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

Cloverdale businessman funds wells in Cambodia

Revive Washing in Clayton Heights donates three per cent of profits to charity

Influx of cross-border visitors to Peace Arch Park sparks concern COVID-19 could spike

Police, parks officials say patrols, education and signage have all been increased

Barn catches fire in Surrey

Fire department says ‘pressurized containers’ inside the structure

What June 1 will look like at Surrey schools

High school students following a ‘tutorial model’ where they sign up through a set schedule of times

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 29: Only four new cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Suspected ‘murder hornet’ leaves Langley man on edge after finding insect in bedroom

The extra-large invasive insect had been first discovered in Brookswood on Thursday, May 28

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

Most Read