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

COLUMN: Diminished Parliament means diminished accountability for Canadians

Bloc Quebecois and NDP use resumption of parliament as bargaining chip

Penticton Farmers Market prepares for return

The weekly market was put on-hold for months due to COVID-19

No injuries in Penticton Indian Band structure fire

The structure, which sustained significant damage, was boarded up and seemingly vacant

Dementia intensifies loneliness and loss for seniors in pandemic, says caregiver

Seniors care expert says patience and sharing keys to helping those with dementia cope through virus

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Central Okanagan schools ready to welcome students back

Students are set to go back to school next Monday, June 1

Houseboat company partly owned by Shuswap MLA withdraws controversial ad

The ad welcomed houseboaters from other provinces, contradicting anti COVID-19 measures.

Squabble between campers in North Shuswap leads to bear spraying

An argument over late night partying escalated into a fight which led to one person being sprayed

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Penticton may soon allow drinking alcohol in some public places

Trying to inconspicuously drink on the beach could become a thing of the past

VIDEO: Flowers stolen from Vernon distillery

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery captured surveillance footage of the thief in a black car

Most Read