Prime minister’s Regina trip cancelled in favour of private meetings in Ottawa

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancels visit to Regina

"There is certainly a bit of a crisis within the government", he adds.

Gerald Butts, Trudeau top aide and close friend, resigned last week and denied that he or anyone in the Trudeau's office pressured Wilson-Raybould.

Butts said all officials working on the file knew that the decision to direct Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussel to enter into negotiations on a DPA or remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin was exclusively at the discretion of the attorney general.

During Drouin's remarks, she told the committee that she was asked by the minister's office when Wilson-Raybould was at the helm to hold back a report to the PCO about the consequences a criminal conviction may have on SNC-Lavalin.

He said he only learned of Wilson-Raybould's perception of events when she testified at the committee last week, and that she made up her mind in September to not provide SNC-Lavalin a deal.

"In any case, that was our operating assumption".

Despite all of his huggy-bear, kissy-face posturing in front of the committee, including the claim that he didn't want to "cast aspersions" on his former colleague, Butts tossed former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould into the wood chipper.

Wilson-Raybould said 11 officials and ministers had contacted her and her office a total of 20 times over four months about the SNC-Lavalin affair.

"I work at the intersection of the public service and the elected officials, and I am present for many discussions that touch on matters some would see as 'political.' It is my role to be aware of this context but I do not ever give advice that is partisan in content or motivation", Wernick said. "What would be the rationale?" Demoting Wilson-Raybould in the cabinet shuffle was just a coincidence.

Trudeau's Liberal government has been rocked for weeks by the snowballing scandal, which has triggered the resignation of two cabinet ministers and badly tarnished the image of the golden boy premier.

"We know what it's like when a company or a community collapses", he said, referring to the shutdown of the coal mine operations in which thousands of people lost their jobs.

Butts resigned from his role as principal secretary in the Prime Minister's Office on February 18.

"I firmly believe nothing inappropriate occurred here and nothing inappropriate was alleged to have occurred until after the cabinet shuffle", he said, according to The Globe and Mail. "Had Minister Brison not resigned, Minister Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice today". "I was giving her relevant context... and I never suggested consequences for her", Wernick said.

Wilson-Raybould has claimed that a year ago she was put under pressure to order a deferred prosecution agreement for the Quebec-based engineering and construction firm's fraud and corruption charges, and that her refusal to do so led to her being shifted out of the attorney general post to the veterans' affairs portfolio.

"The (prime minister) I think has been clear".

Before beginning to speak, the Liberal majority on the committee voted down a Conservative motion for Butts to be sworn in to testify under oath. Wilson-Raybould had the power to scrap the decision to go to trial, but decided against it.

Liberal legislators on the committee appeared relieved after the testimony by Butts, telling reporters he had clearly done nothing inappropriate. Opposition MPs questioning Butts asked if he had any specific evidence to support the fear that a "no" on DPA would result in job losses. He has said he totally disagrees with Wilson-Raybould's characterization of events.

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