quash a motion to invite Wilson-Raybould to testify once again, which the Tories and NDP argued would sort out numerous discrepancies between her testimony and Butts' testimony. There's always many sides to a story and we have Ms. Wilson-Raybould's testimony last Wednesday. That's because instead of showing contrition for a job well-botched, as some had predicted, Butts doubled down on the dubious proposition that neither the Prime Minister's Office nor any other high-ranking officials had done anything wrong.
Speaking on Wednesday before a House of Commons Justice Committee, Mr Butts said: "I am firmly convinced nothing happened beyond the normal operations of government".
"It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our attorney-general should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases", Philpott wrote.
Drouin indicated that SNC-Lavalin was just one of a host of issues she was asked to include in briefing notes. All that the Prime Minister's aides wanted was for her to seek an outside legal opinion about whether that was an appropriate thing to do - because the livelihoods of 9,000 employees were at stake, and they wanted to be able to say they had explored every option.
Wilson-Raybould testified she received a call from the prime minister on January 7 to inform her she was being shuffled out of her role as justice minister and attorney general.
In Butts's version of the December 5 dinner, Wilson-Raybould asked if he had a view on the file and they talked briefly of asking a retired Supreme Court justice for advice. "Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques are incredibly accomplished lawyers of sterling reputations and it is inconceivable to me that they would engage in this sort of behaviour".
Butts did not provide specific evidence to justify the 9,000 figure, but said he was briefed by Finance officials on the matter several times. He maintained all involved recognized that the final decision was the attorney general's alone and no one crossed the line into applying inappropriate pressure.
The Vancouver Granville MP said she would happily comply. It was clear that he arrived in that committee room, which feels oddly subterranean despite being a huge space located on the fourth floor of a slickly refurbished government building, acutely aware that it would be politically disastrous for him to look like he was impugning Wilson-Raybould in any way.
"You've got to be part of a team if you're going to accomplish the goals you want to achieve and the team has to stick together", he said. "But I have to say, it's been a long time", Butts said, trailing off and pausing awkwardly for a second or two.
On Sept. 11, Drouin was informed in an email that Wilson-Raybould would not intervene. Wilson-Raybauld turned down the cabinet portfolio saying her entire life she was opposed to the Indian Act and could not be responsible for administering its programs. Wilson-Raybould alleged that Butts was one of multiple senior staffers within the Prime Minister's Office that applied what she believed was inappropriate pressure.
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