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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Langley walk to fight Alzheimer’s took place outdoors and in

Second annual fundraiser at Chartwell Langley Gardens Retirement Community

VIDEO: Inaugural township-wide garage sale rated a success

‘It went extremely well,’ said veteran garage sale participant

Taekwondo Festival draws hundreds to Langley Events Centre

Annual event a showcase of Korean martial art skills, culture and music

VIDEO: Bowen Byram named top prospect

Giants defenceman recognized as premier NHL draft pick

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Most Read