Trudeau's Top Adviser Resigns While Denying Wrongdoing

Then-justice minister Jody Wilson Raybould on Parliament Hill Monday

Then-justice minister Jody Wilson Raybould on Parliament Hill Monday

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.

Randy Hoback put out a press release to media late Friday afternoon calling on Trudeau to waive solicitor-client privilege, and for the Liberals on the Justice Committee to stop blocking the Conservatives' attempts to call Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau's principal secretary Gerald Butts and his senior Quebec advisor Mathiew Bouchard to testify at committee.

The PM has repeatedly said he doesn't fully understand why Wilson-Raybould resigned and then Friday said she'd still be the justice minister and attorney general if Scott Brison had not resigned.

"I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in his office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould", Butts said. But the fact is that this accusation exists. "It can not and should not take one moment away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians".

During the political firestorm that followed the report, Wilson-Raybould refused to comment on the case, saying she was still bound by solicitor-client privilege.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday thanked his principal secretary, with whom he was photographed as young men on the steps of the Arts Building at McGill, "for his service and continued friendship". "They go back to being undergraduates at McGill (University) at the same time".

Having worked with First Nations people in several public land use processes over the past 25 years, I thought I knew something about First Nations history in B.C., but Wilson-Raybould gave us an entirely new and refreshing perspective in her speech. A report last week by the Globe and Mail newspaper raised allegations of judicial interference and the fallout is undercutting his 2015 election pledge to bring "real change" to government. Trudeau also reportedly said that there were many discussions going on about SNC-Lavalin and that Wilson-Raybould asked him if he would be directing her to take a particular decision.

The agreement would have allowed the company to pay reparations but avoid a criminal trial on charges of corruption and bribery.

"Obviously, as a government we take very seriously our responsibility of standing up for jobs, of protecting jobs, of growing the economy, of making sure that there are good jobs right across the country as there are with SNC-Lavalin, but as we do that we always need to make sure we're standing up for the rule of law and protecting the independence of our justice system", Trudeau said.

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. "I had full confidence in her role as attorney general to make the decision", he said. It can not and should not take one moment away from the vital work the prime minister and his office is doing for all Canadians.

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