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

Trucking company fined $175K for Lemon Creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Missing Nelson woman found dead

Police say there is no evidence of a crime in the death of Heather Gunderson

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Police ID man found dead in Vallican after probe leads to no arrests

Forty-seven-year-old Aaron Graham, of Vallican, has been identified as the man killed

Greg Scott: CBC program sparked outrage in Nelson in 1970

News items from 50 years ago from the Nelson Daily News

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Donations pour in for family who lost father, son in fatal crash on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Most Read