Still hard to believe Butts on SNC-Lavalin affair

by Lorrie GoldsteinMore from Lorrie Goldstein

In a lengthy interview with the Huffington Post released Saturday, Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, makes a statement about the SNC-Lavalin affair which to me, beggars belief.

Butts said he doesn’t think Trudeau’s actions were motivated by Trudeau’s desire to obtain a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) for the company.

Asked by Althia Raj: “Did you think the prime minister wanted a DPA for SNC-Lavalin?”

Butts responds:

“No. No … No, I didn’t. I didn’t think he did or didn’t want one. I think that again, as I said to (the justice) committee, I think that his and our main objective was to make sure that every possible due diligence had been done. That there was nothing wrong with, in any way shape or form, with asking for an opinion on a new law from an eminent jurist,” like retired Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin.

Similarly, in his testimony to the justice committee in March, Butts said he had no personal view on whether SNC-Lavalin should get the DPA and that everyone in the Prime Minister’s Office understood the decision was solely then attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s to make.

All they wanted was for her to consider that 9,000 jobs could be lost if SNC-Lavalin was convicted on bribery and fraud charges and couldn’t bid on federal contracts for 10 years.

To me, this lies at the heart of what has become Trudeau’s greatest political disaster, resulting in the resignation of two cabinet ministers and Butts himself.

It’s that neither Trudeau nor Butts appear to understand what they did in the SNC-Lavalin affair doesn’t pass the smell test.

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