Examinations will provide needed ‘airing’ on SNC-Lavalin controversy: Trudeau

By The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says an “airing” of the facts is needed in the SNC-Lavalin case, but he is confident in examinations underway by the federal ethics commissioner and the House of Commons justice committee.

Trudeau, who made the remarks before meeting his caucus this morning, faced questions about the NDP’s proposal for a broader public inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin controversy dogging the Liberal government.

The New Democrats say a public inquiry is the only way to the bottom of the uproar that engulfed the Prime Minister’s Office after the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by prime ministerial staff to help the Montreal engineering firm avoid a criminal prosecution on corruption charges related to contracts in Libya.

In January, Wilson-Raybould was shuffled into the veterans affairs portfolio, and she announced her resignation from cabinet last week.

The ethics commissioner’s probe will focus on whether there was a breach of the Conflict of Interest Act, while the justice committee is set to hear from witnesses including Wilson-Raybould.

Trudeau said today the government welcomes her coming testimony. “It is extremely important that everybody have an opportunity to hear the different perspectives in this situation.”

Wilson-Raybould, who remains a Liberal MP and attended this morning’s caucus meeting, told reporters she knows it is frustrating for many people that she has not commented further on her cabinet resignation.

She maintains she needs to know what she can and cannot say, given the restrictions imposed by solicitor-client privilege.

On Monday, Trudeau’s principal secretary and long-time political adviser Gerald Butts resigned from his position while repeating that he did not pressure Wilson-Raybould.

“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 said in a statement.

“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.”

In response to Butts’ resignation, Trudeau thanked his long-time friend and adviser.

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