Canadian prime minister Trudeau's chief secretary resigns

Tuesday, 19 Feb, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's top adviser has resigned while denying allegations he pressured Canada's former attorney general to avoid prosecuting a major Canadian engineering firm. A conviction would bar the company from bidding on Canadian government business, potentially devastating it.

"If Scott Brison had not stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would be Minister of Justice and attorney general", Trudeau told reporters in Kanata today, following an announcement that the federal government would be pledging $40 million to BlackBerry, for it to put toward its development of smart cars.

SNC-Lavalin's headquarters in Montreal.

"Any time, one makes a decision to shift members of cabinet, there are always a wide range of factors that go into making that decision", he said.

"There were many discussions going on".

Butts has confirmed that Wilson-Raybould briefly raised the matter of SNC-Lavalin during a meeting in December; he advised her to speak with the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick.

I was delighted when Trudeau appointed her to his cabinet, and I was shocked and disbelieving when she was shunted aside.

Wilson-Raybould was moved from the Department of Justice to Veterans Affairs in January's cabinet shuffle. Butts issued a statement Monday denying that he or anybody else in Trudeau's office pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, said the latest resignation shows a government in "chaos as Trudeau desperately tries to cover up this scandal".

Clark said that as a premier, when a minister won't execute the government's will, "you either persuade them to do so or find a new minister". "He talks about his reputation and he seems to fear that it is at risk, and it could very well be", said Jody Wilson-Raybould's father. Max St-Pierre tweeted: "It's ok, I usually blame my husband for everything too".

Her departure followed a Globe and Mail newspaper report this month saying officials in Trudeau's office had urged her to allow SNC-Lavalin to avoid a corruption trial on charges of bribing Libyan officials, and to escape with a fine instead.

At the news conference, Trudeau continued to pass the issue to Wilson-Raybould.

Trudeau didn't say what reasons she gave for her resignation, only that he accepted her decision, even if he didn't totally understand it.

When asked for her side of the story, Wilson-Raybould has cited solicitor-client privilege. She has hired former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell to advise her on what she can and cannot say publicly.

Trudeau also rejected a claim made - and later apologized for - by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who suggested yesterday that Wilson-Raybould may have been moved from her position because she did not speak French.