Trudeau hunkers down in Ottawa after second minister resigns over SNC-Lavalin

He cancelled his scheduled visit to Regina today

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in an armchair discussion at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention in Toronto on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hunkering down in Ottawa after the second resignation from his cabinet in less than a month over the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

He has cancelled a planned visit to Regina today, where he had been scheduled to attend an afternoon event to promote his government’s plan to battle climate change and a Liberal fundraiser in the evening.

READ MORE: Jane Philpott resigns from Trudeau cabinet

Trudeau did take part this morning in an armchair discussion at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto before returning to Ottawa for what his office says are ”private meetings.”

The prime minister’s urge to stay close to home comes one day after Treasury Board president Jane Philpott quit cabinet, saying she no longer had confidence in the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Her departure was less than a month after former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned over what she has described as improper pressure on her to halt the criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering and construction giant.

Wilson-Raybould testified last week that she was relentlessly pressured — and even received veiled threats — from Trudeau, his senior staff, the clerk of the Privy Council and Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office to ensure a remediation agreement was negotiated with the company. A remediation agreement is a kind of plea bargain that would force the company to pay stiff penalties but avoid a criminal conviction that could financially cripple it.

She told the House of Commons justice committee that she believes the pressure was inappropriate but not illegal.

Trudeau has tried to maintain business as usual since the controversy erupted a month ago. But at public events he’s been dogged by questions about the SNC-Lavalin affair.

He now appears to have decided to keep a low profile at least until after his former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, testifies at the justice committee on Wednesday. Liberals are hoping Butts, a long-time friend of Trudeau’s, will finally provide another side to the story that will help the government defend itself against accusations of political interference in the justice system.

Butts resigned from Trudeau’s office last month, insisting neither he nor anyone else had done anything wrong but saying he didn’t want to be a distraction to the government’s work. His letter of resignation suggested that he’d be freer to defend his reputation from outside the Prime Minister’s Office.

After Wilson-Raybould’s testimony last week, Butts asked to appear before the justice committee, where he said he would “produce relevant documents.”

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

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new ‘takeout’ curbside pickup service

As of June 5, cardholders can once again access physical copies of books, DVDs and more

Blacktail Haida Gwaii working to reopen with new covered patio

Chef-owner Edi Szasz hopes to reopen on June 25, the one-year anniversary of the restaurant

Skidegate daycare staff recognized for creative care during COVID-19

Staff have been using social media to share isolation activities, read stories and sing songs

Village of Queen Charlotte approves business facade improvement grants

Applications from Gather, dental clinic, A Level Up approved, leaving about $14,000 up for grabs

Recycling services in Queen Charlotte, Port Clements expanding next week

Residential plastics will be accepted again, but most residential transfer stations remain closed

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe comapaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Most Read