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

Just Posted

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

‘Panda’ Goodlife runner searches for his head

Facebook post for help leads to ‘unconfirmed panda head sightings’

Saanich staff recommend rejecting ALR exclusion of former Royal Oak golf course

Finial decision rest with Agricultural Land Commission

Man swinging election sign threatens to kill woman in Oak Bay

Police detain aggravated man without use of taser

Former child care worker charged with Saanich sexual assault pleads guilty

Jesse Doig arrested in May, remaining in custody since

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

UPDATED: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in US after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

Most Read